Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.
She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :
Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.
Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.
By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!
By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.
Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!
Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.
I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy. Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.
He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!
Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!
Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999
This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles). I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60); Birds (Page 63); and Pigs (Page 65). The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008. Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.
You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service
A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs. Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters by Moira Butterfield 1995
A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!
There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.Please note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.
Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!
All design, art and crafts require a basic grasp of drawing skills, even if only to portray the desired idea, so it is useful to own a few sketching and drawing books. For example, my recent design for a Christmas table runner, based on Eastern European Folk Art and the accompanying Russian wooden spoons. While my sketch is appalling artistically, it only needed to be a rough line drawing to portray the basic design! See the sequence of photos below! My first draft: While there are many brilliant books on this subject, here are a few titles, which have helped my journey, even though I will never be totally confident about my skills! While covering similar subject matter, they vary in presentation and approach, so I am sure there will be one that appeals to you! Please note that I have divided this topic into three posts, due to its length. Today, I am discussing six Sketching and Painting Books; Part Two is on Wednesday and includes four of my favourite Art Books, specifically written for Children, while in Part Three on Thursday, I am featuring nine books on Watercolour Painting and Artists’ Journals.
A. Sketching Books
Sketching for Beginners: A Pocket How To Do It by Geoffrey Elliot 1970
My first proper sketching guide and my starter for a lifetime pursuit of improving my drawing ability, though I think that I have now accepted my limited talent in this area!
This small volume discusses:
Chapter One: Sketching Defined: This chapter looks at the different kinds of sketches and the purposes behind them: the reference sketch for supplying material for your own personal dictionary; the study sketch used for a definite purpose, whether it be a working drawing for a finished art work or sculpture or a work in itself; the practice sketch to train your observation powers and hand-eye coordination; and the statement sketch, complete as it stands, without the notes and visual shorthand aids of the reference or study sketches.
Chapter Two: Equipment and Media: I LOVE visiting art shops with all their wonderful selection of artistic mediums and tools. So inspiring and make you want to dash straight back home with your new purchases and start using them! This chapter covers the basic equipment required from pencils and erasers; watercolours and brushes; paper and sketch-books to drawing boards and easels; gummed tape; fixatives and sponges; and viewfinders and plumb lines. It discusses a wide variety of media: Pen and Ink; Charcoal; Conté; Pastels; Wax Crayons; Felt Pens; Gouache; and Acrylics.
Chapter Three: Choosing Your Subject: A few notes for beginners on keeping it simple; being kind to yourself and not too ambitious; artistic licence; being interested in your subject matter; and the rigours of prolonged concentration, thereby emphasing the importance of comfort and a fresh eye with plenty of breaks. Subjects include family and home life; still life arrangements; the garden and outdoor scenes (eg parks and beaches); and landscape scenes.
Chapter Four: Observation and Technique: Observation, from all angles and in great detail, and composition; line and tone (I think that I am quite good with line, it’s portraying the areas of light and shade, which I find difficult!); colour (colour range, blending, building up,and glazing); stretching paper for watercolour; mass and detail; texture; and observation and judgement.
Chapter Five: Using Your Sketches:Squaring up and transposing a composition; reference sketches; and framing; with suggestions for further reading and art lessons.
All in all, a good little book for beginners, though it has been superseded by some far more detailed and lavish publications.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards 1979/ 1989
With a sub title like that, how could I resist! Or any would-be artist for that matter! Apparently, it is the best-selling drawing book in the world, having sold over 1 250 000 copies and been translated into ten languages (now seventeen!) by its second publication. I actually bought the later publication (Revised and Expanded with a New Colour Selection) after a course on ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ and found both the course and the book to be very illuminating!The basic theory is that drawing is primarily an activity of the right brain, the hemisphere responsible for creativity and artistic ability; intuition, perception and spatial ability; and chess, music and mathematics, while the left brain specialises language (both verbal and written), symbols and abstraction; timing and sequencing; and reasoning, logic and critical analysis. I have a very well-developed critical left brain!! See the photo of her table from page 40 below: After further discussion on brain hemispheres and the crossover connections between them, as well as the development of artistic ability in children, the author provides a series of exercises to stimulate the right brain and confuse the left brain, or rather suppress its critical analysis and self-doubt talk!
A prime example is my line drawing of the lady below in glasses. We had to draw a continuous line, constantly focusing on the subject and without looking down at the paper. The minute I did so at the end of the session, my critical left brain kicked in with noticing the different shape of the lenses in the glasses, but on closer observation of the angle at which I had drawn the subject, my rendition was totally accurate!Other exercises included: Drawing upside-down; drawing the negative space; contour drawing; and using view finders and sighting techniques.
Other topics include: Perspective (always a tricky problem!); proportion; angles and composition; light and shadow; and colour.
Start to Draw by Robert Capitolo and Ken Schwab 2006
Another small paperback guide for beginners, with similar content, but a far more up-to-date and contemporary presentation, as well as more modern materials, to my original sketching book.
Chapter One covers Materials and Tools: Pencils; charcoal; coloured pencils and chalks; pen and ink; paper and other surfaces; erasers; fixatives and scratchboards.
Chapter Two explains the Basic Concepts:
Elements of Art (Line; colour; texture; shape and form; value; size and space);
Qualities of Shading (light and dark sides; highlights; cast shadow; reflected light; and back shading); and
Principles of Composition (Centre of Interest; balance; harmony; contrast; directional movement; and rhythm).
Chapter Three covers :
The Sketching Process: Drawing from photos and observation; and shape and form; and
Ways of Suggesting Depth: Interposition; size and spacing; foreshortening and the use of perspective: atmospheric perspective ; diminishing clarity; and linear perspective: one-point; two-point and three-point.
Various perspective terms are defined: Horizon line; eye level; station point; picture plane; line of sight; vanishing point; parallel lines; converging lines and foreshortening. There is also a simple Still-Life Activity to practice these concepts.
Chapter Four: Working with Images: Cropping and Grids, which has further activities: Making and using a viewfinder to aid composition; enlarging images using the diagonal method or by using a grid; and using the latter to also distort an image.
The next section of the book presents seven projects to develop shading abilities, an area where I require much more practice! They include:
Project One: Smudge Shading on a Contour Drawing: Includes more information about Composition;
Project Two: Ink Drawing With Hatch and Cross-Hatch Shading;
Project Three: Montage Composition with Cross-Hatch and Smudge Shading: Involves the composition of several images and practicing the gradation of values with lines;
Project Four: Random Line Shading with Gesso: Including preparation of the gesso board; transferring the preliminary drawing to the gesso board; shading the drawing; and the use of photos as a source of subject matter;
Project Five: Charcoal Portrait on Toned Paper: Including a guide to facial proportions;
Project Six: Cross-Hatching on Scratchboard; and
Project Seven: Nonobjective Design with Coloured Pencil : Including using a viewfinder; enlarging the composition; mixing colours with coloured pencils; and colour theory.
An excellent beginner’s guide to sketching!
The Complete Book of Drawing: Essential Skills for Every Artist by Barrington Barber 2006
A terrific book, which must be the ultimate guide to sketching, being a larger size and very comprehensive!
The first chapter, First Stages, is quite a lengthy chapter and covers all the Basics: Implements and materials; holding the pencil, using the paper, working at an easel and using rule of thumb to determine size and proportions; lines and circles; 3-D shapes; ellipses; groups of objects; corrections; identifying the source of light; modelling and shading; composition; simple perspective; technical aids; proportions in detail; foreshortening; aerial perspective; drawing plants and choosing landscapes, using hands or a card frame to isolate views; the effect of different eye levels; proportions of the human figure; and animals simplified.
The next chapter, Chapter Two, examines Object Drawing and Still-Life Composition, a good place to start as the subject matter doesn’t move!!! It discusses objects of different materiality; simple still-lifes and shading; exercises in looking and drawing; still-life themes; composition, angles and viewpoints; still-life in a setting; and large objects.
Chapter Threediscusses the Experience of Drawing: Perspective views; irregular perspective; constructing a view along a street; areas of light and dark; angles; triangles and rectangles; human architecture; ellipses in perspective; using a common unit of measurement; perspective terminology; relationships in the picture plane; Alberti’s system; field of vision; chequerboard to create an illusion of depth; and dealing with movement.
Chapter Four concentrates on Form and Shape: Architectural forms; shape recognition; creating form; approaches to form; and exercises in simplifying and realizing form; while Chapter Five is all about Forms of Nature:
Plants: Flowers and trees; trees in the landscape and tree growth patterns and shapes; landscapes from different perspectives; experimenting with different media; depiction of earth, water and sky;
Animals: Movement; large animals; and drawing on the hoof; and
Introduction to the Human Figure: Heads; facial features and hair; perspective views; hands; musculature; composition of figures; close ups of joints; and clothing and movement.
Chapter Six enlarges on the latter subject area with Figure Drawing and Portraiture: Drawing from life; different poses; nudes; the torso; movement; proportions; closeups on legs and feet; arms and hands; mouths and eyes; and noses and ears; the head at different angles; facial expressions; juvenile features; form and clothing; expressing movement and attitudes; and spontaneous portraiture, backed up by a series of revision exercises. There is also a section on caricature: its use in satire and art; stereotyping; and modern trends in caricature.
Chapter Seven focuses on Styles and Techniques: Pencil drawing; simple outlines and precision; pen and ink and line and wash; chalk on toned paper; the use of scraperboards; different techniques, including blotting; card-edge and silver-point techniques; line versus tone and experimenting with light; action for drama; and the genius of simplicity.
Composition is the main topic of Chapter Eight: Analysis and geometry of composition; movement and abstract and naturalistic design in composition; interiors; creating and balancing a composition; emotional content; and variations on a theme.
