The above image is my completed drawing of Cleyera Orbicularis (1). I’m extremely pleased with the final result of this drawing, as it is full of achievements for me: it was my first drawing using a photograph of a herbarium specimen, it was my first attempt at drawing true to scale (using the ruler at the side of the reference image) and it was my first ‘full’ section of a plant that I drew, incorporating a large number of leaves and structural details.
The whole process was very long and laborious – drawing to scale took a long time, as I first had to measure the features (which I did on my iPad for ease), and then translate that into an actual drawing on paper – trying to replicate the reference image as faithfully as possible. It wasn’t possible for me to be 100% accurate without tracing the image, as I only had a limited set of tools (pencil and a ruler), but I am happy that the final outcome is as true to life and accurate as possible. I then traced around my pencil outline with pen and ink, before starting to fill it in.
I then started to fill in the leaves and stem – choosing to fill the stem in first, before moving onto the much more detailed and time-consuming leaves. I made sure to keep in mind that less is more when adding in the shading and detail – something which I learnt in the first drawing I completed. This was a difficult balance in this drawing however, as I wanted to create definition between the ‘front’ and ‘backs’ of leaves – which had completely different textures and colours. However, I feel that I have achieved an equal balance – managing to make the leaves distinct, without compromising the overall clarity of the image.
As you can see from the above image, an unhappy accident befell my drawing – in the form of the large ink-droplet which landed on my drawing whilst I was packing my pen away. I cleaned it up the best I could, but I couldn’t remove it entirely from the paper. This was extremely frustrating for me, as I had spent such a long amount of time working on the drawing to this point, and I had wanted it to be my first ‘perfect’ drawing which I could display on the wall of the project space when I take it over this week. I considered trying to cover the blot up, however, I decided that in the long-run, this would actually look worse rather than better, and to just keep it as a part of the drawing. Although I am disappointed by the fact that it is there, I have come to peace with it, and finished the drawing regardless.
I am still very pleased with the final result of the drawing, and I am looking forward to experimenting with displaying it on the wall in the project space this coming week.
Following on from my post last week…
I have finished my first ‘proper’ drawing – although it isn’t one of the plants off my final list, the drawing is the first that I have completed based on a herbarium specimen (more on this later).
The plant that I chose to draw was Cleyera Orbicularis, and I have viewed it as a full practice for my work – including creating a botanical label for it.
This is the first label that I have designed fully, with the correct information, but I am very pleased with the results.
I have stuck with the main features from the design that I published last week, but I have added my own code where the Accession Number would be on a label in a botanical garden. The code I have used here is: 1918-7243CED1926, which tells you the (rough) geographical location of the plant, its IUCN Red-List status, its population status and the year that it was last seen. The geographical location (specifically the country it is native to, as the location in the bottom corner is a much less accurate area) is shown through coordinates that I obtained from GPS Coordinates (Haiti = Lat: 19.18, Long: -72.43 in Decimal Degrees). CE means Critically Endangered and is the IUCN Red List classification, whilst the D stands for Decreasing, which is the population status. Finally, 1926 was the last year this plant was observed in the wild. It took me a while to create this code, but I am very pleased with both its format and the amount of information that it conveys to the audience (once they know how to read it). (The image below shows my notes when creating the code)
The above images show my making two different test labels (you can see here that I actually made a mistake with the Natural Distribution section of the label, and wrote the country rather than the Land Region, which is what I was meant to put here (I have now fixed this). I have printed these in a much reduced quality than I would the ‘actual’ labels – as these were a test as to different forms of making, and size, etc. which is why they are a ‘grey’ tone rather than black – as I printed them on the draft setting. I have decided (after a tutorial last week) to create my labels using biodegradable materials, such as paper and cardboard (the cardboard I have used here is actually recycled packaging), which have a much lesser environmental impact than the plastic that is the standard material for botanical labels (as they have to withstand the elements). I would like to research recycled paper, etc. for creating the labels with.
Overall, I am very pleased with the final outcome of the labels – they need some perfecting, but they look fairly professional (something which will increase with better printing and materials) and the information conveyed and the final design I am 100% happy with, as it keeps the style of the botanical label, whilst also telling the audience about the plant in detail (the QR code I have added here takes you to the IUCN page for the plant – for my actual plants, I will create information pages about them) and being much more interactive (and hopefully accessible) than a standard botanical label.
