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…

Adding colour to the Ricin Fairy painting

Adding colour: Ricinus Communis Fairy continued…

So after the blue under-painting: https://nancyfarmer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/start-of-a-painting-ricinus-communis-the-fairy-of-the-castor-oil-plant/ I can now begin adding colour to this painting. The colour is added on in thick gouache paint, the idea being ultimately to stain the paper, so the particular pigments are carefully chosen. All the same, I suspect something of a mistake in the colour of the lower leaves. The trouble is I don’t want them too dark, and with this technique that means adding white at this stage, and the dark green has gone kind of blue (though not, I think, quite as blue as in the photo). I will probably get away…

Ricin Fairy: finished under-painting

Start of a painting: Ricinus Communis, the fairy of the Castor Oil Plant

The third of the Poison Flower Fairies is under way! For the initial sketch and photos of the castor oil plant itself, and all about this slippery character and its deadly toxin, look back at this post: https://nancyfarmer.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/sketches-for-the-poison-flower-fairies-ricina-maligned-and-usually-innocent/ Actually this fairy should be called Ricina, not Ricinus, being female, so I’m not quite sure of the proper title of this painting yet. If I call it ‘Ricina Communis…’ I think people and google will assume I don’t know the proper name of the plant. Hmm… Anyway, I have begun the painting. This is the drawing laid out neatly on stretched…

Painting - the tobacco plant fairy

Finished painting: Nicotiana, the fairy of the Tobacco Plant

Another finished painting! This is the second of my poison flower fairies paintings. I really had to have this one in the collection – not a plant that one probably thinks of if asked to name a poisonous plant, but the plant that has killed more people than all other poison plants ever: the Tobacco Plant. This is one of many of the ornamental varieties which, of course, is why I had it in the garden. I also planted what I thought was a more attractive plant that had a delicate spray of short, pink flowers, but I chose to…

The Monkshood Fairy - close-up

Finally a finished painting: Aconitum Napellus, The Monkshood Fairy

Finally I have got this on the scanner. I may say that at a little over 13 x 19 inches this picture requires 4 scans with an A4 scanner and some careful fiddling and stitching together by hand, all done at 600 dpi, which gives my computer a bit of a headache nowadays, so this is not a 5-minute job! The Tobacco Fairy will follow in due course. So, here she is in glorious close-up detail: (clicking the images should give you larger versions) …what has a spider to do with monkshood? that was in my first post about this…

Progress on the Poison Flower Fairies: Monkshood

So… I have managed to begin painting the first of the Poison Flower Fairies. I had this idea back in about August of last year, collected many photographs as the flowers came into season, finally worked up some sketches in January and I have at last begun to put actual paint on actual paper, seven months later… The sketch for this one appeared in this blog entry: https://nancyfarmer.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/sketches-for-the-poison-flower-fairies/ …so, straight into painting. Here is the picture drawn out and the tones put down in Prussian Blue. This is all gouache paint, except for occasionally where it’s watercolour. This is under-painting…

The 'capers' of the Caper Spurge - no, you cannot eat them

Sketches for the Poison Flower Fairies: the very kinky latex-clad fairy of the Caper Spurge

The last Poison Flower Fairy in my current collection (I have more possibilities, but I’m temporarily forced to break off from this macabre lot to get on with some other stuff)… the last one is a member of the Euphorbia genus. I had to include a Euphorbia, not because they are the most famous of poison plants, though they are undoubtedly poisonous, but because it was a Euphorbia-related visit to casualty which first gave me the idea for these paintings. So, there are these plants: Euphorbias, also known as Spurges, a vast genus of plants, wildly varying, including some very…

Seedpod of Ricinus Communis

Sketches for the Poison Flower Fairies: Ricina, maligned and (usually) innocent

I’ve been a little distracted from the Poison Flower Fairies this week with this and that: etching, paperwork and having taken on a commission (more on that later). However, I’ve two more sketches still to show you, so here, for starters, is another plant with a bad reputation. The first of these is a curious creature, not an ancient evil like Monkshood, but rumoured to be assisting terrorists all over the world, sought by several international law-enforcement agencies on several occasions and never caught but once. Toxic, certainly, but dangerous? Guilty as charged? These things are less certain of this…