The final chapterlooks at the Drawings of the Great Masters: Ancient Greeks; Leonardo da Vinci; Raphael; Michelangelo; Rubens; Holbein the Younger; Rembrandt; Tiepolo; Watteau; Ingres; Delacroix; Turner; Degas; Renoir; Seurat; Cézanne; Matisse; Picasso; and Henry Carr. By acute observation of their works, techniques and methods and economy of effort and by practicing their style, the sketching student can learn so much and can further develop their own abilities.
2. General Guides to Drawing and Painting
Sketching and Painting: A Step by Step Introduction by FC Johnston 1976
Probably more an introductory book about painting, this publication was my husband’s first sketching book. Like me, he too yearned to become a better sketcher, but unlike me, he continues to practice, and is hence better at it! There are six parts to this book:
Part One: Preparation for Painting: The artist’s eye; basic equipment; working outdoors; the selection and arrangement of subjects; and composition and perspective.
Part Two: Painting in Watercolour: Paints, brushes and paper; paper preparation and laying down a wash; monochrome and colour paintings; mixing colours; and trees, foliage and grass.
Part Three: Painting in Oils: Equipment and basic techniques; monochrome and colour painting; colour mixing; trees; and further techniques and painting surfaces.
Part Four: Painting with Acrylic Colours: Acrylic paints; opaque qualities and texture; transparent washes; and knife painting.
Part Five: The Art of Sketching: Using a pencil; studies in pen and ink; pens without nibs; and sketching with charcoal and conté crayon.
Part Six: Mounting, Framing and General Advice: Mounting and framing oils and acrylics, watercolours and sketches; and final random thoughts and advice.
How To Paint and Draw: A Complete Course on Practical and Creative Techniques by Hazel Harrison 1994
Another excellent guide to painting and drawing, which is the equivalent of Barrington Barber’s book in its comprehensive and thorough coverage of drawing, watercolour, oil, acrylics and pastels. It is hard to believe that there would be any neglected facet of this vast subject area!The book begins appropriately with Part One: Drawing, as basic drawing ability is an essential foundation to painting.
It begins with Monochromatic Materials (pencils, conté crayon, charcoal, pen, inks and brushes ; and papers) and techniques for use with each different medium, including:
Pencil: Line and tone; and frottage;
Charcoal: Erasing techniques;
Conté crayon: Paper texture; and working with three colours;
Pen and ink: Scribble drawing; hatching and cross-hatching; line and wash; and brush drawing.
The book progresses to Colour Drawing Materials: Coloured pencils; pastels; inks and markers; and papers, and again, various techniques are discussed for each different medium:
Coloured pencil: Colour mixing; burnishing; and impressing;
Pastels: Mark making; oil pastels; and papers;
Inks and markers: Drawing with coloured inks and markers; textured papers; and wax resist.
The Mechanics of Drawing is then discussed, including the concepts of accuracy; proportions and size; drawing shapes and forms; negative shapes; line, lost and found edges and contours; sketching; subject material; figure drawing; animals; buildings; and perspective, scale and proportion.
Part Two: Watercolor:
Includes: Paints, brushes and papers; advice on mixing colours; colour theory; laying washes (flat, gradated and variegated) and dealing with edges; underdrawings; squaring up; working wet-on-dry or wet-into-wet; brushwork; lifting out; masking; using opaque paint; texturing methods (dry brush; toothbrush or paintbrush spatter and salt spatter); wax resist; line and wash; backruns; paint additives (gum arabic; ox gall; soap; and turpentine); and two special sections, focusing on landscapes and flowers.
I found this section to be particularly useful, as I love the effect of watercolours, but it is quite a difficult medium technically.
Part Three: Oils and Acrylics:
Discusses: Paints, brushes and mediums; palettes and painting surfaces; primary and secondary colours; using a restricted palette; colour relationships; painting white; working alla prima (wet-into-wet) and underpainting; working on a tinted ground; brushwork; impasto; knife painting; glazing; broken colour; removing paint (scraping back; sgraffito and tonking); and special sections, which focus on still-lifes; landscapes; and figures and portraits.
Part Four: Pastel Painting:
Focuses on: Types of pastels (hard, soft, oil), pastel pencils and papers; line strokes; mixing pastels and building up pastels; experimenting with different papers; tinting papers; wet brushing; underpainting; charcoal and pastel; laying a textured ground; and sgraffito– such a great word (!), it refers to the scratching or scraping of the top layer of colour to reveal another colour below; with special sections on using pastels to portray landscapes, flowers, and faces and figures.
I would love to be better with pastels, but I find it a very messy medium with which to work and often end up smudging unwanted colour with the bottom edge of my hand in the wrong spots!
Each part gives examples of work done in each medium at the start of each section; practical demonstrations of techniques in each medium; and comparative demonstrations to show the different approaches and effects. In the back, there is a list of stockists and suppliers for Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Next week, I shall be discussing some of my favourite Art Books for Children.
Bithry Inlet, at the mouth of Wapengo Lake, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, is another favourite beauty spot in Summer. Its shallow waters are perfect for families with young children, as well as fishermen (who catch bream, salmon, mulloway and flathead) and birdwatchers. In the photo above is a lone puffer fish, while the photos below shows a congress of Pied Oystercatchers, discussing the latest weather! Here is a photo of our map to give you an idea of its location!
This area also has an interesting historical component, of which we were unaware on our first two visits. We always knew that the land adjoining Bithry Inlet, the property called Penders, had been donated by Ken Myers and Sir Roy Grounds to the New South Wales Government for incorporation into Mimosa Rocks National Park, but did not realize that it contained a number of significant structures and areas that the general public could explore, as indicated by the map on the interpretive signs at the site: They include: the Myer House and precinct (though this is off-limits when booked out in holiday times); the Barn and Geodesic Dome; the Bum Seat, The Point, the picnic table and various sculptures and structures like the old Wind Tower; the Forest Plantation; the Orchard and Lake; and the various coastal walks, including a 2 Km walk to Middle Beach. Each area is well-signposted with interpretive signs seen above (which were produced by The Interpretive Design Company, based on NPWS brand templates, and can also be accessed on http://interpretivedesign.com.au/portfolio/wayfinding/wayfinding-signs/. They give maps and information about the history and all the personalities involved. Here is a brief summary!
Kenneth Baillieu Myers (1921-1992) was the Director and Chairman of the famous Myer Emporium, which had been established by his father Sidney, a Russian immigrant, in Melbourne in 1911. His background and the development of this iconic business is an amazing story in itself. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/myer-simcha-sidney-7721.
Like his father, Kenneth was a successful businessman, a patron of the arts, humanities and sciences and a great philanthropist, being heavily involved with and donating to a wide number of institutions, including:
The Howard Florey Institute for medical science research;
Canberra’s National Library, of which he was chairman from 1974 to 1982;
The National Capital Planning Committee;
The Australian Universities Commission;
The Australian Broadcasting Commission, of which he was chairman from 1983 to 1986; and
The National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian Arts Centre, which he chaired from 1965 to 1989.
During his time at the National Gallery of Victoria, he developed a close friendship with Sir Roy Grounds, the architect of the Victorian Arts Centre, built in 1968. They shared each other’s visions and design philosophies, as well as a love of nature, conservation and creativity.
Sir Roy Burman Grounds (1905-1981) was a pivotal figure in the development of Modernism in Australian house design. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grounds-sir-roy-burman-12571. Famous for the design of the Victorian Arts Centre, which won the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture Gold Medal in 1968, he received a knighthood in 1969. He was fascinated by idealistic geometric forms and strongly believed in nature as a central influence in his creative process, both tenets which he was able to fully explore in the building of his structures at Penders.
Roy Grounds initially purchased the 544 acre (224 hectares) property in May 1964, but he and Ken Myers became tenants in common with equal shares in 1966. The land, which stretched from Bithry Inlet south to Middle Beach, was predominantly covered in spotted gum and mahogany forest with an understorey of macrozamias, though much of it had been cleared to graze dairy cattle. For historical information about the property, see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/cmpFinalPenders02Historical.pdf. By January 1965, the Myers and Grounds families were camping at Penders.The first structure built at Penders was a simple slab seat at The Point, affording panoramic views over the sea and entrance to Bithry Inlet (first photo) and back over the inlet to Wapengo Lake (second photo). The seat was built from 1964-1965 from slabs, salvaged from an enormous tree felled before their arrival at Penders, with small log rounds acting as low stools and tables.In 1965, Roy Grounds submitted plans for a barn,which was built with the help of locals, Bob Hunter and Nev Whittle, and which Roy and his wife, Betty, then proceeded to use as a holiday house. It’s a delightful structure and is also known locally as The Tepee! Based on a nonagon (nine sides), The Barn was built from spotted gum logs, cut on site and treated with an early version of the Tanalith process, while the floor is made of small timber rounds from off-cuts, thus reducing waste (second photo below).The walls and ceiling are formed by bright yellow blinds, which were raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys, to control light, weather and cross-ventilation and allow a harmonious union between nature and the built environment. They billow like sails in the wind and at night were a canvas for red and gold reflections from the flickering fire!Originally, the barn had a sod roof of yellow daisies in amongst Kikuya grass, but unfortunately, it became a home to bush rats and the weight of the roof in wet weather caused sagging of the roof and splaying of the barn supports, threatening imminent collapse! This is a photo of the original sod roof from the interpretive board. It was replaced by a corrugated yellow fibreglass roof, which acted as a permanent beacon of golden light, which could be seen from Wapengo Lake, until it too was replaced with the current roof in 1993. Below is a photo of the inside of the roof:Inside, there was a wood stove and hot water service; a septic system; a sunken bathroom; a battery room, housing a dozen 12 volt car batteries, storing power from an 11 metre tall wind tower beyond the Point; and even a kitchen sink! The Wind Tower was built by Nev Whittle in 1964 from untreated stringybark poles in a tripod construction, braced at intervals, with a ladder attached and 3 wind blades on the top. A 32 volt DC generator was housed in a shed at the base of the windmill, with wires leading underground to the battery room of the Barn. Water was pumped in from tanks and dams.Outside the Barn is a outdoor table and bench, the Marr Bench and Table, so called because they were designed and built by Marr Grounds, Roy’s son, also an architect, sculptor and educator, being the Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design and Art in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sydney until 1985. See: http://www.marrgrounds.com.au.
