Understanding Painting Media – Niki Gibbs

Open College of the Arts

This blog is my log of documenting my journey through this module of my Open College of Arts course, starting with a montage of paintings of found images that are pertinent to me right now.


Reflection: Having completed Understanding Media course

• Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

Looking back through this course I can appreciate the diverse range of media, media and techniques that I have explored; from simple watercolour sketches, using nail varnish and enamel paints as a painting medium, through textural experimentation, pencil drawings, collage, monotype printing, acrylics and various different oil paints (standard, waterbased and pigment hand mixed medium). It has been enjoyable and interesting to not only work with the different mediums, but to apply the use of those mediums in a suitable way compositionally and in respect of subject matter.

Part 2 – Unusual painting mediums and surfaces

I have been very aware whilst working on each piece of the qualities of the medium and voice that each different medium conveys and can be used for. This is particularly evident during my work in part 4 when I explored the amount of plastic in our lives.

Exercises part 4 – diverse mediums and grounds

Unusual mediums and texture are useful for creating another layer of interest to the image, it can be used to enhance or emphasise a quality, or make a point within a message such as painting on plastic when discussing our overuse of plastic as an ironic statement. In assignment 2 I used my hand tool collection which is painted on a textural collage ground to convey the use of the items in preparing rough surfaces to a finished state.

Assignment 2 – Acrylic on textured, collaged ground on rag paper, A1

Watercolour suits quick sketching as well as botanical style illustrations, applied in different ways from fresh quick strokes to layered detailed work with depth.

Exercise 1 part 5 – Detailed watercolour illustration

Acrylic has been useful when I wanted to be able to layer my colours quickly allowed by acrylics quick drying time. In the example below, painting on both back and front of the transluscent plastic ground.

Part 3 – Acrylic on plastic

Oil paint I found to be the most versatile of the mediums I worked with. From Monotype printing through water based oils with their quicker drying time to diluted oil washes, impasto painting and the long drying time of the pigment self-mixed oils that allow an endless opportunity to rework as they take so long to dry but create a particularly fresh feel as a consequence of their application.

Street Detritus, disgarded PPE – Pigment self-mix oil paint

I have also explored painting on many different grounds; plastic, a wide range of papers (watercolour, rag and cartridge, brown, and coloured card), plastic, fabric, stone, metal, canvas board, and stretched canvas. I have considered carefully the appropriate medium and subject matter and ground that I use for each individual piece to give the piece maximum impact and message.

I have pushed my observational skills, and strived to broarden my visual awareness throughout this course, design and compositional skills. This was refreshing to apply to my final assignment when I depicted snapshots of my memories of Covid-19 Lock Down. By depicting memories I was able to apply a variety of abstractions, mood and stylistic approaches to a range the works in the collection.

• Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner with discernment.

As guided by the course I have taken the suggested exercises and tried to apply a personal touch or twist to my work, presenting a rounded and complete collection of works that I feel would stand for themselves beyond the coursework. I have applied my additional research directly to my work which I feel has really improved the outcome. My learning logs comprehensively detail my journey and thought processes as well as the development of the pieces themselves.

I have concentrated on particular subject matter to which I can apply my voice on all the parts of this project.

Personal Images – part 1

Part 1, I looked at a very personal range of images and interests.

Collections digital composition – Part 2

Part 2, exploring the amount of stuff we accumulate in our modern consumeristic lifestyles whilst trying out different media and grounds in my artwork, as well as composing my research into a collageed image.

Part 3, looking at the voices speaking out about climate change. Her I used the veichle of text to unify and complete the message, challenging the art of writing backwards to produce a monoprint.

Part 4, exploring the amount of plastic we have in our homes and supermarkets whilst working on unusual tondo format, and applying an element of activism to the final image.

So much plastic! – Assignment 4

Part 5, the very current experience of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects on us and our environment.

Exercise 2 Part 5 – Experiences of Covid-19 Lock Down

Technically, I feel that I have grown throughout this course, my work can have a tendency to have a graphic element about it in many cases. Especially in the final assignment 5 I have used my paint in a more diverse and sophisticate way to create a mood or feeling about the composition with mixing the paint application, limiting my colour palette, and applying abstract elements to help convey a message.

• Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Part 4 – Flowers painted with mixed media including nail varnish and displayed ironically in a plastic bag.

It has been important to me to apply subject matter that I feel strongly about across this course, applying the course criteria to subject matter that I feel passionately about in a creative way is a challenge in itself. I have experimented, learned from my mistakes, understood the qualities and possible applications of a wide vsriety of media. I have produced many stand alone pieces, some of which I have sold, exhibited or had had published in print. In the last two parts in particular, I have used my art to really dig into subjects that matter to me, and look forward to being able to explore this further in my next course.

• Context – Reflection, research (learning logs).

This course has been really important in improving my repetoire of skills and applying them appropriately according to the subject matter that I am depicting and the message that I want to convey. I have presented my work and my thoughts comprehensively in my learning logs. I have researched and looked at all the artists that the course has suggested that I look at, as well as, I think in greater depth than in previous courses, diversifying and expanding my research into areas relevant to the exercises that I was working on, particularly when researching activist art and the botanical drawings of Wendy Gibbs.

I have produced a large quantity of work for this course, which has felt quite epic at times, particularly during part 2 when I turned my whole house upside down in order to compile my collections and wait for suitably sunnt days to be able to photograph them in my garden! I have produced in some cases more than the course suggests as I see each project as a whole and want to complete each exercise as rounded package that I feel I have fully explored skills that I felt were being asked of me by the course.

Niki Gibbs 514895

6 September 2020

Reflection Part 5 – Understanding Painting Media

• Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

I have used this part of the course to experiment with some eco friendly Natural Earth powder pigment oil paints, This is the first time that I have mixed my own paints and realise that further use will undoubtably improve my understanding of their properties and how to use them. This will enable me to see how different mixing agents produce different effects, affect drying time and layering. My studies in this medium has taken weeks to dry!

Disgarded PPE in Natural Earth Powder Pigment Oil Paints
Disgarded PPE in Natural Earth Powder Pigment Oil Paints

This part 5 also gave me the opportunity to work in detail in watercolour and I learned many tips from my research into the botanical illustrations of Wendy Gibbs.

