January is almost over and I nearly forgot to blog about my linocut for the January 2016 Gardens Illustrated magazine, so here we go . . .
I have no idea what Frank will write about until the email form David at the magazine HQ, pops up in my in-box with a red exclamation mark flagging it's urgency.
It was late November, I'd just returned from Scotland and gales were still raging across the country. So what was more apt for the first 'Frank' for 2016 than . . .
Luckily I'd met a Banksia - or rather several thousand - while on a road trip with Cliff 20 years ago (TWENTY!!! how did that happen?!) I recorded the adventure with a pictorial map which hangs on our wall. A glance reminds me of the straight tarmac road heading across the red dusty landscape and lined either side with huge grey-green shrubs which were covered with huge yellow and white flowers that looked like ice-cream sundaes.
Back home I'd found that these strange flowers were one of dozens of shrubs in the genus Banksia, named after Joseph Banks (that precocious, rich, adventurer and botanist).
As Frank discovers on his visit to a Californian plant nursery to buy heat/drought tolerant plants for his garden, Banksias come in many different forms . . . so I had to do some research on the web and make some drawings of the Banksias that caught Frank's eye.
A new year of work for Gardens Illustrated deserves a new sketch book - a pristine new Saunders Waterford/Cuthbert Mills paper sketchbook - an indulgence, but it makes me happy.
Frank was excited by the leaf shapes as much as the flowers, so I decided that they needed no extra elements and I'd let the Banksia leaves make the design . . . for speed I swapped to working digitally, scanning in my sketches and working in Photoshop. At the back of my mind were William de Morgan tile designs and because this was for the January magazine, a New Year candle.
I put together a 'rough' and mock up of how the illustration sits of the page layout, to send to David at GI HQ and to get the thumbs up before I cut the block and make a print.
Below is the grey-scale image I used to trace down onto the block - of course I traced it down in reverse, but this has been taped into my sketchbook the right way round.
Here's the final proof, which was scanned for the digital image that was sent to the magazine. And on the right the final page of January's Gardens illustrated with my Banksias linocut in Franks's column.
Thank you Frank for sending me down memory lane to my big adventure in Oz twenty years ago. As I carved the block I recalled many things - the heat, the massive road-trains, the flocks of budgies . . .
This afternoon - I'm working on the illustration for the March magazine, this time Frank's writing about a road trip of his own and I'm getting itchy feet!
Meanwhile the February Gardens illustrated will be on the news stands soon . . . I'll blog about it soon, it's one of my favourites so far!