We ate our picnic there, accompanied by a rather quiet swamp wallaby.Nearby is the Bum Seat, also designed by Marr, another wonderful spot to dream and contemplate and admire the stunning Bithry Inlet! The Bum Seat is a simple timber slab, inscribed with the imprints of two large and two smaller female and male bottoms. Marr also erected a number of statues around the grounds, as well as a few utility buildings.The nearby Geodesic Dome was constructed by Roy after the Barn to house his carpentry tools and then, Betty’s vegetable and herb garden. Its form is based on the repetitive use of a single geometric shape, the triangle, with the three ends of tanalith-treated saplings, each meeting another 5 triangles, the hub giving the dome its structural stability and protected by galvanised Tomlin garbage tin lids. Eighty percent of the dome was enclosed using panels of yellow sail cloth, the north facing aspect glazed with clear acrylic and was heated by the battery system, allowing the cultivation of pawpaws!Being passionate about conservation and environment, the Myers and Grounds planted many trees to revegetate the previously logged site and in 1966, started a small scale commercial timber production, using a Tanalith treatment process (using Copper azole). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_preservation. By the mid-1970s, eucalypt plantations were established on one third of the property, being cared for and maintained by John and Mary Cremerius, who were originally employed to clean up the degraded site, with a team of seven foresters under the supervision of Lindsay Pryor, a botanist and expert in eucalyptus taxonomy, who founded the Australian National Botanic Garden. By 1982, there were 1050 trees planted to each hectare and today, there are over 60 000 trees in various stages of growth.The Myer House was designed by Sir Roy Grounds for Ken and his first wife, Prue, and their five children, and built between 1969 and 1970 by Kingsley Koellner, with the help of George Hoylands, of Bega. Below are some photos of the Myer House and Precinct, including the tennis court, outdoor table and path down to the beach. Ken and Prue divorced in 1977, Ken remarrying a Japanese artist, Yasuko Hiraoka (1945-1992), later that year. Ken and Yasuko modified the house by adding a series of infilled spaces to the perimeter verandah. They also moved the kitchen from the entrance hall, which was refitted to allow the Japanese practice of removing one’s shoes before entering the house.Yasuko shared Ken’s passion for the natural world, working on the vegetables and herbs, while Ken pruned the fruit trees and roses. I love the netted Orchard with its huge old camellias and old gnarled fruit trees,
although it’s all a bit the worse for wear these days, allowing previously prohibited access by kangaroos like this huge fellow! While they lived there, they were virtually self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, with supplies topped up by the produce of the Cremerius garden and the odd spot of fishing. The orchard was watered from the nearby dam, a very peaceful spot covered in water lilies. In 1983 and 1985, Yasuko’s father, Masa Suke Hiraoka, laid out a small nine-hole golf course nearby, the first tee marked by a timber block with his initials, MH. The area is slowly regenerating since revegetation work was carried out in 1993. Unfortunately, Ken and Yasuko died in a light airplane crash, when on a fishing expedition, in Alaska at the end of July 1992. There is a lovely memorial site to their memory up on the ridge in the forest. Joanna Baevski, Ken’s daughter, became the lessee of the Myers precinct on their death and from 1993 to 1994, added a bedroom for her daughter on the north-east corner of the house.Sir Roy Grounds and Kenneth Myer had offered Penders to the New South Wales State Government back in 1973, on the basis that it would be reserved as National Park. It was officially gifted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in 1976, being incorporated into the 5802 hectare Mimosa Rocks National Park. Marr Grounds and his daughter became the lessees of the Ground’s precinct after Roy’s death in 1981, with Marr being the primary occupant and caretaker till 2011. The blinds of the Barn were replaced in 1984 after 20 years of gales and Marr dismantled the windmill in 1996, leaving three inclined posts as a sculptural relic and installed a series of commemorative lead plaques across the site after Ken’s death.In 1981, the Barn was placed on the Register of the National Estate. In 1991, it was classified by the National Trust and included on its register and in 1998, the Barn, Geodesic Dome and the site of the former timber preservation works were added to the NSW State Heritage Inventory as an example of coastal forest regeneration, a plantation timber production and experimental architecture.The final parcel of land of 20 hectares was handed over to NPWS in 2011 on the expiry of the Myer and Grounds’ leases. In 2012, the Myer House underwent extensive renovation work, restoring the interiors to their original style, and is now available to the general public for short-term stays for up to 12 people. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/myer-house. In 2013, Penders was added to the State Heritage Register.
We loved exploring the history of the area, as well as doing the 2 Km walk south to Middle Beach. See: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/middle-lagoon-walking-track. The track follows the coast through grassland (first two photos) and into the forest with its beautiful misshapen tree trunks (3rd and 4th photos), across cliff tops, ridges and gullies, past the Middle Beach Trig (5th photo) and Stinking Bay, so called named for the dead fish which accumulate in the bay, to the lovely ocean beach (6th photo), lagoon (7th photo) and rock platforms (8th photo). Here are some photos from our walk in July 2017. En route, we were lucky enough to see, not just one, but three echidnas! According to the National Park Ranger, who we also met along the way, echidnas mate in Winter, often forming trains of up to 10 male echidnas following a female, and their sighting often foretells rain and yes, we did indeed get rain two days later! For more on Penders , see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5053623.
I have always loved lavender and given its future potential use in our garden, I thought it would be useful to research this lovely plant for my feature plant post for February. Every Winter, the steep agapanthus bank between our top terrace and the main part of the garden gets badly frost-damaged, to the extent that photography of the Spring garden with the house in the background is severely compromised due to the dead brown patches, prompting thoughts about other suitable plants, which could withstand the frost and better utilise the terraced beds. In the photo below, the frost-prone area is on the bank, directly in front of the verandah with smaller recovering bulbs, couch grass and weeds. A friend suggested lavenders as they have mild frost-tolerance, a long flowering period (mid-Spring through to Autumn), a beautiful scent and multiple uses, as well as their colour being very complementary to the soft mauve exterior colour of our house.History and General Notes
Lavenders belong to the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, which also includes mints (Mentha) and sages (Salvia), as seen in the photo of the bouquet below. The genus Lavandula has 28 species and many subspecies, hybrids and cultivars, divided into five main groups: Stoechas; Spica; Pterostoechas; Chaetostoechas; and Subnuda. For the purposes of this post, I will be concentrating on the lavenders belonging to the first three groups, as they represent the majority of plants in cultivation and the home garden.Lavenders have a widespread distribution from the Mediterranean region (France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal) to the Middle East; Western Asia; India; tropical Northern Africa and the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands.They also have a long history of use since Ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was used for its cleansing and medicinal properties. In fact, the name Lavender is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means ‘to wash’. The Ancient Romans perfumed their baths with the oil of Lavandula spica (photo above), while the Ancient Greeks used lavender more for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Greek physician, Dioscorides described Lavandula stoechas (photo below) as a laxative and stimulant in his Materia Medica 60 AD, stating that it grew near Gaul on the islands of Stoechas, now known as Îles de Hyères.The expectorant and antispasmodic properties of the flowers were also used in the 6th century Byzantine Empire, as well as by later Arabs, who also used them in a skin toner, a cheek rouge and a perfumed hair powder. It was introduced into France by Charlemagne in 800 AD and was grown extensively in medieval monastery gardens for its medicinal properties, scent and use in the kitchen. Sticadore (Lavandula stoechas) was one of the ingredients, along with rosemary, wormwood, rue, sage and mint, in the Four Thieves Vinegar, used to combat the plague. Lavendar was also very popular in Tudor and Elizabethan times from 1485 to 1603. English Knot Gardens were defined by lavender hedges and Elizabeth I is said to have always had a bowl of lavender conserve on the table. During the 18th Century, Oil of Spic (or Aspic, made from Lavandula latifolia, a member of the Spica group) was used in quick drying varnishes and to dilute paint colours used in porcelain painting. The oil was distilled in Southern France, especially Provence, and Spain. See: http://www.sca3p.com/en/cooperative-essential-oils-provence/production-history-perfume-plants. Lavender sellers were a common sight in the streets of 18th Century London.It was imported into Australia during the 19th Century. In Britain, its cultivation was markedly increased, along with other herbs, during the First World War for its medicinal properties. Today, it is still widely grown for its oil, its scent and its use as a valuable hedging and border plant in the garden.General Description
Lavender is an aromatic shrubby perennial with erect or spreading branches and variable size, leaves and flowering spikes, according to the particular type, as well as its location, soil type, weather conditions and climate. Generally, the width of the plant is 1 to 1.5 times the height of the plant. For ease of description, it is worth consulting the photo below from page 17 of The Essential Lavender: Growing Lavender in Australia by Virginia McNaughton 1996.Leaves: Have revolute (curled back) margins and are arranged in opposite pairs along the branches. They vary in shape from linear-oblong or spatulate to oblong lanceolate and their margins are simple and entire or dentate, pinnate or bipinnate. The leaves below have dentate, revolute margins.Inflorescences: Flower spikes are terminal, at the end of short or long peduncles (flowering stems) and are composed of individual flowers, arranged in a whorled fashion along the stem. The terminal flowers open last. They have bracts (modified leaf at the base of the flowers) and/ or bracteoles (small bract borne above the bract and below the calyx (outer petals), according to the type. The scent also varies from the sweet true lavender fragrance of Lavandula angustifolia to the more camphoraceous scent of the Stoechas group (especially L. viridis) and Lavandula latifolia.