The Peacock Begonia by Wendy Gibbs
The Peacock Begonia by Wendy Gibbs

Working in pencil is something I a quite comfortable with and enjoyed employing them to illustrate the detail in my studies.

Covid-19 Mask with ties - Pencil Drawing
Covid-19 Mask with ties – Pencil Drawing

For my final assignment I have strived to apply a variety of painting styles and techniques to produce a colection of work that pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone. Making conscious decisions to create a certain feel rather than just creating a painting that depicts something.

Memories of Covid-19 in Lockdown
Memories of Covid-19 in Lockdown

I considered all the design and compositional aspects of my images throughly before committing them into artwork, I may only have quick visual notes in my sketchbook, but this is enough to have a clear vision in my head from which I work.

• Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner with discernment.

I have focused this whole part 5 to making all my work around the Covid-19 pandemic, I found it useful and more pertanent and exciting to have a theme to work within. It also satisfied an outlet for my current observations and rants! I enjoyed the opportunity to produce work on the subject in ways and in materials that I may not have otherwise thought to do. For instance my botanical style painting Mask in Weeds in part 1 has a strong environmental message as well as being a detailed study. I have also strived to present all the images in my learning log in a clear and professional manner and written comprehensively about my work, thinking and process.

Mask in Weeds
Mask in Weeds

• Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Assignment 5 was a real opportunity to develop my personal voice and imagination. I chose to paint memories which gave some licence to apply painterly techniques and be less literal with my representations. I think I have tended towards literal representation a lot in my past work, especially in relation to buildings, it was quite freeing to let go of this habit. I approached these paintings in a slightly different manner that I would normally, sketching and layering in diluted oil paint that I left exposed in areas rather than overpainting completely.

Muswell Hill - Sainsburys Queue in Lockdown
Muswell Hill – Sainsburys Queue in Lockdown

Including the Mask and Glove in physical for in my final collection completes the ‘Memory’ for me, showing willingness to diversify and experiment with my presentation and message.

Mask - Disgarded in Bounds Green, North London
Mask – Disgarded in Bounds Green, North London

• Context – Reflection, research (learning logs).

I was really happy to be able to unite this section in a common theme that was so current in Covid-19, The subject matter was informing me constantly on the news and through my daily life in the restrictions that we were all to live under. In relation to techniques and practice, I was especially influenced by my research into Wendy Gibbs appreciating the detailed and painstaking accuracy of her practice in Botanical Illustrating.

Covid-19 Lockdown in North London
Covid-19 Lockdown in North London

This section took me a bit longer than anticipated due to other life circumstances, but I have worked solidly throughout at a pace that I was comfortable with rather than rushing, which I feel has enabled me to produce a well rounded collection of works.

Niki Gibbs

21st August 2020

Assignment 5; Memories of Covid-19

Produce a group of paintings, drawings or other images that describe aspects of your environment. The number of images will differ depending on the nature, combination of the media and materials that the individual chooses to work with.

Memories of Covid-19 – Niki Gibbs

Covid-19 has been everpresent in our lives and my work since I started this section of the course. It seemed only fitting to use this as my inspiration for my final assignment.

These images are all snapshots of images from my memories of lockdown, mainly from as I cycled around North London for my daily exercise. The final images above are laid out to scale as I would display them as a collection. All the paintings are done in oil paint, thin layers building up to thicker layers on top refining the detail.

BBC 1 News

BBC1 News coronavirus coverage
BBC 1 News

The first significant communication about the Covid-19 pandemic was on my TV, broadcast morning, noon and night to the pay of any other news. Compositionally the TV is set at an angle to give the impression that it is being viewed inconsequentially as one passes the screen. I photographed the screen and tried to replicate the dusky blue tinge that you often get from the TV. I delibratly left off any numbers as the pandemic is ongoing and I did not want to date my painting in an ongoing situation.

BBC1 News coronavirus coverage
Work in progress – BBC1 News

I firstly painted up a number of canvasses in a variety of colours and sizes that I would appoint to one of my memories depending on how the image is engrained in my head. The BBC1 News is the smallest of the collection of paintings. I have an orange wall, so this was my base colour for this image on which I roughed out a light wash of the composition. I built it up in layers, the text and fine detail being the last. I also had to think about what I would put in the straplines, settling on highlighting just UK Deaths and Clap for Carers which was a weekly event for 10 weeks.

Muswell Hill

Social Distance queue for Sainsburys Muswell Hill.
Muswell Hill – The socially distant Sainsburys Queue

Every day that I cycled up to Muswell Hill the socially distant queue for Sainsburys went around the block in front of all the closed shops (which did not have metal shutters as the shops in Holloway had), past the only other shop that was open, the grocers, and all the way back down the high street. It did not matter what time of day, there was always a queue. Some of the people wore masks, many wearing them improperly under their chin or on their head. Older people that you might expect to be shielding under government guidelines were also queueing. As I would be cycling past the memory in my head is somewhat fish-eyed, although the road layout does bend around a corner, I wanted to emphasize this by applying some curved exaggerated perspective to the architecture. Muswell Hill is notable for its architectural features, red brick with white lintels and masonary features, and distinct windows.

Social Distance queue for Sainsburys Muswell Hill.
Work in progress – Muswell Hill – The socially distant Sainsburys Queue

It took a couple of goes for me to get a curve and perspective that I was happy with and would clearly illustrate my memory. The pavement planter was removed under artistic licence and I had captured an ambulance in one of my photographs, this was a good metaphore for the ongoing crisis. Once I had got the background pretty much as I was happy wit it, I then put in the detail of the people, the lettering and the barricade that blocked a side street and protected the people in a queue way longer that the baricades anticipated. The emphasis in this painting is the queue, so I left out the street furniture and parked cars, just hinting at a couple of shadowy vehicles in the distance of the empty roads, excluding the blaring ambulance!

I used quite a selection of brushes, mainly flat head brushes throughout these paintings, but some round headed brushes for fine detail.

No Contrails – Alexandra Palace

No Contrails - View of London from Alexandra Palace during Lockdown.
No Contrails – View of London from Alexandra Palace during Lockdown

My cycling route of 15-30km generally takes me over the hills of North London, Alexandra Palace being the last, longest and hardest hill, often we would take a breather at the top and take in the beautiful view, looking south over the City. The park was mostly empty bar a few determined joggers, some doing HIT training running up the steps, and fellow cyclists crusing the top before their prize of a fast clear ride down the other side of the hill. The weather was fine, and for the first time ever I could appreciate the natural cloud formations over London as there were no planes flying and therefore No Contrails!

