Recently, I had tutorials with both Jane and Anne-Marie, both of which offered different and useful insights on my work, and how I can develop it further. These are the notes that I made:

Tutorial with Jane:

  • Riso-printing (a technique I want to use in our print portfolio project) is often used in politics for posters etc. This might be something I consider when making the prints, and how that will affect how the prints are read.
  • Try and speed up the drawing process where possible, in order to draw as many of the plants on my list as possible.
  • Research the Radical Nature exhibition for more land art and environmental artists and works.
  • Look at the Land and Environmental Art book for more artist references and ideas on installation, thinking ahead to the degree show.
  • Maybe consider presenting the list on the wall next to the illustrations (added just now – but projected over the top?)

Although quite a short tutorial, it was useful for further referencing, as well as discussing the practicalities of the degree show, which we’re now starting to think about.

Tutorial with Anne-Marie:

This was my second tutorial with Anne-Marie, and again, a very useful one. These are the notes that I made throughout:

  • Find ways to make my drawings quicker – I have proven I can draw freehand and measure, but the more effective exhibit would be to have a much larger number of works to show.
  • Use Tracedown – a form of artists carbon paper (I have now invested in some and will try it for my next drawing).
  • For display, make sure that I use washi-tape for the pins to go through. MT Washi-tape is the best, as it is strongest and not too sticky.
  • Select pins that look archival (copper or brass coloured), in order to reinforce the idea of this being an archive of endangered plants.
  • Maybe think about how I represent the rewilding element in the degree show too – could I bring a ‘rewilded section’ into the studio?

This tutorial really spurred me on to try and speed up my process and to lay aside my internal prejudices of using the tracedown paper – as although the works are impressive and effective, they will be more so with a larger number of works to show.


The above image shows the completed drawing of the third endangered plant from my list: Acer pentaphyllum. As this was another plant which only had a herbarium specimen photo for me to reference, I did the drawing using the pen and ink method, this time using the new Rotring technical drawing pens that I got for Christmas, and the pencil and ruler that came with them.

When drawing the pencil outline, I was more selective than when I drew the Catacol Whitebeam, as there were many repeated elements, such as the seeds and additional leaves that weren’t necessary to include multiple times, when I had already drawn them once. The two images below show the reference photograph (which also has the measurement annotations that I made on it), along with an in process pencil outline, thus showing the (minimal) differences between the main structures of the two. Although in many ways, what I am doing cannot be compared with the work of other botanical illustrators such as Lucy Smith and Hazel Wilks, I was pleased with the fact that I was ‘editing’ the image before illustrating, because it is similar to the process that botanical illustrators and botanists go through when creating an illustration:

“the illustrator should come away with a good idea of everything that needs to be included in the illustration, although this may change once the illustrator’s own investigations begin.” Smith, L. (2021)

The drawing out process took a long time, for a number of reasons, but the main one being that I stopped part way through in order to work on my dissertation. However, once the dissertation was completed and handed in, I refocused my attentions on the drawing, completing it and beginning to work on adding the ink. This was almost like a completely new process, as the technical drawing pens behaved very differently to the dip pens – being much more controllable and accurate for a start. I decided to use the mid size (0.35) pen to draw the main outlines in, whilst after some trial and error, deciding to use the smallest sized pen (0.25) to draw the finest details and to create the shading and structure on the illustration. This provided some definition between the outlines and the details, which is present in ‘professional’ illustrations, as well as providing an element of clarity to the illustration, aiding its legibility.

These photos show the process of drawing:

Overall, this is probably the drawing that I am most pleased with. It is certainly the most accurate and least mistake ridden of the pieces (I don’t have any ink splats this time, due to the new pens) I have made so far, and it was also the one that I felt most confident on in terms of mark making (one. I got back into it again). I feel that I am starting to find my way with the pen and ink illustrations, and they are the ones that I actually prefer drawing most of all, for the accuracy and clarity of line and the legibility that they hold for the viewer. However, I think the pencil drawings are often more engaging for the viewer – although the level of detail in the pen and ink drawings also draws the viewers in (to examine the drawing in greater detail).


Update: 08/06/22: Although I was proud of my work for Interim at the time, looking back now that I have installed in my space for degree show, I can see how far I have progressed. I can also see how much more professional and impactful having a larger number of drawings, in addition to a more considered installation, with different a wall colour and more considered and accurate layout makes the work. Looking back, there is so much more I could have done for Interim, and that I am really glad that I have made the effort to do for the Degree Show.


The above image is of the two illustrations I exhibited in Interim. Although it may not be obvious from the outset, I didn’t exhibit the drawings themselves here, rather I exhibited digital prints of them instead. Doing this allowed me to make sure that the originals (as they form part of an ongoing collection/series) remained unspoiled by the viewers – as I displayed them mounted directly to the boards, without any form of protection.