Large petal-like sterile bracts (see photo below) on the top of the spike (rabbit’s ears); no bracteoles; and fertle bracts on the rest of the spike. They flower most of the year with short intermittent breaks (eg Christmas) and prefer warmer areas. They are more frost-tender than the Spica group (though can still survive mild frosts), but more tolerant of humidity, though no lavender grows well in areas of high humidity or heavy rain. They are also very tolerant of soil type and have actually been declared a noxious weed in Tasmania and rural Victoria.Species: L. stoechas (Italian and Spanish); L. dentata (French); and L. viridis (Green).
Has a number of subspecies:
Lavandula stoechas ssp stoechas: Italian; Mediterranean and North Africa; Dark violet, though there is a white form. 70cm bush to 1m tall in flower. Short peduncles (1-3 cm) and grey green leaves. Hardy and withstands mild frosts.
Lavandula stoechas ssp pedunculata: Spanish/ Butterfly; Portugal and Spain, North Africa, South Balkans and Asia Minor; Longer greener leaves, sterile bracts and peduncles (10-20 cm); 60 cm sprawling bush to 90 cm in flower; Rounder reddish-violet spikes; Less hardy and needs frost protection.
Other less common subspecies include: L. stoechas ssp cariensis; L. stoechas ssp sampaiana; and L. stoechas ssp luisieri.There are also a large number of Stoechas cultivars, resulting from crosses between the subspecies, especially L. stoechas ssp pedunculata (Sugarberry Ruffles; Princess and Sensation). I am only describing the varieties in my garden, with a nod to future desires or more famous varieties.
They include, in order of height:
Sugarberry Ruffles 50-70 cm; Soft pink sterile bracts.Princess: 70 cm; Pink sterile bracts; Flowers late Winter to early Summer. Avonview: 80 cm tall and long peduncles with large purple sterile bracts; Floral arrangements. Sensation (Senblu): 1 m; Blue sterile bracts;Other cultivars that I would love to get in the future include: Pastel Dreams (60-80 cm; Lilac pink); Helmsdale (80 cm; Burgundy purple); Marshwood (80cm-1m; Reddish-violet); and Pippa (1m; Electric dark blue).
Lavandula dentata (French Lavender)
Also known as Toothed Lavender, due to the dentate margins of the grey-green leaves. This large shrub, 1 to 1.5 metres tall, hails from France, Spain, Italy and Greece; the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands; Arabia, Algeria and Abyssinia.
It has long peduncles and 2.5 to 5 cm lavender-purple flowering spikes for most of the year. L. dentata ssp candicans has greyer soft hairy leaves and darker flower spikes. Cultivars include: Ploughman Blue; Allwood; and Monet.
It prefers warmer climates and is not frost hardy, requiring protection in cooler areas. The plant makes a good hedge or topiary specimen and the flowers are used in floral arrangements (tussie-mussies), wreaths and pot pourri.
Lavandula viridis (Green Lavender)
Hailing from South-West Spain, Southern Portugal and Madeira, this 1 metre tall bush has green sticky foliage and stems, covered in dense short green hairs; greenish-cream sterile bracts and has the strongest camphoraceous fragrance of the Stoechas group. While it survives mild frosts, I probably won’t be racing out to buy this one!!!Spica Group (English Lavenders and Lavandins)
Have no sterile bracts at the top of the flowering spike, entire hairy grey lanceolate/ oblong or linear leaves and a sweet lavender fragrance. They prefer limestone areas; light well-drained soil and warm rocky slopes and dislike areas of high humidity, so are difficult to grow in Queensland. However, they grow well here! See the photo above!
Species: L. angustifolia; L. latifolia; and L. lanata
Lavandula angustifolia ( syn. L. vera; L. spica and L. officinalis) True Lavender
Lavandula angustifolia ssp angustifolia: Western Mediterranean; 60 cm to 80cm in flower; fragrant flower spikes 3 to 7 cm long; One of earliest lavenders to flower (late November in Australia); Makes a small to medium hedge. Good for lavender bags; toiletries; pot pourri; culinary recipes and floral decorations; and lavender oil, though the lavandins yield more flowers.
Lavandula angustifolia ssp pyrenaica: Pyrenees and Northern Spain; Rare in Australia; Bracts very wide and as long as calyces (outer petals): 6-7 mm long; and hair confined to veins.
Have small to medium single unbranched peduncles and flowering spikes from lavender and violet to pink and white simultaneously or 2 to 3 weeks later than L. angustifolia. They include:
Lavender/ Violet: Munstead (45-60 cm dwarf, so good for knot gardens); Twickel Purple (60-90 cm);
Dark Violet: Hidcote (70 cm); Nana Atropurpurea (40-60 cm); Blue Mountain (60 cm, greyer foliage);
Pink: Rosea (40 -60 cm; very green foliage; early flowering; mauve pink);
White: Alba (40-60 cm; grey green linear leaves; sweet scent.
Lavandula latifolia (L. spica) Spike Lavender
Western Mediterranean and Portugal; Rare in nurseries; 50 cm high bush, whose broad oblong to lanceolate leaves are a more greyish-green and have a denser coverage of hairs than L. angustifolia. Flower spikes have long slender peduncles, up to 45 cm long or more, which frequently branch into three and have a camphoraceous smell . It was used to produce Oil of Aspic. They flower up to 3 months later than L. angustifolia (February in Australia) and can be difficult to grow and have a shorter lifespan here, so it is wise to keep some young stock in reserve. They are not frost hardy and hate cold poorly-drained soil. They can get woody at the base and along the stems.Lavandula x intermedia cultivars (Lavandins)
A cross between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia, these 1 metre tall shrubs flower 3 to 4 weeks later than L. angustifolia and have broader leaves and large flower spikes with a paler colour and a more camphoraceous smell. They are sterile, so must be propagated from cuttings and are used for cut flowers and the commercial production of lavender oil. They include:
Lavender/ Violet/ Purple:
Grosso (Masses of violet blooms late December to Autumn; Leading world producer of Lavender oil);
Seal (80 cm-1m ; Over 1000 spikes in one season and retain scent well when dried; Lavender bags);
Super (Over 1m and similar to Seal, but different shape and size; One of first lavandins to flower, continuously blooming over long period and one of the sweetest scents of all lavandins)
Alba (60-70 cm tall with 30 cm long peduncles; white corollas with grey-green calyces; sweet scent. This is the white lavender most commonly sold in nurseries.)
Grey Hedge (1m silver hedge);
Old English (over 1m and similar spikes to Seal)Intersectional Crosses:
Lavandula x allardii Mitcham Lavender : A cross between L. dentata and L. latifolia, this hybrid is over 1 metre tall and wide, has grey semi-toothed leaves and long flower spikes like Spica lavenders on long peduncles with a scent, the blend of lavender and camphoraceous.
The flowers stems can be dried for floral arrangements, but tend to droop. I suspect the lavender in the two photos above and the three photos below, grown from a cutting, could be Mitcham Lavender as it has leaves with dentate margins like L. dentata, but a flower spike on a very long branched peduncle like L. latifolia. The plant is also similar to the latter with its tendency to woody stems as the plants age.
Lavandula x heterophylla: Another cross between L. latifolia and L. dentata, this plant is similar to Spica group lavenders, being up to 1 metre tall with branched stems. It also has a sweet camphoraceous scent .Lavandula lanata Woolly Lavender
Native to the mountains of Southern Spain, this shrub, 1 metre high and wide, has 1.2 cm wide and 3-5 cm long, grey tomentose (woolly hairs) leaves with a soft flannel feel and 10 cm long narrow flowering spikes on long peduncles in late December. The individual flowers open gradually, providing a splash of purple along the spike and have a slight camphoraceous scent. These lavenders like dry chalky soils and sheltered positions and have a deep root system, so hate being moved. They are frost-tolerant as might be expected!
This group hails from North Africa and Mediterranean regions and has the largest number of species, three of which are available in Australia. Slightly woody at the base, they have multi-branched stems and fine feathery pinnate or bipinnate leaves and wing-like (ptero-) corollas when viewed from the side. All the bracts are fertile and there are no sterile bracts at the top of the spike. There are also no bracteoles and the flowers do not have the classic lavender fragrance. They are not very hardy and best grown against the house or a warm brick wall, protected from frost, as in our old garden in Geelong (photo below), where they thrived with the French Lavender.
Species available in Australia include: L. multifida; L. canariensis; and L. pinnata.Cultivation and Harvesting
So easy to grow, lavender really only has two requirements:
: Well-drained Soil
While they prefer lighter soils and thrive in a loamy gritty mix, they can grow in most soil types. English lavenders like alkaline soil with a pH of 6-8, while Stoechas lavenders are very tolerant and can even grow in slightly acidic soil. Lavenders hate poorly-drained heavy clay soils, so add compost or humus to the soil; dig in underwater drainage pipes or grow in rock gardens or on hillsides, where the water can run off. So, the steep bank should be perfect for them! They do not need fertilising, though a foliar spray of nitrogen in the Spring will increase the growth, the number of flowers and the stem length. Well-rotted compost will enrich the soil and act as a mulch to suppress weeds.: Full Sun for three quarters of the day at least. Stoechas and Pterostoechas lavenders prefer warmer climates and shelter from frosts, though the former can survive mild frosts and the occasional severe one. English lavenders like cool winters and warm sunny Summers. They are reasonably hardy and can withstand frost, though a late frost can damage the flower buds.Lavenders don’t like : Severe frosts; over-watering; drought; wind or humidity, which can cause root rot. There are few pests, except for spittle bug (hose, spray or pick off) and the odd assault by caterpillars or rabbits. Diseases include the Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (AMV), spread by aphids and causing yellowing of the leaves and twisting of young Spring growth; Lavender Leafspot; Bacterial Blast; and Shab, an overseas fungal disease, fortunately not found in Australia. Here is our garden in the depths of Winter (photo 1) Unfortunately, the frost killed off our French Lavenders (photo 2)!Spacing: Lavandins should be planted 1 metre apart (unless used for a hedge, in which case plants can be 50-70 cm apart), while L. angustifolia cultivars can be planted 30-70 cm apart. Make sure that enough room is available for the mature plant. While these lavenders marked the vertical axis of the Soho Bed, they really were much too large and I think the Soho Bed looks better in the second photo without these lavender plants.Pruning: Depends on the type of lavender and should be done to remove dead wood and encourage young growth from the base. These plants were very undisciplined (photo 1) and the Soho Bed looked so much better after a haircut (photo 2)! English lavenders should be trimmed hard after flowering and well before Winter to allow the new growth to harden. Once the stems become too woody and bare, the plant should be replaced. Unfortunately, none of the Mitcham Lavenders below survived the Winter. Normally, Mitcham lavender can be pruned to 15 cm from the ground, so I don’t think I pruned them too hard. Maybe, their new growth did not have time to harden before the cool weather set in or the plants had just become too old and woody! Fortunately, I had taken cuttings on pruning and was able to replace the dead plants, but I will keep them well-trimmed this time to a more appropriate size! Stoechas lavenders, which produce flowers more frequently, can be pruned during the Summer as well and can be pruned quite hard, due to their fast growth in Summer. I definitely have to deadhead this Lavender bush!Propagation: Usually done from cuttings to produce a plant, which is true to type, except for Pterostoechas, which is difficult to propagate from cuttings and is true from seed; and L. latifolia and L. lanata, which also reproduce true from seed, so long as the plants are kept separate from other lavenders. Below is a photo of one of my Mitcham lavender cuttings, which has developed into a new plant.
