Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I Forgot the Food Packaging

Whilst eating a fabulous Itsu Sushi takeaway on Thursday Night, I was busy writing down a list of all the plants I was munching on (Rice, Sesame seed, Soya, Corriander, Ginger, Rocket, Pumpkin Seeds etc.) and then I moved onto the cardboard box, which I presumed at the time to have some sort of wood in it. Then I wrote down "one serviette" and "one till receipt" (with measurements) for the same reason. Then Henry and I caught the tube home and that was that...

Until today.

Today something hit me which I had failed to note on whilst sitting on a bar stool in Itsu, but has since been simmering in my subconscious. I was peeling a label off of a tin during my lunch break to put in my sketchbook. Since starting The Bare Necessities Project I have recently began to collect packaging. I have been doing this for several reasons, firstly they remind me of what I ate if I forget a day, secondly they list all of the ingredients in something ready made or provide me with the company name so I can find out the ingredients and lastly I just love packaging - sometimes they have amazing visuals.

Ketchup label - essential for telling me the ingredients...

So yes... I was peeling off a Heinz Baked Beans label and I suddenly thought "this is paper... I need to make a note of the paper (wood)... Hang on a minute! I haven't made a record of any packing, the only time was in Itsu!". Alas - I forgot the food packaging...

I find some food labels really striking. I particularly like Sun Maid Raisins

 Wooden box used for Turkish Delight

 As of May I am going to start to make a real effort with the packaging, but firstly I need to do some research into what is plant based and what isn't. Frighteningly (for me) I have just discovered that a lot of plastic is now made out of plants (usually Sugarcane, Corn, Potato, Banana or Tapioca). 

I can't tell if this is going to be a complete nightmare or not!

Further Reading:!/

Sunday, 15 April 2012

My New Brooch 

 I made this with the intention of wearing it to the preview of the SBA's 2012 exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster. Just got to find an outfit to pin it to.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Bare Necessities

So, after considerable about of time I am feeling like I am almost ready to announce the gist of what I want to do next. I want to do a series of very, very large paintings illustrating all of the plants I have used or consumed in a year. This includes food and drink, fabrics, any new furniture, paper, cosmetics, dyes, pharmaceuticals, bunches of flowers and cleaning products. I also plan to illustrate them to scale, but the scale is that of 'the amount consumed'. So my Wheat Grass will be very tall, but my Walnut Tree might be small.

This is going to take a long time.

This is my way of using art for conservation and getting everyone in the world together in a big project (it will go further than me). The idea began after seeing deforestation in Bali, and with the help of reading Information is Beautiful by David McCandless (blog) and seeing Rachel Pedder Smith's huge Herbarium Specimen Painting, the idea grew. I have always wanted to do something like this. I am still tackling with how to compose it, but I probably will aim for something where all the plants are upright (like below). Possibly arranged alphabetically, rather than taxonomically, as I want the arrangement to be broken up, representing how we consume things inconsistently. I had thought about calender months and geographical regions, but I hope to make some other graphic which conveys the information in this way as it's too tricky and repetitive to paint.
Book cover illustration - Onions and other vegetable alliums

So, I started at the Spring Equinox and so far, amongst a lot of things, I have learnt what is in my soap, successfully extracted the quantities of ingredients used in Tesco houmous and discovered that six species of Saccharum is used in sugar. I have yet to find out what made my new pair of Clark's sandals and Johnson and Johnson haven't told me what is in my toothpaste.

Obviously, most of the plants in my painting will be food crops (and paper). At this point in time I will only be getting a snapshot of my diet, but I'd like to stretch it out to diets and lifestyles across the globe later on. This blogpost looks at diets across the globe more closely using photography. Fascinatingly, of more than 50,000 edible plant species in the world, only a few hundred contribute significantly to human food supplies. Just 15 crop plants provide 90 percent of the world's food intake, with rice, maize and wheat comprising two-thirds of human consumption. So as I thought, my grasses will be big, and my tree's might be small. Currently I have a small problem with weight - with or without water - which I have got to tackle.

 Food consumption, pounds/person in 2006

 Production of top ten crops of the world 

So, my blog posts will probably feature a plant from now on. I can't tackle the main painting until I have a year's worth of quantities, but I intend to do some prototypes using data online.

I hope you like the sound of this idea... I know I do. It is something I have wanted to do in a while.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Some new botanical art finds...

Tricia Newell

'Dandelion' by Tricia Newell

I love this painting by Tricia Newell, it has so much movement and colour. Tricia has a fantastic Flickr account as well as a website and I recommend having a look at both.


'Violin' by Muradino

Nice bit of botanically inspired pyrography on a violin, you can see more images here.

Paul Stone

'Babel Toppled' by Paul Stone

I don't even know how Paul tackled this subject! I tried to paint a Romanesco for my vegetable study and  gave up after feeling dizzy. These numerous spirals require a lot of concentration to get right, and if one spiral is incorrect, then they all will be. It's probably easier to do from a photograph or using tracing paper, but I rarely tend to do that sort of thing.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

by Meriel Thurstan

This new book has been written by Meriel Thurstan and is due to come out in the late summer of 2012. The publisher is Batsford. I love botanical illustration books so why I am posting this one in particular? Well, I understand that some of my work will be included this one! I am very pleased. Meriel was kind enough to ask if I had anything that could be used and so I sent over a disc of my work for her to look at. I have just found out that three of my pieces have been chosen for it. I wish I could see some proofs - me being pernickety I worry about the overall quality of the print as they are using my dodgy photographs, but all of Meriel's other books are so beautifully done I really ought not to worry. I am sure it will be another excellent book, even if I do say so myself!