No Contrails - View of London from Alexandra Palace during Lockdown.
Work in progress – No Contrails! View of London from Alexandra Palace during Lockdown

I have done some sky exercises in a previous part of my course, and tried to draw some lessons from that time. I layered washes for the sky and built the clouds up after, I envision the images to be viewed from a distance, so the impression of the swirling clouds that I wanted to create was done in a painterly way, the detail being reserved for the strip across the bottom that details the park its self. Again it was the detail of the people an the lights that brought my memory into focus!

The Bus Stop – Holloway Road

Bus Stop, Holloway Road during Lockdown
The Bus Stop – Holloway Road, London

This memory took a couple of goes to get right. My first attempt did not give the desolate impression that was in my head. I wanted to get across the fact that the small amount of working busses were designated as full due to limited capacity for social distancing, meaning waiting at the bus stop could be a long and lonely experience. Including the bus did not give me the distance that I wanted or the mood that I was trying to achieve so I started again! My second attempt I feel is much more interesting and emotive, it feels desolate, sad, lonely and wet, which is much more accurate to my memory. The other aspect of the image that was important to communicate was that all the shops were shuttered up. Holloway Road is notoriously full of take-aways and fast food, with a few beauty treatment salons thrown in, all forced to close for 3 months in lockdown.

My choice of buildings is not accurate, but a collection of examples within a 360 degree view of the area, that epitiomise my memory.

Bus Stop, Holloway Road during Lockdown
Work in Progress – The Bus Stop – Holloway Road, London

This painting was made up of many layers. I worked on all of the paintinigs at the same time in rotation, allowing them to dry somewhat before applying the next layer. The dripping diluted paint gives this memory a different feel to the others, yet the detailed areas are consistant and tie in with the series.

The Kerb

PPE litter in the Kerb, Bounds Green during Lockdown.
The Kerb – Bounds Green, London

Cycling around I was shocked and dismayed to see how much PPE, gloves and masks found their way into the street and littering the road side. In previous exercises in this part I studied the gloves and masks that I have found in the street and this assignment allowed me to do a painting that put them into context. I wanted to get the feeling that the items had been there for a while, so ensuring that small details such as some gravel, dirt and leaves were present on the items settled them into the environment more realistically. The drain was an important aspect of this composition as there is a new problem created by disgarded PPE in that where as wet-wipes used to be the main culprit in material blocking the sewers, masks and gloves are now the main offenders.

PPE litter in the Kerb, Bounds Green during Lockdown.
Work in progress – The Kerb – Bounds Green, London

This painting was also built up in layers, the tarmac in particular took many layers of colouring to get a 3 dimensional feel to the texture. I have discovered that there are many many different types of tarmac! I got quite excited by the different quality of the yellow painted lines, depending on the amount of layers of paint and traffic wear that they had suffered. I wanted a solid yet imperfect line! I think of all the memories that I have chosen to depict, this is the most memorable!

Covid-19 Hairdressers – North London

First day of re-opening for Hairdressers in North London after Lockdond restrictions were lifted.
Covid-19 Hairdressers – North London

On one cycle ride on the day that Hairdressers were allowed to re-open, a fellow cyclist and myself both had a similar reaction of adjustment to the ‘New Normal’ as we passed a hairdressers who were dressed as if in a lab adhering to new government guidelines. The memory was as this in my head, I tried to find it again by cycling the same route, but I couldn’t find it, I had to amalgamate reference from other hairdressers to fulfil my composition.

First day of re-opening for Hairdressers in North London after Lockdond restrictions were lifted.
Work in Progress – Covid-19 Hairdressers – North London

This was also my second attempt at my composition. THe first one I did was smaller and landscape, but I wanted the figures to be a particular size and framing of the white top and bottom was also important to my memory, so I redid the composition on a larger canvas. I did all these paintings on canvasses as I wanted them to be able to be hung freely on a wall without a frame to help convey the feeling of a snap-shot rather than a defined item as a framed painting. I didn’t want the lettering to be too prominent, so I went for a simple descriptive word ‘hair’ in very thin letters and some over-paint distortion. The loose horozontal white brushstrokes are there to give the impression of a glimpse while whizzing past at speed.

PPE – Mask

PPE Coronavirus Mask.
PPE Mask – Found object

I had to collect reference for my paintings in earlier exercises, so I felt it would be a fitting addition to this collection if I were to include some examples of those items. By isolating and placing the item in a box frame it gives it a sense of importance that is reminicent of the importance of preventing the spread of the virus.

PPE – Glove

PPE Coronavirus Glove.
PPE Glove – Found object

I collected a number of gloves, it is definately the blue ones that epitomize Covid-19 best for me. I really like the way that the material sticks together in a random way when the glove is removed, a result of the properties of the plastic, the sweat of the wearer and the static electricity or friction that is created as the glove is removed. It retains this configuration even when picked up – it has become something else!

Jelly Masks – Underwater pollution

PPE Masks that pollute our seas since Covid-19 emerged.
Jelly Masks – Underwater Pollution

Of the different types of masks, the elasticated hooped ones are the most prevelant, yet occasionally one with ties would find its self in the road. I was struck by the similarity to jellyfish that the dead mask with its tariling ties resembled. Aware that worldwide, the amount of PPE that has found its way into the sea is quite horrifying, this is my final memory in this series of Covid-19 Memories. It is not exactly a memory, more a vision that is a combination of what I see in the road, to what I know is happening in the sea.

PPE Masks that pollute our seas since Covid-19 emerged.
Work in progress – Jelly Masks – Underwater Pollution

This final image took a lot of layering to achieve the effect I wanted, I am considering re-visiting before assment to work on the sand some more, on reflection I am not entirely happy with it, The masks swim in their school while a few stray gloves look like chubby octopus on the sea floor. I opted not to include coral or rocks, I wanted to give the feeling of abyss.

I enjoyed exorcising these image memories of my time in lockdown and am pleased to have recorded the pandemic in a creative and individual way. I have experimented with different painting styles and combined together are diverse and consistent enough at the same time that they sit together in the series.