Cuttings, 5 to 10 cm long, can be made in Spring (tip cuttings) and Autumn (tip cuttings or heel cuttings of semi-hardwood growth), dipped in hormone rooting powder or honey, and inserted into a pot with a mixture of soil and sand; soil and perlite; pure perlite; or coarse river sand; and kept damp, but not wet, until established. They can be kept in cold frames or with bottom heat and misting, then transplanted into a larger pot or the garden, once the roots have reached the bottom of the pot.
Harvesting and Drying:
Harvest mid-morning on a dry sunny day after the dew has evaporated and watch out for bees!
Cut the heads when only the first two flowers on the spike have opened and strip off the leaves.
Hang flower spikes upside-down in bunches or dry on muslin trays in a dark room with good air circulation. They are dry when the stem breaks cleanly. A dehydrator/ microwave can be used too.Store in opaque containers in cupboards in a dry environment and avoid light or moisture. Use within the year before the colour fades and scent goes.
English Lavenders and French Lavender (L. dentata and subspecies) dry well, but the other Stoechas lavenders are more difficult to dry, because of the rabbit’s ears, though they do press well.
Uses of Lavender:
Garden Plant : Hedging, Knot Gardens and Topiary
: Paths, enclosures, knot gardens, outlining ornaments; statues; sundials and birdbaths.: Space plants half the width of the mature plant apart and keep regularly pruned, so the new growth is produced from the base. Trim at least twice a year and well before the Winter cold sets in. Both photos above and below were taken at Lavandula, Hepburn Springs, in Victoria.: French lavender makes a good topiary specimen, while good varieties for hedging include:
Lavandula angustifolia: Munstead or Blue Mountain (small to medium hedge or knot gardens); Twickel Purple (medium to large hedge); or a combination of Nana Atropurpurea; Rosea; and/or Alba;
Lavandins: Impress Purple or Grosso for a medium hedge; Grey Hedge for a hedge higher than 1 m.
Stoechas group: Italian lavender (low hedge); French Lavender (1.5 m hedge warm areas); and L. viridis.
Medicinal Properties of Lavender Essential Oil
Useful for the treatment of a wide range of conditions:
Skin conditions: Burns, bruises, wounds and leg ulcers; eczema, dermatitis and nappy rash; boils and herpes; stretchmarks; bee and wasp stings; fungal infections; acne; dry skin; and sunburn. It can be used as an insect repellent (a few drops added to olive or safflower oil) and a skin toner.
Muscle, joint and back pain : 1 part lavender oil to 6 parts massage oil for a relaxation massage.
Migraines and Headaches.
Hair: When added to shampoo, it can reduce dandruff, and in the past has been used to eliminate head lice. It has also been used to treat ear ache.
Sore throats, stubborn coughs and mouth infections: Gargle with lavender oil /honey in boiled water.
Lavender Oil is produced by steam distillation (photo below was taken at Balingup Lavender Farm, Western Australia).
Lavender Water: 4 tbsp lavender oil to 2 litres warm water: Good antiseptic cleanser;
Lavender can also be used in furniture oil and polish; in lavender bags (photo below) to protect clothes and linen from insects and moths; and can be burnt or simmered in water to induce relaxation.Culinary
Lavender vinegar can be used in salad dressings, for cleaning, to reduce bruising and as a hair rinse.
Lavender sugar can be used to flavour desserts, biscuits and cake icing;
Lavender tisane (L. angustifolia ssp angustifolia) to relieve extreme fatigue and physical exhaustion. It obviously had an uplifting effect on my husband at the Bella Lavender Estate, South Australia.Fragrance: Lavender bags, fans and bottles; scented writing paper and ink; pressed flowers; pot-pourri mixes; sleep pillows; soap and toiletries; incense and candles; tussie-mussies, wreaths and floral arrangements.Lavender has also been used in healing and purifying rituals; deterring evil spirits (Tuscany); in love potions and spells. Lavender is a symbol of love, affection and acknowledgement; cleanliness, purity and chastity; longevity and perseverance; protection; and peace. My mum embroidered this beautiful bag below for a birthday gift.
And obviously, our garden here in Candelo, once I have decided on which varieties to grow and we have established our new plantings on the bank! There are three terraces, so I will probably grow Bearded Iris at the top and bottom, with taller lavenders in the middle terrace; shorter pinks, whites and purple lavenders on the top terrace; and medium lavenders in the bottom terrace. Ross has started to clear two paths between the terraces. Placement is dictated by the frosty areas on the right looking up at the house from the garden, so English lavenders and Lavandins will be in these areas, while the Stoechas group will be further to the left, where there is more shelter and protection from the frost. Here is a view from the top lawn, showing the area damaged by frost. I will finish with a sea of lavender from our visit to Lavandula, Hepburn Springs.Next week, I will be introducing you to Bithry Inlet, one of our favourite spots to visit in Summer!
Today, we are continuing with my post on Books about Colour, Design and Inspiration, with a review of some favourite children’s art and fantasy books; excellent books on using library resources and fun exercises to motivate and inspire; and stories about other craftspeople and their studios, finishing with some valuable practical books on running a craft business and art teaching.
The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt 1999/2009;
I love these little books. Aimed at young children, they are packed with lots of wonderful ideas, which can be used to inspire adults as well! The Usborne Book of Art Ideas describes a wide variety of art materials (paper, paint, ink, pastels, wax crayons, pens, brushes and palettes) and techniques with pages on: mixing colours, density of paint application, colour theory, perspective, printing patterns, masking out, patterns and dots, glue pictures, elastic band prints, hand and cardboard prints, blow paintings, brush and ink work, watercolour painting, chalk and pastel techniques, wax resist rubbings and making cards and frames.
The Usborne Book of Art Projects by Fiona Watt 2003/2008;
This small sequel covers a variety of art projects from tissue paper windows; texturing paper; paper mosaic tins; paper weaving ; frames; and collaged cards and book covers to dangling bead shapes, foil fish; 3-D cityscapes; scratching paint; doodling; embossed circles and printing techniques.
Creative Art Crafts by Pedro de Lemos
: Book 2: Cardboard, Wood, Cloth and Metal 1945 and
Book 3: Weaving, Raffia Basketry, Textile Arts, Plastics, Jewelry Designs, Pottery Crafts, Cement Art Crafts, Sculpture, Puppetry, Masks, Stagecraft, Marionettes, Costuming, Pageantry, and Sandtable Projects 1948;
I rescued these two delightful old-fashioned volumes from the bin and wished I’d found the first volume as well (Book 1: Paper Craft, Toy Craft, Relief Craft)!
I loved the quote by John Erskine in the forewood on Page 2 of Volume 2:
‘The joy of creation is always greater than the undoubted pleasure of looking on. The sad fact is that the vast majority of mankind are onlookers, only the rare few are doers, but those who have the most fun will be those who do rather than merely look on’.
After a brief introduction to Cardboard and Wood Craft, Pedro suggest many projects using these mediums, including: Paper Sculpture; Corrugated Paper Craft; Cardboard Houses, Boxes, Nativity Scenes and Letter Portfolios (which really defines the age of this book!); Papier Mâché; Stained Glass Designs; Action Animals, Toys and Figurines; Nesting Boxes; Whittling; Wooden Boxes; Chip Carving; Gesso Craft; Marquetry; and Wood Batik.
The section on Cloth and Textiles has a similar approach- an introduction to various techniques, followed by more detailed instruction and projects, including: Wax Crayon Decoration; Cloth Stencilling; Silk Screen; Designing Monograms; Printing Cloth with Textile Blocks; Potato Prints; Batik; Shibori; Solar Printing; and Hand Embroidery.
Metal crafts include: Repoussé; Stamping and Working Metal; Tin Can Craft; Sheet Metal Sculpture; Copper Craft; Metal Etching; Plant Holders; Wirework; and Iron Craft.
There are more wonderful sentiments about the integration of arts and crafts in the forewood to the third volume (Page 2- see photo below). This book covers even more crafts: Weaving using Cardboard, Box and Hand Looms; Raffia Work and Rug Hooking; Basketry and Rush Work; Jewellery Making; Pottery; Glass and Plastic Sculpture; Colour Cement Tile Work; Puppetry; Shadow Play; and Mask Making; Costumery and Set Design.
