A postcard from 1923

I have a new hobby: I am painting plants and insects on the back of vintage postcards, from the Victorian era up to pre world war II. Some are still blank but others were written and sent.

I love reading the faded words, inspecting the old stamps, imagining the people writing soft and loving words to long gone birthday girls. I place my designs in a way that the name of the recipient of the card is still visible, as well as the sender’s signature and their parting words. The body of the message is usually mundane but the last words often moving. This is where true affection shows itself: “Hope to see you soon now, just two more weeks, with best love”, “With fondest love, Mummie and Daddie xxxxxx”, “Lots of love, Auntie Lizzie and Auntie Pat”.

Were Auntie Lizzie and Auntie Pat two unmarried sisters living together, writing to their niece for her birthday? Why was “Dear little Ivy” far away from Mummie and Daddie on her birthday? We will never know… but they missed her.

I like the names as well: Ivy, Beatie, Ethel, Gladys, Florence, Norah, Ella…

When these cards were sent the image on the front was exposed in the collection or pinned on the wall. A hundred years later, the writing on the back is more precious and certainly more mysterious. The cards meant enough to the recipients that they kept them and they survived for a century. I am hoping that my paintings are giving the words another breath of life, and the inscribed side (with often beautiful handwriting) is now under the glass instead of against the wall. Sweet words telling stories and turning into art.

Sweet so far anyway. I have yet to find one full of insults and bad wishes. If I do, I will use it to paint a venomous spider…

These paintings will be exhibited during my Hampshire Artists Open Studio in a couple of weeks.

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Hampshire Artists Open Studios

Hello everyone!

It is the time of year to open studio doors and welcome people to see my work and have a chat!

My studio, house and garden will be open from Friday 25 to Monday 28, with a preview on the Thursday evening.

I will be painting most of the time so you can see me working but this year I am also running two workshops, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. These will be from 2 to 4pm, in the studio or in the garden depending on the weather, all materials provided, with a maximum of 4 participants so you will get lots of attention! (Even if you would rather not ;D) If you are interested in taking part, you can email me at sandrine.courses@gmail.com

I will have many paintings exhibited, from small work starting under £50 to large paintings, as well as cards and folios. A black wall and a white wall, flowers and fruit and bugs… I will also have some of my textile work on show.

Now back to painting the walls of the living room in preparation for the event… Ooohhh, new colour!

I hope to see you soon,

Sandrine

 

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The Ethical Artist – New article in Artists & Illustrators Magazine

The Artists & Illustrators Magazine May issue is out!

I have another article in there, and this time it’s not about botanical art: it’s called “The Ethical Artist” and it’s about looking at where our art materials come from and what they are made off.

I did quite a bit of research and got in touch with lots of manufacturers, who were all forthcoming with their info, so there will be more blog posts about the results. For example, I tested a dozen different synthetic brushes (not being a fan of sable fur farms…) and found some treasures I need to tell you about.

In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the A&I article… Here is the first page.

Happy reading!

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How to transfer a drawing

If like me you do a lot of erasing before you can be happy with a drawing, then drawing straight on watercolour paper is not really an option. Because botanical painting is cut to white, any trace of erasing, smudging, or marking on the paper will stand out and completely ruin the feeling of freshness that is so desirable when you paint flowers.

An easy way to solve this is to draw first in a sketchbook, trace the drawing and then transfer it to watercolour paper. This gives you some gorgeous sketchbooks to peruse through for years to come, a beautiful record of your work, the comfort to know that there is no pressure and you can erase to your heart’s content, and a clean, smudge-free drawing on your precious watercolour paper. It also gives you a master copy of the drawing, should you mess up the painting and have to start again (it happens…)

What you need:

  • Cartridge paper or sketchbook
  • Tracing paper
  • Tracedown transfer paper (it looks like the old fashioned carbon paper, minus the grease and the wax)
  • Watercolour paper
  • A normal pencil and a coloured one
  • Soft putty rubber (I like the Maped grey putty rubber)

How it works:

  • First you draw your subject, either on cartridge paper or in a sketchbook.
  • Trace the drawing with a normal graphite pencil on tracing paper (the lower quality the better: if it is too thick, the line won’t go through at the next stage)
  • Position your tracing on the watercolour paper and use little bits of soft putty rubber to hold it in place
  • Slide the Tracedown transfer paper between the tracing paper and the watercolour paper, dark side down
  • Using a coloured pencil, go over the drawing
  • Remove the tracing and transfer paper: Tadaaa! You have a clean drawing on the watercolour paper

 

Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel Flora’s Patch, which shows the whole process:

Bags and scarves collection

Hello everyone,

I have designed a collection of bags and scarves for a company in San Francisco, ready for the first day of Spring!

Here is a link if you want to have a look (just click on my name… It’s a fancy link, it doesn’t have all the www bits):

Sandrine maugy

New tutorial video on YoutTube: Apricot Parrot Tulip

Hello everyone,

I have done a video tutorial of the Apricot Parrot Tulip that was published in Artists & Illustrators (April 2017 issue). Here is the link:

Happy watching!

Article in Artists & Illustrators Magazine – Parrot Tulip Masterclass

Hello everyone,

The April issue of A&I Magazine is out, with my Apricot Tulip Masterclass on a 4 page spread. I always find it exciting to see my paintings published…

There are 2 other botanical artists’ tutorials in the issue, by Fiona Swapp and Mariella Baldwin. So if you like botanical art, this is an issue worth investing in!