I also wanted to take my time over these images, I have not been able to spend as long as I like as the restrictions that the course puts on you to complete the course in a set overall timescale dictates that I have to move on. I have done the best I can in the time I have! Also the images in this blog are taken with two different cameras which is why the colour in not consistent, appearing darker in the final images.

Niki Gibbs

19 August 2020

Reworking of Jelly Masks following tutor comments.

Following comments from my tutor I have reworked one of my assignment pieces; Jelly Masks. On reflection I agree that of all the pieces this was the ‘weakest’. The main comment was that I should not do all the work for the viewer in my painting. The concept that I imagine the amount of masks that have made their way into the oceans and waterways and that the tie-masks look like dead jelly fish when they are spralled out disgarded on the road need not be spelled out so obviously in my work.

Jelly Masks – Mapping out for overpainting

Having put the work down for a few days, I took a fresh look at it. I decided that there could be more depth in it, the masks could look more like jellyfish, and the water surface and sand could do with a makeover.

I first painted the background in darker and the water surface softer and slightly more designed in nature. I wanted to darken the sand so that it did not jump out so much. I then referenced jellyfish and studied how I might incorporate them into my masks. I used a painterly approach to depict the shapes and had to do a lot of blending to do in order to create the impression of transparency.

Jelly Masks – forming Jelly Fish

I also changed the shape of the foreground blue glove to give the impression that it is ballooning as it is filled with water and looks more like an octopus, as well as adding a larger white glove in the foreground to add another layer of interest to the composition as well as helping to draw your eye from the bottom left of the canvas, up throught the direction of the jelly masks to the top right. I placed a glove on the artwork to photograph it to see if I preferred it with or without. I chose with, it told more of the story that it is not just masks that are littering the seas!

Jelly Masks – with real glove reference

I have tried to keep a fairly limited palett as I think this is appropriate for my subject matter. I am much happier with the re-worked piece, it is much more rounded and interesting to look at, and a good opportunity to apply feedback from my tutor while it was fresh in my mind.

Memories of Covid-19 Lockdown
Jelly Masks – Final artwork

I am happy that I took the time to rework this piece. It is a much fuller image now and slightly more confusing and complex to look at. The message is still there, especially with the addition of the foreground white glove which is being lightly lifted off the sand as the water flows underneath it. The problem of disgarded PPE in our waterways is an evergrowing problem.

Sketchbook Reference

Initial Sketches for Assignment 5
Initial Sketches for Assignment 5

Photographic reference

Reference compilation Assignment 5

Niki Gibbs

04 September 2020

Review of Part 5

• Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

I have enjoyed this part looking closely at an object, firstly in an environment, then focusing on the object its self. I have explored a number of media in this part; Watercolour, Pen and ink, oils and Natural Earth Pigments mixed with walnut oil. Having researched the toxic and harmful substances that are in modern paints, the materilas that we use to clean and the disposal of unused paint that is harmful to the environment, I wanted to see how these pigment paints worked. I feel a need to expolre these pigment paints further in my practice as I am very environmentally conscious in all other areas of my life, and feel that I should apply the same thinking to my artistic practice. I feel it is important to paint whatever Image I have chosen in an appropriate medium for the message that I am trying to get across. The painting ‘Mask in Weeds’ that I painted in exercise 1 I felt warranted a forensic botanical illustration approach. water colour is an ideal medium for this as you can build up the colour and shapes in layers and beingn such a fine medium it is possible to get very fine detail. My paintings in the latter exercises are done in oils as I felt that in this medium would enable me to be more expressive with mark making.

Painting the creases in the gloves was a particular challenge in all the media that I worked in. Looking at the range of colours and interpreting the way the material stuck together in laces and let the light through was not easy. Technically, I am happy with my results, and ‘Mask in Weeds’ has already found its way into a printed publication.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner with discernment.

The Covid-19 pandemic began around the same time as I began part 5 of this course and so I was presented with a perfect subject matter to study through the exercises. I enjoyed researching Wendy Gibbs and her botanical drawings, this research influenced my ‘Mask in Weeds’ painting absolutely. I also appreciated that way that going through the exercises made me look at and record the Covid-19 crisis in different way. With my Exercise 4 paintings, I wanted to examine the objects in a more impressionistic way, not in that style of painting, more refering to my use of brushstrakes, the results reminded of Meimi Thopmsons Paintings.

I was very particular about the type of PPE that chose to collect and paint, and I think I applied my theme/concept to the exercises in an appropriate way.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

I took the opportunity to experiment with a new medium in exercise 4, the Natural Earth Pigments are not simple to get to grip with the amount of medium to use and they take a long time to dry, this means that I am painting wet on wet most of the time. This creates a particular style and look to the image that I have not been able to get using modern oils. I am always keen to try new materials and apply them to my work. Understanding how they work will help me creatively combine different mediums as well as providing me with another ‘tool’ of experssion.

I like to work freely in the sense that I want to follow my gut feeling, and have an emotional connection with what I am painting. The least enjoyable of the four exercises for me was exercise 3 where I had to paint a corner of my room. I included the Covid-19 news on the TV in the painting in order to keep all the Covid-19 theme throughout. I Felt this was an imaginative way to include my theme in this exercise.

Context – Reflection, research (learning logs).

My research and learning logs have given me the opportunity to express my thoughts, process and research for this Part 5. I have explored my thinking and used my research in my work, recorded and presented everything in a clear and well illustrated way. I am keen to document things that interest or affect me and the Covid-19 pandemic provided me with both an interesting theme and a way of presenting objects or scenes that caught my attention. You see a lot of street detritus while cycling!

Niki Gibbs

5th July 2020

Exercise 5.4 – A study of Covid-19 Street dertitus.

Make a study of packaging or rubbish from something you’ve bought or Rubbish that you have found near your house.

I have been cycling for my daily exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic Lock-down and have been horrified at the amount of Personal Protective equipment that has ended up disgarded in the street. I collected these items forensically, then washed them in a bowl of diluted bleach to kill any residual virus.

Before you start,make three quick tonal studies with a soft pencil. Try to identify at least 10 different tones.


PPE found in the road around London N19
White Glove – Covid-19 PPE

All my drawings are done with my object placed on a sheet of white paper, my lighting is a combination of light from my working light and natural lught from the window. There ia a glowing halo along the shadow edge of the glove from light from the window passing through the semi-transparent glove. The fact that these items have been found in the street and because of the material that they are made from, they appear really crumpled, distorted and mis-shapen as the material sticks together in random ways. This white glove drawing is done with a 2B and 3B Monolith Graphite stick pencil, and as with all the drawings, is on HP Royal Watercolour Society paper approx 25 x 33 cm. To create the illusion of the creased texture I had to observr carefully to build up the tones. I deliberately did not go too dark as the glove is white, and I wanted to retain that sense of paleness in my drawing.