While written for art educators and therapists, these volumes with their clear presentation, using simple black-and-white photographs (with the odd colour plate) rather than complex text, mean that they can be used by anyone, regardless of age, language and technical ability and serve to provide plenty of inspiration rather than in-depth instruction!
An Alphabet of Animals by Isabelle Brent 1993;
A beautiful book with 26 stunning animal portraits from A to Z.
Isabelle’s paintings are full of brilliant colour; patterned and colourful borders and backgrounds; and gold leaf, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The text highlights the special unique properties of each animal. It is a truly beautiful publication, whose subject matter and presentation cannot but inspire future artistic endeavours.
I love the imagination and illustrations of the following books! They are all fantastic spurs to creativity and artistic inspiration!
Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black 2005;
In this comprehensive field guide, ‘Arthur Spiderwick’ describes the creatures of the invisible world (complete with scientific nomenclature), only accessible to those gifted with ‘the Sight’, and categorises them according to their home environment:
Around the House and Yard: the helpful Brownies and troublesome Boggarts, mysterious Changelings and light-fingered Pixies; and the fiery Salamanders and Stray Sods;
In Fields and Forests: the fatal Cockatrices; capricious elves, diligent leprechauns; man-eating Manticores; nebulous Sprites; magical Treefolk and curative Unicorns;
In Lakes, Streams and the Sea: Wailing Kelpies, curious Merfolk, musical Nixies, massive Sea Serpents and constantly hungry Trolls of the waterways;
In the Hills and Mountains: From diminutive Dwarves to Giants and Ogres, Goblins and Hobgoblins and even Deep Cavern Knockers;
In the Sky: The fearsome dragons, regal griffins, glorious regenerative phoenix; and
Outside at Night: The nocturnal Banshees, frozen Gargoyles, roguish Phookas and luminous Will-o’-the-Wisps.
I love the notated illustrations of the mythical creatures and watercolour paintings of their environment throughout this book, as well as the ‘scientific’ approach to their study, reminiscent of natural history books of the early 1900s.
The Goblins of Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Terry Jones 1986/ 2006;
This is a similarly fanciful and imaginative tome, based on the ‘archaeological discovery’ by Brian Froud, in an unspecified remote corner of Olduvai Gorge, Northern Tanzania, of a 60 Million year old earthenware pot with runic inscriptions on the underside edge of the rim, which in turn led him to a further discovery of 43 notebooks about ancient goblins. Their huge diversity; descriptions and images; and peculiarities and habits are documented in this amazingly creative book! I love the imagination and great sense of fun in this book!
Dr Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons edited by Dugald A Steer 2003;
I also plan to make a dragon one day! Similar in style to the last two books, this book is based on the scientific study of ‘dragonologist’, Dr Ernest Drake.
His authenticity and credibility is backed up with supporting evidence in the front of the book like his library card and a letter in an envelope addressed to the reader, as well as spells to catch a dragon. This comprehensive description of everything to do with dragons (Locations; Species; Natural History; Life Cycle; Behaviour; Finding, Tracking and Working with Dragons; Scientific study; Dragon script; Useful spells and charms; and history) includes: World maps; Samples of skin, wing membrane and dragon dust; Pop-out diagrams; Personal record books; Secret envelopes; and Riddles and puzzles. Another highly imaginative and creative book!
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson 2013
Based on medieval bestiaries, this paperback focuses on amazing unique creatures, which actually exist and still survive in our modern world, two thirds of which are marine.
Alphabetically ordered, they range from critically endangered Axolotls (a type of salamander) to Zebra Fish, the populous darlings of scientific study due to the speed of the development of their embryos. This book highlights the wonder and miracle of our natural world, despite the devastating impacts of humans! It was also highly informative! While I learned so much more about the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and the Nautilus, I knew nothing about Sea Butterflies or Goblin Sharks or even Xenoglaux, the Long-Whiskered Owlet!
The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols by Jack Tresidder 1997;
Traditional symbols have served as a visual shorthand for artists and craftspeople to express their beliefs and ideas about human life for thousands of years, predating writing and representing universal fundamental concepts in many primitive societies and cultures.
This book contains 1000 symbols from myth, literature and art, from a range of cultures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and are arranged in alphabetical order. It is a valuable starting point for artistic inspiration, as well as a fascinating element of mankind’s history!
The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit by Barbara R. Call 2009;
This book is jam-packed with inspirational ideas to break the crafter’s block!
This scanned page (page 9) shows the way it is organized:There are just so many ideas, that really you have to read the book yourself. Some of the ideas, which resonated with me, included: Wordless Journalling (Day 15); Miniature Collaging (Day 17); Women’s 7 Senses (Day 50); Going Back in Time (Day 67); the Scamper concept (Day 167-168; Page 144 – see photo below); and Gratitude Journal (Day 359).
I would love to try making air-drying clay rubber stamps (Day 6 and 7); House journals (Day 29); Altered Books (p 51); Sisterly Creations (Day 62-63); Finding Your Animal Totem (p82) and Write For 100 Years from Now (p113); Happy Birthday (Day 221; Page 187; Sun Printing (Day 234; Waxed Paper Batik; Tiny Tin Treasure Troves (Day 310) and Paper-Aging Techniques (Day 346). There are also a number of artist interviews throughout the book.
Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects;
I love this book, which I bought (ironically!) when I was working for the Digital Repository of the Deakin University Library. It was right during the time period, when the library was converting from a storehouse of books with lots of bookshelves, which were discarded, to a digitally dominated learning space with comfortable lounges and discussion areas!Books have always been a constant source of inspiration for me, but the advent of the internet means increased accessibility to a wide range of libraries and library collections:
State and neighbourhood branch libraries for borrowing out hard copies, as well as magazines and videos;
University libraries for students, though often borrowing access by the public can be organized for an annual fee;
Research libraries: For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 12 different libraries and study centres in New York City alone; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, is the largest library in the world, while The British Library contains many early printed books and a Historic Bindings Database. All are becoming increasingly digitized, which is a wonderful boon to artists further afield.
Special collections: Historic maps; ornamental penmanship; and early printed books and illuminated manuscripts; and now
There is a chapter on using library catalogues, Library of Congress headings and keyword searching; copyright laws and legalities; and finally, a list of some recommended library collections for specific needs: General Visual Resources; Home Economics; Craft History and Culture; Printed Ephemera; Book Arts and Bookbinding; Costume and Fashion; Arts and Design; Children’s Books; Medieval Manuscripts; Science and Technology; Maps and Cartography; Quilts; Knitting; Lettering, Penmanship and Typography; and Performing Arts and Film. I cannot recommend this book highly enough as a source of inspiration!
Also included in the book are projects inspired by the library with instructions, including: a Marbled Fabric Pouch; Decorated Papers and Watermark Pillows; Ornamental Penmanship and Cartouche Embroidery; Calligraphy and Penmanship; a Secret Message Snowflakes and Patterned Stationery Set and an Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set; a Quilled Willow Pendant and a Paper Town Garland; a Kittens Pockets Dress with Kittens and a Cyanotype Bed Throw; Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders and Japanese Heraldry Coasters; and a Wool Rose Fascinator and Felt Dogwood Blossoms for Millinery. The appendices include a stitch guide and sources for supplies.
And finally, books on other craft people and sage advice about craft businesses!
The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds edited by Anna Torborg 2006;
A very inspiring book, featuring interviews with 17 different craftswomen, who discuss their endeavours under the headings: Why I Create; Inspiration; and Workspace; with a representative project of each artist’s original designs, with photographs, patterns and detailed instructions (at the back of the book). Their crafts include: Patchwork and Quilting; Toy and Bag making; Embroidery ; Felting and Knitting; and Paper Crafts.
I particularly liked the work of toymakers: Anna Torborg, Fiona Dalton, Tania Ho and Myra Masuda and would love to try making the latter’s Elephant Pouch. Again, there is a list of sources in the back of the book.
Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space by Cate Coulacos Prato 2011;
I love reading about other artists’ and craftspeoples’ studios and gleaning useful ideas from them for my own sewing room! This book is organized into six chapters, with 6 studios in each, titled:
Chapter 1: A Room of One’s Own;
Chapter 2: Organization and Storage;
Chapter 3: Flea Market Flair;
Chapter 4: Small Space, Big Style;
Chapter 5: The Power of Light and Colour; and
Chappter 6: Make It Your Own.
There are floor plans, photographs, tips and hints; colour symbolism; discussions on lighting or open studios; and checklists for needs and storage! There were some great ideas from rods to hold ribbon spools and underseat bookcases; wire baskets to organize fabric stashes: wooden card filing cabinets and muffin tins to hold stamps or beads respectively; and clear plastic drawers for easy access.
While not all necessarily applicable, the huge diversity of studios has appeal for a wide variety of situations. I could easily set up shop in Gina Lee Kim’s studio. Merely reading this book and viewing all the wonderful art spaces is stimulation and inspiration enough for renewed vigour!
Mollie Makes: Making It: The Hard facts You Need to Start Your Own Craft Business 2014;
The title says it all! While inspiration and artistic practice are fundamentals, so too are business skills, which enable your ability to continue to follow your passion and pursue your art/ craft! Chapters, complete with expert advice from key players and fellow artists, cover:
Chapter 1: First Steps: Customer profiling; Building Your Brand and Developing a Logo; Setting up a Website; and Online Marketing;
Chapter 2: Taking the Plunge: Company Structure; Working from Home or Away; Financing Your Business; and Writing a Business Plan;
Chapter 3: Creative Conundrums: Costs and Pricing; Sourcing Raw Materials; Staying Inspired; Making Connections (Networking and Mentoring); and Protecting Your Intellectual Property;
Chapter 4: Spreading the Word: Using Social Media; PR Material; Writing a Press Release; Feature Articles; Getting Professional PR Help and Photographing Your Product;
Chapter 5: Sell, Sell, Sell: Craft fairs; Online Market Places eg Etsy; Selling from your own website, selling to shops and Opening your own shop; Running Workshops; and The Customer is King
Chapter 6:The Nitty Gritty: Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant; tax; card and online payments; Managing Cash Flow; Insurance; Consumer Law in brief; and Employing Staff. There is a list of useful websites for each chapter in the back of the book. I cannot stress how important and valuable this small book is, not just for artists and craftsmen, but for the establishment of any business. It is however particularly beneficial for creative people who, by the sheer nature of their creativity and right-brain thinking, find the business aspects and self-promotion quite daunting and challenging! I’m talking from personal experience here!!! And finally,
How to Teach Art and Craft by Trisha Goodfield 2010.