I have become really fixed and excited on the idea of using the medium of the plant label in combination with my illustrations, as not only is it a link to the work of Alec Finlay, which I really enjoy, but it also uses an instantly recognisable object (with a specific link to living plants) to ground my work in the imagery and semiotics of botany and botanical referencing and recording.
To be able to use the labels correctly, I have done a little research into the layout and meaning of different parts of the label – the below image is from the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens website, and explains what each part of the label means:
As you can see here, there are multiple sections of the label pertaining to the name of the plant – as many plants have both a scientific (latin) name and a common one, (which are both displayed in the centre of the label – one below the other respectively) in addition to the name of the Family (Kingdom, Phylum, Order, Family, Genus, Species), which is displayed small in the top right-hand corner. In the bottom left-hand corner, there is the Natural Distribution of the plant – effectively telling you on which continent the plant is found natively. Then in the top left-hand corner, there is the Accession Number, which tells you about that individual plant, and in the bottom right-hand corner is the provenance of the plant (basically, where it was grown).
Having learnt this, I have then taken the elements of the label which have the most relevance for my project and what I want to use them for, and created my own, modified but still instantly recognisable, form of botanical label, as shown in the image below:
In my design, you can see that I have deliberately kept all of the elements pertaining to the name and distribution of the plant, as these are key pieces of information. However, the plant’s provenance and Accession Number are only of real use when used in botanical gardens as a means of keeping track of the individual plants they have collected there. As I am creating illustrations of plants, I have removed these pieces of information and replaced the Provenance with a QR Code which will take you to a page of information about the plant (which I am yet to create). Where the Accession Code is, I want to try and create my own code, which gives information about the conservation status of the plant, as I have a spreadsheet of information waiting to be used!I am not sure exactly how the code would look, but I am going to work on creating one over the next few days.
One area that my work will undoubtedly fall into, but I hadn’t considered was art with words, as the names of the plants themselves are just as crucial as their imagery – despite being much less accessible (the majority of the plants on my list have names in latin only).
In a tutorial last week, the name Alec Finlay was mentioned to me, as in 2002, he created Mesostic Plant Labels – a form of acrostic poem based on the names of different plants, using the distinctive style of botanical labels (the labels which are used to label plants in botanical gardens) as the format.
As you can see from the examples above, Finlay used the basic graphic imagery of the label, using the same type-face, materials and colours, but changed the layout to suit his own needs. The use of the traditional format of the botanical labels is a very interesting and clever one, as it creates an instant link for the audience between the subject and his poem – using semiotics to ground the project. This is something that I would like to use in my project, as instead of handwriting the labels of the plants (as is standard practice with scientific and botanical illustrations), the use of this style of label will subconsciously reinforce to the audience that this is a living plant – not just the subject of a botanical illustration. This also creates space for them to be used as labels when exhibiting the illustrations:
The above image is an idea or example of how the botanical labels could be utilised in an exhibition scenario – drawing the attention of the audience to the plant itself rather than the illustration – which is the overall aim of my project.
I have found a company who produces the labels: Sheen Botanical Labels and they detail a little of the process and materials used in producing them, which provides me with a starting point and something to think about – whether it is viable to make these labels as they are normally, or not.
One thing that I have realised through my conversations with tutors, peers and external parties, is that due to the scale of my degree project (or the scale that I want it to achieve), I haven’t got a clear idea of how my project might finally be disseminated with the world. It has always been clear that I want the project to be multi-faceted and multi-platform, using a wide range of media to engage with the largest audience possible. However, I have come to the conclusion that I need to decide on the final format of the project: how each disparate part might work together to create one large, interactive and cohesive unit.
The media which I am planning on using are:
- Youtube (Video)
- Social Media (Instagram)
- Website/App (digital exhibition?)
- Physical Display/Exhibit
- Printed Media (Book)
Some of these media are very clearly linked together: for instance, social media, website/app and YouTube, and exhibition, postcards and a book. However, having them all fit together under one ‘banner’ is the area I am having difficulty in. Ideally, I think, an app would be most successful – as it would be something that anyone could use and access, and would be a place people could use as a launchpad to learn more from the other resources/media. The only issue with this is that I have no experience in writing or coding apps, nor do I believe that I would have the time or resources in this module to do so, and would therefore need to export this task somewhere else… (which would require funding) I am also going to have to think about the ‘merchandising’ of the project more carefully – to begin with, coming up with a title that I can use over all media for the dissemination of my project.