Blue Glove – Covid-19 PPE

This blue glove is a semi-transparent blue. It was drawn in daylight, the shadows were scarce. This drawing is done with a Colerase Blue Pencil that is my favourite pencil for sketching with. It is designed for animation; erases easily to a point, and has a good balance between the look of a soft pencil when used on its edge, and a hard pencil, it gives a good point, and a rich colour can be created with some pressure.

Tie Mask – Covid-19 PPE

I really like this type mask, they are less frequently found in the street and always look like a piece of road-kill the way they are sprawled and run-over in the road! It reminds me of a Jellyfish or Octopus the way the ties fall away. This drawing is done with a 2B, 3B and 4B Monolith Graphic sticks, they sharpen in an electric pencil sharpener really nicely!

Standard Mask – Covid-19 PPE

This is the type of mask that is most commonly found in the street, dropped prolifically and eventually cleaned up by the street cleaners! What is wrong with people that in a pandemic they drop potentially contaminated PPE all over the place? I had spent a few hours on the previous drawings, this on I wanted to try to do it with a softer pencil a bit quicker. The drawing is more basic, however the texture that I created on the mask area, I feel, gives it character of it’s own.

Make three paintings at least A5 in size.

Natural Earth Pigment Oil Paint

Covid-19 PPE

For this aspect of the exercise I wanted to experiment with some natural earth pigments mixed with Walnit Oil to create my paint. As instructed I painted all three of my canvas boards (8 x 10″) with a warm beige/cream colour base. It took over a week for this underlayer to dry, maybe I used too much oil, I was definately feeling my ground with this new meduim. The images are painted in quite a simplistic way, this was determined mainly by the meduim, working wet on wet it was quite hard to get the gradations of colour that I was after. painting was a bit of an amagamation of mixing directly on the canvas and overlaying tones.

Blue/Purple Glove – Covid-19 PPE

This first painting is in keeping with the work of Mimei Thompson; fluid simple brush strokes. The paint was applied with a no.4 round head brush and a flathead brush over the background.

Common Mask – Covid-19 PPE

This mask painting is painted in a similar style, mainly down to my choice of medium and my new investigation in how to work with it. The final image does however I think, convey what it is! Isolating the object and allowing the viewer to engage with it is the objective of this exercise. It is the way that the used item has morphed into its current shape that tells the story of its life; it was once new and pristine, now is stretched and twisted and disgarded.

White Gloves – Covid-19 PPE

For this third painting I wanted employ the suggedted use of very a limited palette with white gloves on white background. I had a 12″ tondo canvas left over from part 4 and arranged the gloves to form a heart with the fingers and thumb as people do to express their fondness for someone. The composition seemed fitting considering that this symbol has been used many times to express the nations love for the NHS and all the commitment they have given to combatting Covid-19.

Oil Painting

Covid-19 PPE

I painted these final three images for this exercise in modern Oil Paints as I am more familiar with using them and I wanted to get a wider range of tones and be able to overpaint pon a slightly quicker timescale. I did not underpaint these with a colour base, I did gesso the 12 x 16″ canvas boards, and then painted the background in using a subtle toned off-white with two layers in order to get some depth to it.

Blue Glove – Covid-19 PPE

I was quite happy with the final results for this exercise in all three parts, and enjoyed experimenting. The crumpled nature of the glove has an awkward shape that is a little disturbing; the material suctions together when the hand is removed forming distinct creases that catch the light in a myriad of ways.

Common Mask – Covid-19 PPE

I wanted to do a convincing painting of a mask, I like the way the folds deform and the pattern the holes make around the edge. I had quite a sharp light on this item and the shadow is well defined; quite shark like, similar the nature of Covid-19! This mask also tells the story of the wearer as the metal bar that is inserted into the top band remains bent as it has fitted around someones nose.

White Gloves – Covid-19 PPE

Finally, I wanted to depict a pair of gloves in the very limited palette suggested. Having a pair in the composition makes it more interesting and tells more of a story than just one glove. Who wore these gloves, what were they used for, and why did they drop them in the street?

I would like to experiment with this pigment paint further, however, I will have to take drying time into account as I didn’t find the medium very instant, I needed 3 stages; a jar for the individual powder, a old chocolate box with a plastic inlay that had uniform recessed bowls that I mixed the individual colours in, and then a palette lined with grease-proof paper for mixing my colours. I needed quite a lot of space on my table!

Niki gibbs

01 July 2020

Part 5: Essay

Pigment in Paint – An Environmentally Conscious Journey

All paint is fundamentally a mixture of fluid mixed with powdered stones (minerals) (pigment) to give colour; Ceramicists use a mixture of pigment with water and clay, painters use linseed oil to make oil paint and mural artists use egg to make egg-tempera. Watercolour, gouache, acrylic and even pastels, ink blocks, crayons and charcoal all also derive from this recipe, differing in amount of pigment and type of binding medium used.

The alchemy of combining different types of powdered stone along with other biological materials, minerals and elements such as tin, lead, copper, zinc and other metals create a range of colours that when mixed with a fluid medium become a stable compound that can be applied to a surface to produce a lasting image. This is the basis of the main ‘tool’ (paint), of the artist.

Natural Pigments in powdered form

Pigments differ in their availability, quality of colour and difficulty of acquisition; Tyrain Purple is made from the mucas of the murex snail and used as a fabric dye became a symbol of power and wealth in the phonetician times. Paintings of wealthy patrons and religious imagry often use Ultramarine which is made from the ground mineral lapis lazuli, a difficult mineral to mine and exrtact, therefore, less expensive works would use replacement pigments, both mineral (azurite, smalt) and biological (indigo).

Johannes Vermeer (October 1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch Baroque period and specialized in painting the domestic interior, and in the examples here show his use of ultramarine is a focus of the painting and brings a richness and warmth to the image. Of note is the use of this expensive pigment in his choice of where to use the ultramarine, predominantly in the main outer clothing to accentuate the figure and robes. Even the milk maid has an ultramarine apron, unusual to use such an expensive colour to depict a maid as the expensive pigments would normally be reserved for nobility and well paying patrons.