Teaching art and craft and sharing your experiences and special skills with children and adult beginners is often much more lucrative than selling the hand-crafted product, whose huge number of production hours is often not reflected in the consumer price! People will pay however for tuition and given the price per person per hour is financially affordable for an individual and a class is often made up of a number of individuals, all paying that lesson price, then it is often possible to make good money from giving lessons and workshops.
The author presents this book by posing a series of questions, along with sub-questions within the text :
What to Teach: Demonstrations and Classes; retreats and conventions; Classes based on Technique or Specific Projects;
Where to Teach: Teaching from Home; Community Groups; Craft stores; Libraries and Meeting Rooms; Adult Education; Craft Shows; Retreats and Conventions;Schools; Online; Magazines; and Outdoor Venues; as well as Council and Government Regulations; Insurance, Tax and Permits; Pricing Classes (including the cost of materials, preclass preparation; travel; and Insurance and taxes); and Promotion and Marketing (including preparing a portfolio or resume; Flyers, Brochures and Business cards; Networking and Social Media; Interviews and Follow ups; and Boundaries concerning what you are prepared to do or not do!)
Who are you teaching: Teaching Children and Adult Learners; Adult Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies; Personalities and how to manage them like the latecomers (White Rabbit), the Professor, who knows it all (!), the Diva and the Chatterbox; and Dealing with different cultural and generational attitudes, values and beliefs; and finally,
How to Teach: Learning Objectives; Planning your Introduction; Learning Strategies; Nerves; Demonstration Skills; Handouts; Reinforcement/ Feedback; Listening skills; Questions and Answers; Lesson Closure and Evaluation; Lesson Plans and Formats and Further Teacher training.
While many of these ideas are common sense and instinctive, this book is a very worthwhile and valuable summary and reminder of all aspects of teaching art and craft.
I hope this small selection has whet your appetites. Next month, I will be looking at some of my favourite Drawing and Art Books! Next week, we return to my monthly Feature Plants with a post on Lovely Lavender!
As you all know, I am a keen craftswoman with quite an eclectic range of interests from drawing, printing, paper craft and photography to a wide variety of textile crafts including knitting and crochet; felting and dyeing; embroidery; appliqué and patchwork; dressmaking; soft toy making and textile history and culture; so this year, I am concentrating on the wonderful books in my craft library, starting this month with those concerning: Colour, Design and Inspiration!
Unfortunately, because this is quite a large post, I have had to divide it into two parts. While many of my embroidery books contain chapters on colour theory, design and inspiration, the books featured in this post have been chosen for their detailed coverage of this topic.
Collins Artist’s Little Book of Colour by Simon Jennings 2007
This is a very practical guide for artists to the huge subject of colour, covering not only its history and origins, but also providing a Colour Index, a visual reference source of all the most popular artists’ colours for oils, watercolour, acrylics and gouache. The authors reviewed more than 1500 colours from 11 of the world’s leading paint manufacturers and selected 400 colours for the index, categorizing them by name, medium, pigment, hue and variety.
As can be seen in these colour charts from pages 82-82 (photos below), the same-named colour may vary in hue according to the medium and even within one medium, between different manufacturers. In the back is a guide to the main suppliers, as well as notes on pigment standards and colour terminology.
Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay 2002
A far more romantic approach and treatment of colour, this paperback is ‘packed with stories, anecdotes and adventures. A full rainbow…as vivid as the colours themselves’ according to the Express. I couldn’t have put it better myself, which is precisely why I have quoted them!!!
Victoria writes so well and shares her fascination and passion for the world of colour so easily with the reader. She scours the world for little-known facts about colour from the Neolithic ochre mines of the Luberon in France or Sienna in Tuscany, Italy to the aboriginal ochre traders from Arnhemland and the Tiwi Islands in the Top End; Alice Springs in Central Australia; the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the Campbell Ranges in Western Australia.
For example, the colours, Black and Brown, are steeped in prehistory and stories in this particular chapter range from prehistoric cave art, charcoal willow and early mascara to the history of lead pencils, including Derwent Pencils and the Pencil Museum in Keswick, Conté’s crayons and Chinese pencils; the manufacture of Egyptian and Chinese inks (the latter, also known confusingly as Indian ink) from soot, mixed with gum or resin respectively, and medieval inks from wasps nests, producing galls in oak trees; and natural dyes (again, the fading oak galls and alum; and the darker, more permanent logwood) and the dubious use of mommia brown, made from dead Egyptians!
There are so many more fascinating stories, illustrated with line drawings and a few colour plates, about the other colours: White, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet, that this book is essential reading for anyone interested in history, art and colour!
The same author has also turned her attention to the semi-precious and precious gemstones and jewels, including Amber, Jet, Pearl, Opal, Peridot, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby and Diamond (the last four being precious gemstones), with equally fascinating histories and anecdotes. Buried Treasure: Travels Through The Jewel Box by Victoria Finlay 2006 (photo above) is another terrific read!
The Natural Paint Book: A Complete Guide to Natural Paints, Recipes and Finishes by Lynn Edwards and Julia Lawless 2002
This book deals exclusively with natural paints and finishes with chapters on the story of paint; the environmental and health consequences of our choices concerning paint products; and a swag of natural paint recipes using quark (milk curd, the basis of casein paints), lime, borax, cellulose glue, linseed oil, plant dyes and tannins, beeswax, egg yolk and egg white, gum arabic, gesso, and even lager beer!
The book then details a large number of creative decorative techniques and effects, including roller fidgeting; shading; colour washing; layering; sponging; creating texture with a roller ; stippling; dragging and combing; rag rolling, frottage and bagging; stencilling; wax resist; freehand painting; glazework; oil finishes; liming with wax; distressed casein; clay, Venetian and coloured natural gypsum plasters; and frescoes.
There is a section on the art of Feng Sui; the principles of decoration (space, style and features, light and lighting, colour, materials and harmony and contrast), as well as design suggestions for interior decoration of each room of the home. This is a very useful book for artists wanting to make their own paints, as well as people wishing to use natural paints in their homes.
While many of my books on embroidery, knitting and appliqué have separate chapters on the principles and elements of design, I have always loved the following book:
The Textile Design Book: Understanding and Creating Patterns Using Texture, Shape and Colour by Karin Jerstorp and Eva Köhlmark 1988;
I have always loved this practical and inspiring book! While specifically written for textile designers, its exercises with sketching unconventional and natural materials; colour; texture; patterns (including stripes, squares, borders and stylised decorations) and design simplification are pertinent to any design medium from painting to collage; fabric and clothing design and dyeing; knitting and weaving; embroidery, patchwork and applique; pottery and jewellery, glass and paper craft; and even interior design and architecture.
Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting by Alice Starmore 1992/ 2011
While specifically written for knitters, I found all the charts in this book very applicable for cross-stitch (and weaving) as well.
There are traditional (Norway, Sweden and Finland; Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania; Russia; and South America) and adapted patterns from textiles and other arts like Japanese porcelain and Celtic Metalwork (Celtic; Greece; the Caucasus; Middle East and Far East) and Alice’s original, topical geometric and nature-inspired patterns covering: Birds and Flowers; Sea and Shoreline; and The Inner Landscape.
Allover patterns; single motifs; and vertical panels and horizontal borders are included for each section and there are practical instructions for incorporating all these into unique designs. The book starts with a section on Designing Patterned Sweaters and finishes with a A Word on Colour. This is an excellent source book for all craftspeople interested in design.
Sources for inspiration are infinite and only limited by your imagination! Where you find your inspiration is really determined by your art practice, as well as your interests. For example, I really enjoy hand embroidery, so some of my sources listed below include books involving line and repetition of pattern, as embroidery is really drawing with thread. For example, books on Mehndi (Henna Art), Celtic Artwork, Pen Illustrations, Zentangles and Mandalas. I also find tattoo art and the abstract patterning of linoprinting inspirational. My interest in toymaking is inspired and informed by books about fantastical creatures, medieval bestiaries, symbolism and children’s novels. My interest in gardening, nature, birds, archaeology and history; and reading, many books of which I have already described in previous book posts, also inspires my work and let’s not forget that modern-day marvel, the internet, including Pinterest, which encompasses information and inspiring ideas from all over the world and over many different time periods. Here is a brief selection of some of the books in my library, which I have found useful, but first, a final word:As with the previous book, cross-fertilisation of ideas from a number of different art and craft practices is very beneficial. For example, I have two tiny Paper Salon Catalogues, (photo above and below) which illustrate the various patterns of rubber stamps, available for purchase and used to decorate stationery, greeting cards, envelopes and invitations. While excellent for advertising, I also have found them to be a wonderful source of ideas for embroidery patterns, and while the patterns are obviously trademarks of paper salon, the designs can be tweaked for originality and will often be thus anyway with the different type of medium and techniques. Here is a sample page, page 7 of the pink book: which I used for my French cushion design, a gift for my neighbour’s 60th French-themed birthday!Nature
Another useful pattern book, complete with a downloadable CD, is: 5000 Flower and Plant Motifs by Graham Leslie McCallum 2011, which includes designs from different geographical areas, historical time periods and artistic styles (Mesopotamian; Egyptian; Greek; Romanesque Byzantine; Medieval; Islamic; Chinese; Japanese; Folk; Art Nouveau and Art Deco) and subject areas: Flowers and Leaves; Fruit and Vegetables; Nuts, Seeds and Cereals; and Trees. The designs can be copied, enlarged, traced or developed further for creative use in any field from embroidery to ceramics, woodwork and metal work. There are also a number of border patterns and an index in the back.