However, displaying the prints created their own issues – the first one being that I had to carefully edit each image in order to make sure that it portrays the work in the most accurate and clear way possible – I didn’t want the meaning and message of the work to be lost in the digital reproduction. This involved editing, trial printing, re-editing and  trial printing the works before being happy enough with the outcome, as the works did alter in looks when they were put through the printer. After achieving a print which was as close to the original as I was able to accomplish, I was then faced with the new challenge of the works themselves being curved. As the printer used one large roll of paper to print from, the prints naturally curved, which meant that the method of hanging that I wanted to use originally (tape and nails, in order to further evoke the idea of the archive) was unusable, due to the fact that the prints reverted back to their curved state, ripping through the tape which held them to the board. I therefore had to quickly change tactics, and instead use command strips, which were strong and secure enough to hold the prints flat against the wall. This was undoubtedly effective and the right move to make for this exhibition where I used the digital prints, but for the degree show, I know that I would much rather use the tape and pins method, as it does evoke the idea of the archive, as well as creating a bit more of an edge to the method of display – almost like framing them.

Having reflected on the exhibition, it appears that there is much that I wasn’t happy with, and that I will change for the Degree Show. Although this might be the case, I am none-the-less proud of what I achieved in this exhibition – I believe it had the power and impact that I wanted it to have, as well as being an achievement for me – to have my work up in such a public place, to be admired and thought about by the general public.


From the 4th February 2022 until the 1st March 2022, we had our interim exhibition Interim in The Hold foyer. This was our first in person, public exhibition since starting the course, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and therefore, the process of creating and curating the exhibition was all new too. Overall however, I found the experience a very interesting and enjoyable one, and it has given me more confidence for when we curate our Degree Show, which is the next public exhibition that we will be doing.

The process of creating the exhibition started months in advance (before Christmas), when we got together and examined the space, and thought about the kind of work that we would want to show there, and how each of our individual works fitted together into one exhibition. This was a really interesting process to go through, as many people in the group wanted to curate the exhibition with one set theme, which we would all work towards. However, this didn’t fit in with my degree project at all, as my project is one continuous one, which leaves no time for creating new, different work, and I didn’t want to change my focus. Fortunately, due to other time constraints, this idea was pretty quickly abandoned, and we instead turned our minds to other elements, such as the name, social media presence, what we might want to exhibit and each of our roles for the exhibition.

I made a group onedrive, so that we were able to work on the project together, and have access to everything that everyone else did – as it makes working and organising so much easier when its from a shared workspace.

As you can see from the screenshot of the onedrive above, it gave us the space to work as a group – with each individual part of the project having its own space on the drive. This meant that when Melisa designed our brilliant logo, we were all able to see the different designs and have an input on how we felt it should look, as well as having access to the final design to create additional elements such as the Private View invite, or to make the GIF to share on Instagram.

Novotná, M. (2022) Interim Logo. [Digital Design]

Having this shared work environment aided our organisation and curation of the logistic elements of the exhibition, as well as Trish’s curation of the Virtual Exhibition, however, there were still many elements which required being there, in the space in person, in order to understand the relationship between the works and the works and the space. Although I was very flexible about the space my work would be displayed in (it didn’t have any particular requirements, and it didn’t need a lot of space, as it consisted of only two drawings), others weren’t and it was very interesting to take our works into the space before hanging them, in order to try them on the different board settings. The works were very influenced by the space itself – much more so than I expected, and the situation of some works in one location just felt wrong in some cases, but completely intuitive and right in others. This time wasn’t without its contentions though, and there were some tense moments of disagreement between some members of the group due to differing ideas of placement. But we got through them, and it has helped me to understand and appreciate the value of conversation and collaboration much more – as although things didn’t always go to plan or as we wanted, generally, when we spoke about it after a while and had time to calm down a little, things weren’t as bad as they seemed, and we were always able to reach a suitable outcome.

I was really happy with the placement of my work, and the relationship between it and the two works on either side of it – particularly the relationship my work had with Charlotte’s, as both works were quite minimalistic, and grounded in nature and the natural world – thus creating a perfect and very ‘natural’ progression between the two works. There was also a lovely relationship between mine and Trish’s works, which were opposite mine on the other side of the space; both were drawn in some way, and the general feeling of the two works seemed to work together – I think it was the reflective feeling of them – they both seemed quite calming and meditative – something which was also reflected in Charlotte’s work. Overall, the placements of all of the works were, I feel, really successful, and allowed each of them to be admired and examined to their full potential. They worked in harmony with the space and each other, and created a really successful exhibition.



I’ve had to take time away from my Degree Project and (therefore) blog to focus and hand it my dissertation – but that’s all done now, so I’ll be posting a lot more blogs to bring you up to speed on what has been happening over the past month and a bit!