Industrial and scientific revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries brought the dawn of synthetic pigments adding a range of additional colours to the artists pallet. The next revolution for paint was the medium in which the pigment is held. By the middle 20th century, standardized methods for pigment chemistry were introduced. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed technical standards for the manufacture of pigments and dyes.

Not all pigments, however, are safe. Lead in paints is known to be toxic to humans, and the addition of radioactive isotope (radionuclide) in Radioluminescent paint to make paint glow and once commonly used on clock faces is now tightly regulated.

With the introduction of synthetic mediums, the drying of paint also releases low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. The source of these toxins is a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also the disposal of unused paint, paint sludge and dilution mediums such as white spirit used to dilute modern oil paints, can be harmful to our environment if disposed of into our water system or landfill sites.

As we all become more aware and informed of the environmental impact of harmful substances that are used in so many of the products that we buy in the form of packaging, in process and manufacture and to clean the materials that we use for our work and in our daily lives, there are many companies and individuals that are seeking to develop and provide products that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Natural earth paint is sold as powdered pigment that is mixed by the artist with linseed oil. Leah Fanning Mebane is the drive and founder of Natural Earth Paints and has spent years researching and developing environmentally alternative products in response to petroleum based oil paints that have actually only been around since the late 19th Century.

Her bright vibrant work painted in Natural Earth pigments re-enforces the mantra that although tube paints are convenient for the modern artist, a (probably) messier base medium of self-mixed pigments is an environmentally responsible way of painting moving forward in our modern age.


What Painting is by James Elkins. Published by Routledge – 1999




Pigment mixing


Loose pigment



Tube paints

Ultramarine painting


Johannes Vermeer


Leah Fanning Mebane


All links accessed at time of writing: 09-10 June 2020

Exercise 5.3 – Make a study of the corner of your room.

Choose a corner where the light changes a lot throughout the day. Using watercolour on A5 watercolour paper, make a study from life in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

A5 watercolour studies of my living room

I decided to do this exercise in my living room painting what I see when I work with this vantage point. The room is generally quite dark, and I have to have a working light on to have enough light to work by, as well as sometimes the overhead light on as well. It portrays my living/working environment in this room. I like to work with the TV on, it provides me with some company, something to listen to and learn from, and something else to focus when I look away from what I am working on. As this part of my course is being conducted during Lock-Down the news about Covid-19 is a bit of a constant and the theme for me for part 5, the TV depicts news coverage of worldwide pandemic in each study. The comfortable sofa is often covered in artwork, not for this image, but the supplies are tucked away down the side of the sofa, on and behind the round table, and in the drawers of the cabinet. The easel is a constant companion to the TV, and I often have work in progress on it so as to contemplate what I might like to do to next to that piece. Having work on it blocks the receiving point for the remote control, so it is in and out of use!

Living Room – Daytime

On a bright day, as is today (31st May 2020) the room is quite bright, I have a good view of the terrace and tree opposite through the window, ( I can’t open the shutters with the sofa in place and it is more private with the lower shutters closed). The colours seem paler and brighter than later in this light in the day, so this painting only uses paynes grey in the dark and shadow areas. The Coronavirus updates are repeatedly on the news.

Living Room – Evening

In the late afternoon/early evening the colours on the wall in particular seem darker and richer. There is a certain time of the day at this time of year twhen the sun hits the window on the house opposite and glares through the window in a blinding way and creates a rainbow in the reflection on the TV. I wanted to capture this moment, which coincidentally coinsided with the Coronavirus daily update on TV. I used paynes grey a lot to depict the shaded areas in this study, but also used a darker palette as a whole. I had used a no.1 and 2 brush for the first study, this time using a no.3 as well to get a better gradation and wash.

Living Room – Night

For this final study, when the room is really dark and I can no-longer see anything out of the window, I painted pretty much the whole painting with paynes grey as a monochrome image first before adding any colour later. This way I could get the mood of the room quite quickly. I painted these three studies in this documented order in a way to feel my way into painting a dark watercolour. Watercolour is a quite light fresh medium and lends its self to working with a lot of white space. When working on exercise 5.1 I realised that layering the watercolour and not using black would help me create some depth and darkness. At this time of night the news was documenting the demonstrations at the death of George Floyd by police in the USA and the protests at racial inequality worldwide.

The artists that we were suggested as reference for this exercise show work in a variety of media which gives a very different feel to watercolour, but they do depict a narrative or story within the image, which is something I have tried to do with my studies.

Artist Reference for exercise 5.3

Niki Gibbs

03 June 2020

Exercise 5.2 – A five minute walk

Make a study of something you see on a walk withing 5 minutes of your house. • Make five sketches in black and diluted black ink on grey/beige postcard sized paper. • Make five sketches in watercolour on HP watercolour postcard sized paper.

Covid-19 Walk Monochrome postcards

At this time of writing we are currently living in ‘Lock-Down’ and I wanted to use this exercise to explore how my local area has changed and adapted to lock-down during the Covid-19 pandemic and produce a series of postcards that told a story of these unprecedented times.

I live in Holloway in North London and cycle most days around the area, I also went for a few other walks during this time, stopping to photograph anything that catches my eye that I find interesting.

Parkland Walk During Covid-19
Ink on beige card A6

As these postcards are all sketches I took some artistic license in that I often sketched my scene ‘amendedly’ in order that it told the story about my local area in Lock-down more succinctly, although not with this image of Parkland walk. A popular dog-walking and jogging pathway that used to be the steam train track that went from Finsbury Park to Highgate, one my father used to ride on the footplate as a child traveling to school each day. The path is 2.5 miles long and has Covid-19 Social distancing signs strategically placed at all entrances as well as along the path. The path although well used, was thankfully compliant for the most part with social distancing! The signs, lone cyclist and hidden running dog epitomized this path for me.

I used black Quink ink to paint all my postcard sketches and a n.1 – no.4 brush.

Wray Cresent Tollington Park During Covid-19
Ink on grey card A6

I was struck by the fact that the benches in Wray Crescent were taped up to prevent people from sitting on them an spreading the virus which can live for days on hard surfaces. The tape was only there for a few weeks and not exactly that effective when it was there as I noticed people sitting on them!

