I think I figured out why I like to do botanical illustrations so much. It’s because gardens and flowers are hard to come by in the desert southwest. In fact, I was a little jealous as I watched the class videos filmed in a botanical garden. I miss having access to a resource like that.
That being said, my biggest challenge was to find references that I wanted to sketch. There’s a park that the kids and I enjoy visiting. It is full of trees and hills and grass, and it reminds me a little of home. For this project I never did have the chance to visit the park by myself, which means that I did not have an opportunity to actually sketch. It was more of an observational trip. When I came home, I found some time to sketch a scene from my imagination. It included trees and bird of paradise bushes, which would not necessarily appear together in real life. But hey, it’s *my* imagination and *my* garden, so why not put them together.
Initially I started with watercolor, painting in some background:
I wasn’t ready to tackle the gouache just yet, so I continued to build up some details with the watercolor:
From here, I dove into the gouache. The last time I used gouache for painting anything was in a color theory class I took. We used gouache to create value scales of various colors. It’s been over a decade since the class, so I’d forgotten some of the properties of the paint. I must say that I didn’t really care for it after doing watercolor for so long now. Sure, it was nice to paint over the watercolor and have it actually cover it up, but I was having a hard time finding the right water to paint ratio. And then there was the clean up. Ugh. It is harder to get gouache off the brushes and off the palette. I don’t have a lot of time to paint, so quick clean up is vital. All that being said, I still like the result. I had fun experimenting with making marks, and filling up the space.