Botanical Mixed Study, SBA Diploma Portfolio

Forsythia x intermedia, Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’, Iris xiphium

Since I had three months to do my diploma pieces (for the SBA program), I assigned myself one painting per month. The way it worked out was that the mixed study had to be done in January. I never realized until then how paltry the selection of nursery or florist plants is in the middle of winter. I guess it does make sense–its too cold to garden and there are no holidays that would involve plant-giving in January.

On my visit to the nursery, the yawning clerk looked at me with surprise as if I had just interrupted her nap. The store was strangely quiet and the scattered plants seemed rather forlorn in the nearly empty isles. I then pinned my hopes on a nearby florist. Fortunately there I found some Dutch Iris in bud and forsythia twigs beginning to bloom, then went back to the nursery for some Tete a Tete daffodils that I had noticed before, to fill out the scheme. At home, I drew my composition with the forsythia and daffodils, leaving a blank spot where the iris would go as I waited for its petals to unfurl.

After a few days, the iris buds withered away to limp gray blobs without ever fully opening. Now it was too late to start over with another composition, so the search for opened Iris blossoms began. I found some slightly tattered ones at a grocery store and forged ahead. But they only lasted a couple of days before they turned into gray blobs as well. Fortunately when I returned in hopes of a fresh bunch, the grocery store had received a new shipment so I bought some more…and this cycle repeated again and again.  Finally I finished the mixed study, although a bit past my self-imposed deadline.  I suspect that the grocery store manager wondered about the sudden rush on Dutch irises!

Addendum: Tutor’s Comments & My Reflections:

My tutor said this was a “well executed piece of work with a pleasing color mix”.  She thought my composition was well organized but it would have been better to raise the level of the Iris and small Narcissi.  I also should have added a leaf between both daffodils and made the leaf at the edge straighter.

The botanist noted that the plants were carefully studied and accurately reproduced.

I agree with my tutor about the leaves at the bottom–I just ran out of time and didn’t want to dash off a leaf and ruin the painting…and for the life of me, I don’t know why I made that one on the right curved, which is not typical of daffodil leaves.  I am not sure about the suggestion raising the level of the Iris…its hard for me to picture that…but onward…


  1. Oh yes I did – we could write a book couldn’t we!
    I love everything about this painting – the composition, the colours – the depth is wonderful with the iris leaping forward.
    Stunning! Congratulations x

  2. Beautiful movement in this piece Janene! Oh yes, you got to have a bit of drama – it then gets translated into the piece to give it a bit of kapow! (Which I think it has in your case) – stunning.

  3. Your diploma pieces are really beautiful Janene, congratulations xx

  4. I have that same problem with irises: within a day or two they seem to turn into those gray blobs. I recently sketched a miniature Dutch iris from the yard and as I looked at it closely, I saw that on the back of each petal there was a silver streak (behind the yellow streak on the front). It was something I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been looking so intently in order to draw it. I’m sure you are always discovering new beauty in what you’re painting. It shows, by the gorgeous detail you’re incorporating in your work.

  5. Another stunning piece. I love the brilliance you have depicted here. And again your subjects are alive and very viable. They could be plucked off that paper and put into a vase!

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