I’m off to West Dean College on Sunday, to run a 4 days residential course, painting spring flowers. Tulips, Hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, primroses, snowdrops and hellebores are on the programme…

Have a lovely week-end everyone,

Happy painting!

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Update on Fabriano Artistico – 1st February 2017

Hello everyone,

I thought it was time to write an update on the Fabriano Artistico paper situation.

Unfortunately, for the moment, the report is that there is nothing much to report on the paper front. The October earthquake in Italy hit the Pioraco Mill and the roof collapsed, damaging some of the machinery. Fortunately nobody was hurt but paper production at the mill has stopped. The other Fabriano mills have to make up for the loss of production and are working extra shifts to cover. This means no time for experiments… at least for the next few months. It will still happen, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer, probably after the summer.

In the meanwhile, here is a work in progress on Fabriano Artistico.

My thanks to Chiara from Fabriano for the info. I will post more news here about Fabriano Artistico next time I have something to report…

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Watercolour pans vs. tubes

This is a question that I am asked a lot: is it better to use tubes or pans to build your watercolour palette?

As usual, the answer is never quite straightforward and it really depends on how you use your watercolours the most.

Do you paint large or small? Do you travel a lot, especially by plane? Do you leave your paintings unfinished for ages before picking them up again? Which brand do you use? Are you likely to fall in love with a beautiful colour box that will become part of your inspiration and you won’t be able to sleep if it’s out of sight?

All of these will be a factor in your choice for a new paint box.

Size of paintings

If you like to paint miniatures and small paintings, pans are a good choice. They allow you to pick only a little paint at a time, without wasting huge amount that will wash down the sink.

If you prefer to paint large pictures, forever going back and forth from the pans to the palette in order to mix a sufficient quantity of paint will drive you mad. Squeezing larger amounts of colour on the palette and mixing in wells will work much better.

Travelling

Pan boxes are much more convenient than tube boxes when travelling. Most of them include a palette in the lids, they take less room, they are less messy, more practical and less likely to let you down. Nobody wants to be stuck in the Papua New Guinea rainforest with a tube that won’t open.

If you travel by air, there is another consideration: some airlines won’t accept tube paints because they are likely to burst under pressure changes, leak all over people’s luggage or even explode. Pans are less treacherous.

Attention span

If you start and finish each painting in one go over no more than a couple of weeks, pans and tubes are equally good.

However, if you have the attention span of a butterfly, your mixes might stay on your palette for months (years?) Most manufacturers have different formulations for tube/pan paints. In order to stay wet in the tube – as long as it is air tight- the tube formula contains more Gum Arabic. This means that the paint is more prone to flaking after drying. If left on the palette for too long and rewetted repeatedly, it will start to become lumpy and goodbye smooth washes. (Which is why you must never squeeze tube paints into pans and keep them for ages.) Pan paints on the other hand are formulated to dry and be rewetted many times. So if you tend to flutter from one painting to another and back again, pans are better.

There is a notable exception to this general principle: brands that only produce tube paints (such as Daniel Smith) formulate them so that they behave as pans. They can be rewetted without being exaggeratingly troublesome and can therefore be squeezed into pans.

Tidiness

If you require extreme tidiness to work, tubes have the advantage. Pan boxes can get pretty messy, especially if neglected. They are high maintenance and require a regular clean up. This is especially true for the light colours, such as yellows, Permanent Rose, magentas, light greens… With tubes, you can wash the palette after the painting is finished and start afresh with clean colours.

Glamour and inspiration

When I look at my pan paintbox and my wooden box of tubes, I know exactly which one I like best.

My beautiful French Victorian paintbox with all the pans arranged in colour rows gives me a little catch in the heart every time I look at it. In comparison, the box of tubes is sort of “Meh…” Tools of the trade rather than inspirational grace.

As you can see from the pictures, I have both. I use my paintbox all the time, at home, for courses, when travelling… But I also have the same colours in tubes. These are useful when I fancy working on a larger scale. I also keep a couple of tubes in my pan paintbox: Lemon Yellow (so that it stays clean), Sap Green and Perylene Violet (because I use them a lot). I also have a tube of Winsor & Newton Smalt Blue, which was an anniversary limited edition and was never released in a pan version.

Now you can take all of this into consideration and make your choice…

If you have other reasons in favour of one or the other, please don’t hesitate to write a comment. It will help readers to make their choice.

Happy painting!

 

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Botanical Bites – my new painting series

holly-cropOn this brisk and sunny Sunday afternoon I should be outside enjoying the fresh air and doing some gardening… But I went clubbing on Friday night and went to an ice-hockey match last night. Two late nights in a row, I’m too old for this. So today, I am sprawled out on the sofa in front of the fireplace, making some crochet snowflakes instead of enjoying the plein air.

I also started a new series on Instagram called Botanical Bites.

I will regularly upload short videos showing painting in action.

I have just uploaded the first one, the painting of a wet-in-wet holly berry. All videos are less than one minute long, just a little bite, easy to swallow! Here is a link: https:www.instagram.com/sandrinemaugy

Every so often I will gather a few bites together and make a video for my YouTube channel.

Let me know what you think. Do you like the idea?

Happy painting!

 

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