Bounds Green Petrol Station During Covid-19
Ink on grey card A6

I do not have a car, but I did notice how much the price of petrol had dropped as oil production was halted as people stayed at home and stopped using their cars. The price before was about £1.40-£1.50 a litre if not more!

finsbury Park Railway Bridge During Covid-19
Ink on beige card A6

At the beginning of Parkland walk there is a footbridge that crosses the railway into Finsbury park. This footbridge is often congested and is a favorite spot for parents with small children to stop and watch the trains. The footbridge was closed as social distancing can not be observed when crossing it. I used Calligraphy ink with a dip pen to draw in the gates; this ink is thicker and less absorbent than the black quink ink and defines the metal railings better.

Bounds Green Gutter During Covid-19
Ink on beige card A6

And, finally for my nostalgic monochrome postcards I wanted to show a new scruge that has suddenly blighted our streets; PPE, masks and gloves, placing this mask by the drain is a powerful snapshot of careless disposal.

Covid-19 Walk Watercolour postcards
Thorpedale Road N4 During Covid-19
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper A6

It was also the 75th Anniversary of Dunkirk during the Covid-19 Lockdown, this postcard captures the spirit of these two events as combining the bunting that was strung through some railings and trees in Thorpedale Road with the rainbows drawn by kids that have appeared in windows across the country in support of the NHS workers tackling the pandemic on the front line. It was nice to see the bunting despite the fact that there were not going to be any street parties due to social distancing this year.

Alexandra Palace Park During Covid-19
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper A6

I cycle over Alexandra Palace hill almost daily as part of my daily exercise route, at first the park was empty, but as the weather warms, more people speckle the grass in a socially distanced manner on the slope which looks out across London towards the City and Canary Wharf. I really liked the patterns that the Victorian streets of terraced houses made as they trace over the contours of the land.

Parkland Walk During Covid-19
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper A6

Again on Parkland walk I wanted o depict the new normal of people going about their business in a socially distant way wearing masks. People are still on their phones while walking their dogs and the bins are littered with PPE.

Elthorne Park N19 During Covid-19
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper A6

Elthorne Park N19 on Hornsey Road has a number of outside gym equipment that have been barricaded off to prevent people from using them. Shockingly, the larger gym area round the corner had been broken into and was a veritable party! I swapped the equipment, bringing the blue machine to the foreground as this would read better in the foreground. I also included a jogger as this is a popular cut-through for joggers.

Roadside Bushes During Covid-19
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper A6

Finally, I wanted to conclude this series with another example of littered PPE, this time caught up in the bushes by the roadside. For some reason I have become a little obsessed by discarded PPE, It is the environmentalist crying inside me!

Reference Images

Niki Gibbs

28 May 2020

Exercise 5.1 – A very detailed painting

Make one very detailed painting using watercolour, acrylic or oil paint of plants or weeds in your garden or nearby environment. Use a surface between A5 and A3 in size and paint the surface with a mid-tone first.

Mask in Weeds
Watercolour on fabriano Artistico paper image A3 portrait

I began this exercise during the Covid-19 lock-down. I go for a daily bike ride which takes me past Bounds Green Ambulance Station which is located opposite some green space that fronts blocks of flats and houses. I had began taking photographs of discarded PPE masks and gloves that have suddenly become prevalent litter all over our streets. One particular mask caught in a dead weed caught my attention and I stopped to photograph it a number of times, which just goes to show how little the streets are cleaned! One area of the grass had been mowed without clearing the litter first and is now a mosaic of cut green grass and blue bits of plastic PPE!

I was inspired by my research into the work of Wendy Gibbs’s Botanical illustrations and the work or John James Audubon whose work I have always admired.

Illustrations by Wendy Gibbs and John James Audubon

I began this exercise by doing an A3 sketch from the photographs I had taken on my bike ride, however I had Wendy’s words in my head about working from life and having samples in her fridge. Thus, on a subsequent bike ride I stopped to forensically collect the weed (which was now even more dead!) and the mask so that I could reference it properly as I was painting it. As Corona Virus is so infectious I collected the mask in a bag without touching it and washed in soapy bleached water to disinfect it before setting it up to draw from. This was really helpful, especially in recording the detailed shapes and colours.

Covid-19 mask and gloves litter the streets.

I wanted to do my painting as close to life size as possible – in line with traditional botanical drawings so that they can be scientifically referenced. My painting is not measured absolutely accurately, but is comfortably close (artistic licence rules applied!) enough for the image that was in my head as the desired outcome. I had envisaged writing notes in pencil over the painting in the top right corner, however in the end I decided to leave it and write under the image instead as I felt it would detract from the painting its self. I also managed my composition based mainly on one photograph, but including the additional elements of the glove, cigarette butts and road markings.

Mask in weeds work in progress.

Once I had sketched out my composition on A3, I realised that I wanted to include a discarded glove as well, as this to me told a visual story of how Covid-19 has made its self present throughout our community; the releaively deserted streets, warning signs and discarded PPE. The placement of the glove looked too cramped in the A3 composition so I made the decision to paint my composition A3 in height, but slightly wider in format so that the glove would sit comfortably in frame, your eye sweeps in a curve from glove to top of weed in the direction guided by the kerb and yellow road marking. The road marking was an important inclusion to re-enforce the notion that we are looking at something kerbside.

Still with Wendy Gibbs voice in my head I sketched my composition out in a hard fine pencil and painted with Windsor and Newton (Cotman) watercolour paints (This was the closest thing I could get in Lock-down to use to what Wendy uses. I didn’t have pigments! But at least it was Windsor and Newton! I will probably learn how much better the tube paints are when I get a chance to use them in the future.) on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm paper. The course required that I paint on a coulored ground, I was a bit conflicted here as I had Wendy’s words ‘ I never use black or white as I use the white from the paper to shine through’. For this reason I used masking fluid to mask out the fluffy white bits on the head of the weed and the mask so that the white could shine through in those areas and be protected from the pale Sap Green wash that painted as my ground. I was weary about painting a coulured ground, however it proved useful in providing a mid-tone for the background, especially the grass and tarmac areas. I used mostly a no.2 brush with a no.1 for fine detail.

It took a long time to paint in many sessions over about a week. As Wendy allude to; watercolour paintings in this style lend themselves to be tapped into when convenient and time allows. I did discover that I could paint during my Zoom meetings, which made those meetings much more bearable!!