This book is an excellent source for inspiration, especially if you are a keen gardener as well! From this book, it’s a short hop to combining those patterns with the following book:
2000 pattern Combinations: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Pattern: For Graphic, Textile and Craft Designers by Jane Callender 2011
Slightly more complex, this book discusses a huge variety of technical aspects: Tiles, Tessellations and Grids; Basic Geometric Shapes and their Positioning; Bold Geometric Designs; Colour Theory; Symmetry; Varying Scale, Tonal Contrasts and Building up Colour; Borders and Corners; The Use of Diagonals and Checks; Abstraction; Disguising the Repeat and Hiding the Motif; Backgrounds; Emphasing Line; Overlaying Colour and Playing with Tone; Shadowing; Shibori; Dots and Splodges; Links; and Damask Patterns.
Art Forms in Nature by Ernest Haekel 1904/ 2014;
Ernest Haeckel (1834-1919 )is a favourite of mine for his meticulous and other-worldly illustrations of life’s miracles.While the book begins with chapters on his professional life and his devotion to art and science, as well as instructions for viewing his pictures, and finishes with biographical notes and a list of plates, the majority of the book is devoted to Haeckel’s amazing artworks, reproduced on 100 black-and-white and colour plates, which inspire a sense of wonder and an appreciation of the beauty of nature and all its inhabitants.
The Mandala Book: Patterns of the Universe by Lori Bailey Cunningham 2010
This is a fascinating book, which explores universal patterns and geometric forms in nature: circles and radials; dyads; triangles and squares; pentagoms and hexagons; and patterns including branching, cycles, waves and fractals. Its explanations are based on the concept of the mandala, which is defined as ‘an integrated structure around a unifying centre’( page 6), a symbol of unity and wholeness in many religions, and an expression of life itself.
There are some wonderful photographs and images in this book, which really get you thinking and inspire a myriad of possibilities for the next artwork! The book finishes with a selection of mandalas to colour in.
The Celtic Art Source Book by Courtney Davis 1988
The Celts were masters of symbolism and decorative stone and metal carving and knotwork. Like the Islamic faith today, copying or portrayal of the works of the creator (plant, animal, fish, reptile, bird, mammal and man) was forbidden, so the artistic representation of natural creatures is highly stylised and abstracted, with body parts intertwined in intricate patterns.
I love the abstract patterns, the spirals and clever interlacings and the symbolism and mythology behind their artwork. This book describes key patterns and knotwork designs, like the Thread of Life, the Sacred Dance and the Celtic Cross, as well as spirals, the cosmic symbol; zoomorphic ornamentation and Celtic myths and legends.
Throughout the book are wonderful black-and-white and colour illustrations of their artwork, including borders and calligraphy.
The Art of Mehndi by Sumatra Batra 1999
There are some wonderful symbolic designs and patterns employed in the art of mehndi or henna body painting, which has been practised for over 5000 years in India, North Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East. Spanning many different countries and religions, it encompasses a wide variety of styles from the fine floral and paisley Indian patterns, the larger floral Arabic motifs drawn on hands and feet, and the bold geometric shapes of African designs. This book describes the history, use and customs and symbolic meanings in each area, including its use in the contemporary Western world, as well as giving practical advice about its manufacture, application and techniques.
However, the best part of this book are the patterns themselves: the individual motifs; spirals and vines and designs for fingers; wrist cuffs, armbands and anklets; hands and feet; necklaces and chokers; and even designs for the back! It includes a list of resources in the back. Not only is it a much more acceptable (in my mind anyway!) and less permanent and damaging alternative to tattoo art, but like the latter provides much inspiration for other art forms involving line work like hand embroidery and graphic art.
I loved the images in this book and could easily wear them in an appropriate situation, especially if I was younger! Maybe, I am a closet tattoo wearer after all, but I still prefer the monochromatic nature of henna art- to my mind, it is far more elegant, understated and visually appealing then the multi-coloured mishmash of contemporary tattoos!
One Zentangle a Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration and Fun by Beckah Krahula 2012
Another way to get the creative juices flowing is Zentangle Art. A more sophisticated and contemporary form of doodling, this meditational art form is also often monochromatic in nature, but can also involve colour. Zentangles are defined as ‘miniature abstract works of art, created from a collection of nonrepresentational patterns on a 8.9 cm square piece of paper called a tile’ (Page 13).
The Zentangle process is described on page 25:
It is unplanned, limitless and judgement-free, as there are never mistakes, only a constant unfolding of surprises. Below is my free-form zentangle:
Materials can include thick art paper zentangle tiles (Tiepolo) and sketch pads, drawing pencils (2H and 2B) and white pastel pencils; black pigma micron pens (sizes 005, 01 and 05), Sakura gel pens, watercolours, gelatos (opaque paint sticks), Inktense colored pencils and water-soluble oil pastels, copic sketch markers, Pentel colour brush sets, an ampersand clayboard, plexiglass, gum Arabic and a protractor, although zentangles can really be drawn with anything on anything! Here is my Zentangle Tortoise:This book progresses over a six week period with daily practice with chapters on the basics; tangles and value patterns;and geometric and organic patterns; to understanding and using colour; defining and using style; paper batik and zendalas; and techniques for monoprinting, creating ensembles, painting fabric and using resin, and the use of calligraphy and folk patterns, as well as providing an inspiration gallery in the back. My daughter Jenny is a very accomplished Zentangler, as can be seen on the cover of her CD of original songs.Children’s books, art books, in fact any books, are wonderful sources of inspiration and are the subject of my next post next week. Until then… Happy Dreaming!
Last June, we had a wonderful day out, exploring the Murrah River and Murrah Lagoon by canoe. We had long wanted to visit this area, as there is nothing more alluring than places, which are difficult to access. In our first two years in Candelo, there was a problem with the access road via Goalen Head, so a visit to Murrah Lagoon entailed a 2.2 km long walk via the beach, north from Goalen Head and back, which really required a full day outing….unless you had a canoe!!
Having recently initiated our canoe locally with a paddle down Back Lake, Merimbula, we were ready and raring to go!! Here is a closeup photograph of Murrah Lagoon and Murrah River from our map.But first, a little factual information about the Murrah River! The Murrah River drains an area of 195 square kilometres of the South Coast of New South Wales, just north of the Bega Valley. The upper catchment consists of two creeks: Dry River and Katchencarry Creek, which drain from the steep headwaters of the escarpment, meet at Quaama to form the Murrah River, which then progresses 5 km downstream to join Pipeclay Creek, a tributary from the north, which drains the rounded foothills. The Murrah River then flows 12 km through the bedrock-confined valley and state forest to the lowland plains, where the valley widens and the river comes under a tidal influence.We dropped the canoe in at the bridge crossing on the Tathra-Bermagui Road, 10 km south of Bermagui at low tide, wading and dragging the canoe for the first stretch of very shallow water, past river regeneration work, with huge wooden pylons shoreing up eroded river banks, to a huge gum on the bend of the river, where we joined the main part of the river.It was a beautiful paddle down the river, past Striated Herons and Great Egrets, to the lagoon with its perfect reflections, and mouth of the Murrah River, where it meets the ocean, the Murrah Headland and Murrah Beach. We walked across to the beach to join this lucky Pied Oyster-Catcher and looked north to Murrah Head, and south, past farming properties, to the giant black boulders of Goalen Head. The water was so crystal clear and and a deep deep green. We dragged our canoe up onto a tiny sandy cove.Tucked in behind the headland, on a sheltered slope, right on the river mouth, is Thubbul, the holiday home of well-known architect, Philip Cox, and his partner, journalist Janet Hawley. Philip bought the property 45 years ago and built a series of pavilions (detached contemporary bungalows), connected by a central walkway and surrounded by an English style garden, within a spotted gum forest with an under-storey of macrozamias. Other native vegetation includes: Yellow box, ironbark and swamp mahogany; banksias, casuarinas and westringeas; and a variety of heath, reeds and grasses. The low buildings and garden blend so well into the landscape that they are in fact very private and have a low impact on the natural environment.For more information, please see: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/01/31/3680300.htm or read A Place on the Coast by Philip Cox and Janet Hawley 1997. See: https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/isbn/0186430337/.
It is such a lovely position for a beach holiday home. Keeping to the beach, we skirted the edge of the rocky platforms to eat lunch out on the headland. In the first photo below, we are north of Murrah Headland, looking back to Thubbul. We looked north to the water tank and tall pines on the headland at Bermagui in the distance; back over the beautiful Murrah Lagoon, and south to Goalen Head. The geology on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is so impressive and I love the native westringa! What a wonderful place to spend your holidays!!Soon, it was time to return, so we headed back in the canoe, passing a long-time free camping site behind the beach, and negotiating the various channels back to the bridge. It only took one hour and we were very fortunate in that the tide was coming in, so there was no wading at the end.We decided to explore a little up the river beyond the bridge, past river oaks and grasses, where we saw Pied Cormorants, Chestnut Teals and Black-Fronted Dotterels!On our return to the bridge, we had stopped midstream to chat to a man in a kayak, who had been camping at the free campsite on the lagoon. He told us a bit about the area and informed us that the Goalen Head access to Murrah Beach (via Hergenhans Road off the Tathra-Bermagui Rd) was now open, so we drove down there on our way south: past beautiful coral trees (Erythrina) to the end of the road and the southern end of Murrah Beach, where a cheeky Yellow Robin greeted us. I loved these photos of the grass seedheads and the lichen-covered rocks and black boulders of Goalen Head to the south in the golden late afternoon light.It is so good to know that we can now walk up the beach to the headland, though we will always remember our beautiful canoe trip down the Murrah River!