The Opium Fairies - sketch

Papaver Somniferum

There are gaping holes in my ‘Poison Flower Fairies‘ painting series. This suspicious selection of characters so far includes some toxic, medicinal and aggressive types of fairies, but I have yet to add two blindingly obvious ones. One of the omissions is Atropa Belladonna, a.k.a Deadly Nightshade, both notorious and medicinal, and this is partly because I don’t know anywhere hereabouts where it grows though it must be somewhere around, and I do like to draw a plant from life even if it’s sometimes hard to track down the fairies. The other one is almost so obvious you wouldn’t believe…

The Foxglove Fairy's paraphernalia

Digitalis Purpurea, the Foxglove Fairy – Finished

Finally, photos of the Foxglove Fairy finished! Apologies for not posting these before – I wanted to post some really good images of the painting, having spent three or four weeks on it, and photographs are not nearly so sharp. Not only that, but THAT yellowy colour is just one of those colours that is really hard to get just right in a reproduction, as is the purple. I have done my best and the colours are as close to the original painting as I am going to manage. So here she is: Digitalis Purpurea, the Foxglove Fairy: And a…

Painting the Stinging Nettle Fairies - underpainting stage

Stinging Nettle Fairies

Ok, I’ll admit it, I did in fact finish the Foxglove Fairy some time ago, but I’ve not yet had time to get her on the scanner, sorry! Meanwhile, another poison flower fairy is in order, since I have an exhibition coming up soon – Ilminster in August – and not much painting time left… All the Laburnums are out in flower at the moment and looking lovely, but I have been reading up on them and it would appear their dreadfull reputation is quite overstated, and perhaps I would only add to the paranoia. It would be a shame…

Foxglove Fairy - work-in-progress 8

Trust me, I’m an Artist! (The Foxglove Fairy pat 2)

Back to the Foxglove Fairy from the previous post… Here is the blue underpainting finished. At this point the painting looks fine, and you will think I am ok at painting, but after this everything will go a bit strange for a while as I start to add the colour. Trust me: I’m an artist… On go the first layers of colour. In fact you may not notice the very first colour I added, which was white, where the inside of the foxgloves flowers are spotty. Next I filled in the colours of the fairy. …and the purple and greens…

The Caper Spurge Fairy… finished.

And another Fairy spreads her wings… I suspect she may squeak a bit as she flies, in her all-over latex outfit, but, given the dangers of this particular genus of plants, this is a small price to pay for the safety of inhabiting the Caper Spurge. The trouble with Euphorbias is their sap, which is not only toxic, but can cause severe skin reaction and damage to eyes, which explains why my fairy is wearing goggles, too. I have this plant growing here and there in my garden, and it readily oozes toxic sap at the least damage. So I…

The Caper Spurge Fairy: after washing off the under-painting

Painting the Caper Spurge Fairy, part 2

The Caper Spurge Fairy is beginning to come to life…. Ok, so when I said there wouldn’t be a huge range of colour in this painting, I think I was forgetting a few things… like the fact that I tend to just layer on washes of colour because it’s fun and not because it’s actually the right colour 🙂 So I have begun the ‘colouring-in’ stage of this painting: Having first done the shading part of the under-painting (see previous post), I am adding a basic colour on top. Most of this layer of paint ends up being washed off, but…

Painting the Caper Spurge Fairy

And another poison flower fairy begins to emerge! This one is Euphorbia Lathyris, fairy of the Caper Spurge. I have (probably) finished the blue under-painting stage now, and unlike the last painting this one is definitely going to be in colour… Not a huge range of colour, I must admit: the Caper Spurge is basically green all over – no coloured flowers – and given the toxic effects of this plant the poor fairy has to wear an all-in-one latex outfit, which will probably be black. I shall, however, give her pink rubber gloves, I think! For a little more…

Title page from William Withering's book on Foxgloves. Image courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden, http://www.botanicus.org

Foxgloves, ‘naughtie humours’, and xanthopsia

At last, my foxgloves have come into flower! I have been waiting since the middle of last summer, when I first thought up the idea of painting the Poison Flower Fairies. Digitalis Purpurea, to give them their scientific name (regardless of the fact that many of them are not in fact purple), are famously poisonous, famously useful in medicine, and were gone and over for the year, before I thought of this little painting series. So were the opium poppies. So I have had to wait a full cycle for the next year’s flowers. Meanwhile I have had plenty of…

Ricina, Fairy of the Castor Bean Plant

Finished painting: Ricinus Communis, the Fairy of the Castor Bean Plant

The Fairy’s name is Ricina, of course, being a girl fairy… but for the sake of botanical accuracy and Google the title remains as the masculine form of the name. She holds an umbrella in memory of the time she got caught poisoning someone, and, weaponized umbrellas being something more suited to the Avengers than to real life, I have given her John Steed’s bowler hat. She is deadly, but, more sinned-against than sinning, she is rarely the actual culprit, though frequently the suspect… either that, or she has got a lot cleverer and isn’t going to get caught again!…

Painting after washing with water

More on Ricinus Communis, the Fairy of the Castor Bean Plant

I will have to put this painting aside for a week, and so this is just a quick post to show you as far as I got yesterday… Here was the painting straight after its hosing down in the shower: At this point, a painting always looks a bit harsh, so I have tended to go over part of it with several colour washes with very translucent paints (some of the watercolours can be better than gouache for this, but the opacity of any paint varies from pigment to pigment and some of the gouache paints also work). The way…