Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 29 January 2016

This month's Gardens Illustrated linocut - Banksias!

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!



  1. How lovely for you to be reminded of your Australian road trip ..and in the gloom of a British winter. And I now know what a Banksia is :)

  2. Another lovely illustration! I must say, I'm enjoying reading about the inspiration and the thought processes behind the finished pieces too. Looking forward to seeing February's illustration and story....

  3. Dear Celia, here's an odd thing. I'm sure I left a comment on your previous Owl post...but wonder where it flew off to. I like your dual portrait very much, and think the ink color you chose is perfect. I envy your finding that precious book, as well.

    Now. On to Gardens Illustrated matters. What a great coincidence to have your road trip's memories reawakened by the magazine's brief to you! I like your preparatory drawing and painting so much. There is so much grace in all the shapes. I can imagine that cutting the block must have been fun, if a bit tricky. Clever you to have kept those de Morgan tiles in the back of your mind. The resulting illustration is fabulous. Frank and you are certainly a fine team.

    I wonder if GI would consider a series of tiles based on your prints? Just saying....


    1. OH me too! I wondered if I had just forgotten to hit the "publish" button!

  4. How lovely to be asked to produce something that brings back so many memories:-)

  5. I really enjoy reading these posts about your design process. Fascinating! And how lovely that it brought back such good memories.

  6. I love this one Celia, I think it may be my favourite so far - there is just something so appealing to me about the colour and the shapes. How fun to be whisked away in your mind to hot and sunny Australia on a cold and wintry day :)

  7. My friend has a bowl of banksia seed pods and I'm often trying to 'borrow' them for drawing experience but she'll have none of it as I believe she knows that it will be the last she sees of them! Looking forward to the next GI and itching to get to get out in the garden and move some plants around in readiness for the season ahead. Lovely to read about your process here and see it come to life.


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