I bought these three books from the shop at the Western Australian Museum in Perth many years ago. I had just arrived via the Indian Pacific Railway and was staying a couple of days at a B & B. It was the middle of my wanting to own one of each thing I found in the shops….anything Australian. My bags were full, I was wearing down (like those of us do when traveling alone). I was sitting in the outdoor cafe at the museum watching a woman being totally looked after by her husband. They were enjoying themselves. My feet hurt from walking around the Botanical Garden. My shoulders ached from carrying my camera, sketching supplies, purse and purchases. I coveted her traveling companion at the moment. I wanted to have someone to say, ‘Isn’t it beautiful here?’ to.
But I ordered lunch with a nice wine, took out my books, and found Ellis Rowan, one of Australia’s well known botanical artists. Her work was full of drama…. not content to just draw the plant in its natural setting, but put a snake in there…a butterfly….whatever she thought would tell more of a story about her subject. I think she was considered out of the bounds of good botanical illustration by her peers…mostly male scientists who made those assessments during those early days of needed documentation.
Some of her paintings look “clumsy” by comparison to the more light-handed delicate interpretations of plant drawings by others.
I was glad to pull her off the shelf because she made me feel better about how my wildflower drawings are going in this long concertina book. The paper is a cheap sponge. The color in the watercolors gets sucked into dullness. The contact prints of drab, dead leaves are just that, drab and dead. Then I looked at the sewing patches here and there and wondered why I felt compelled to do that…..so I added more. I added more stitch lines. The poor quality paper tears easily on the folds when handled. Some drawings are not very good. But….
It gives me something to do….like other older women who just keep doing terrible looking sewing projects. It keeps our hands busy. It keeps us looking and giving a good shot at making something. I remind myself of my mother doing large crewel pieces using leftover sale fabrics and cheap yarn. She would have liked this book. And maybe further down the line of twenty six panels, I might like it too.
The Bush Book is still at the printers. Each section has to get several tests before the print colors match the book painting. The toad page took seven tries to get it right. Once I get all fifteen double panels printed on the right paper I will paste them all together, make the folds and cover and then think about a small edition.
Four more Drawing a Day entries.
First out of the drawer
a wooden citrus juicer –
very hard to draw.
For peeling carrots,
potatoes, eggplants, squashes,
The smaller of two
whisks in the kitchen drawer
whips the hollandaise.
This tool is supposed
to cut pizza in slices.
A knife is better.
There is a chance that I might get back into the studio for time alone to work. We are looking into professional companionship for Lee three times a week. They seem very nice and Lee is fine with the idea of someone besides me doing all the talking.
More on that later.