The painting its self was done pretty much in sections; starting with the road markings followed by the detritus, the tarmac, the kerb done lightly then the mask and glove and finally the grass. I found that I had to re-visit each of these areas multiple time so keep my colour balance and emphasis working. Every time I painted a new layer of detail, the image became darker and more dense and I would then have to detail and darken adjacent areas to balance the overall tone. Working over time enables you to look at the image in progress and make decisions on where more work would be required within the composition. The glove for instance needed more layers that the rest of the painting in order for it to look solid and sit in the foreground without jumping out.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed exploring this particular way of working. I do not consider my artwork detailed and precise enough to be called a botanical illustration. My eyesight is not the 20/20 vision that I used to have in my 20’s, so even with glasses I do not think I am seeing it in the detail that i would like. My painting is slightly more impressionistic than Botanical illustration, my brush strokes are not as fine or accurate, but I do feel I have created the impression of detail necessary enough to convey the image that I wanted to and that was in my head!

Niki Gibbs

17 May 2020

Wendy Gibbs

Research point for Understanding Painting Media part 5 – Studying one’s close environment.

Whilst considering looking at my close environment I was reminded that my parents had often mentioned that we have a botanical artist in our family, so I took the opportunity to contact Wendy Gibbs who was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions and provide me with some samples of her work.

Flame of the Forest, Field sketch, Gujarat, India
Wendy Gibbs
Flame of the Forest, Field sketch, Gujarat, India
Wendy Gibbs

Wendy Gibbs attended Trent Park Training School in Cockfosters in 1961 (coincidentally this is where I studied Graphic Design as was then Middlesex Polytechnic 1985-89, now flats!) following being the only person from her Grammer School to do art, which she went on to gain a distinction for. Wendy left England in 1966 (the year I was born!) and resided in 9 different countries before settling in France.

Saffron Crocus
Wendy Gibbs

Wendy has had a passion for plants from an early age, probably as young as 5! Her early paintings explore all subjects and media; landscapes, still life, portraits in all media – oil, acrylic and water colour. Having a family was the main reason for focusing on botanical illustration, space and time restrictions come with young children; “the real adjustment came when I had children and I lost my work space and I needed to adjust to having a way of painting that did not require long periods of uninterrupted time. With watercolour I could work for short periods, put it down and re-start.”

Great Peacock Moth
Wendy Gibbs

Wendy always paints from living material, plants change rapidly over time, so being able to paint quickly is imperative, a constant store of plant material in her fridge is also essential! However, many studies and research will have preceded a final painting.

Passion Flower
Wendy Gibbs

When illustrating botanical species the subject needs to be drawn accurately to life size as this makes them applicable for scientific study and reference. This can be challenging, especially for instance when she was asked to illustrate a new species of palm in Vietnam, painting part of a giant leaf, life size! Photographs she finds too two dimensional and doesn’t give the detail wanted, e.g. the colour of the underside of a leaf. Mapping the subject out in an F pencil then layering water colour, building up layers to create darker tones, never using black or white, the white coming from the paper. Favoured brushes are Widnsor and Newton Kolinsky Sable, Series 7, numbers 1, 2 and 3, care being taken to keep the tips in good order, which thus requires consistent care and a constant supply of new brushes, the failing ones used to mix paint and be donated to grandchildren! Using Winsor and Newton artist quality paint, Wendy prefers to buy the paint in tubes then to put the paint into a folding metal palette which is convenient for work and travel.

I also notice on the sketches that notes and colour samples surround the drawing providing reference for the colours and tones used as well as relevant information to the plant subject its self. These sketches in the field record the natural colours before bringing the plant into the studio and help retain original information that will become lost or change over time. Working on one piece at a time until it’s completion enables her to capture the life of the plant with greater freshness within a fragile time frame.

“Everything I do must be botanically accurate. Because I work sometimes with botanists I need to observe and record accurately. However, I do try to make each composition both botanically accurate and artistically satisfying. I want to communicate the plant itself not to change it.

Wendy Gibbs

“I spend a lot of time getting to know the subject because I want to include all the botanical information. I probably spend more time working a subject out than I spend actually painting it. Working six hours a day I often spend 10 to 14 days to complete a piece of finished work.”

Wendy Gibbs

For sketching Wendy prefers to use 300gsm Bristol Paper, however final pieces are done on Fabriano Paper 640 gsm Brilliant White which is important as it allows the colours to shine through.

Image result for What is Bristol paper made of?
Construction of Bristol Paper

The term Bristol derives from the early days of European papermaking when mills would send their finest papers to Bristol, England to be pasted together. Bristol papers generally have two types of surfaces: smooth and vellum. Smooth surfaces are great for pen & ink, mechanical pencil, airbrush, and markers, the Velum surface is are great for graphite, colored pencil, charcoal, pastel, and crayon. The surface has peaks and valleys which grab dry media such as graphite. More even shading and deeper tones can be achieved on a vellum surface.

Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper is mould made, produced with 100% cotton, chlorine and acid free, guaranteeing long conservation and inalterability over time. The paper is sized both internally and externally, making it ideally absorbent and retaining its nature unaltered even if scratched. It is traditional white, without optical bleaching.

Wendy Gibbs

Wendy has exhibited, sold and taught at the Geneva Botanical Garden for 14 years in a row now and has published in a number of botanical publications; “I do do work for books for botanists and entomologists (I do a lot of butterfly painting). I do like very much to go to the field with experts, plant hunting or collecting material for a particular project. But basically I sell what I do through galleries and shops in botanical gardens.”

Fortunate enough to be able to work for love rather than having to be commercially driven; “I work every day that I can on something in order to get it down and record what I see. Now I work mostly on the things I see in the countryside around in rural France me whatever they are; plants, insects, lizards etc.”

Wendy Gibbs

I am a plant enthusiast and I want to share that with people who look at my work and to teach the love of plants.”

I want to extend my grateful thanks to Wendy Gibbs for answering my questions, telling me about her extradornary life of work allowing me to write this article showcasing her amazing and inspiring work.

Niki Gibbs

April 2020

Additional Research reference

Thanks to Maggie and Tony Gibbs for supplying postcards of Wendy’s work following a trip they made to visit her and her husband in France some years ago.

Bristol Paper:


Fabriano Artistico paper:


Begonia Pavonina