Recent paintings

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Iris ‘Killiney’ – Copyright 2017 Jane Stark

This watercolour on Fabriano Artistic 640gsm was painted for Heritage Irish Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta, a joint project between the Irish Garden Plant Society (IGPS) and the Irish Society of Botanical Artists (ISBA). Fifty-nine botanical artists painted Irish heritage garden plants in eight categories: snowdrops, iris, sweet peas, dahlias, plants bred from native Irish species, daffodils, primroses and woody plants. Members of the IGPS and other Irish plantsmen wrote the text to accompany this selection of cultivars, most of which have been bred since 2000. Iris ‘Killiney’, along with two other bearded iris (‘War and Peace’ and ‘High Command’) were exceptions, having been bred and named by Bertram Long: ‘Kilkenny’ was first exhibited in 1939, whilst ‘War and Peace’ and ‘High Command’ were introduced in 1943 and 1945 respectively. All the paintings featuring in the book were exhibited at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin, in November 2016. The exhibition was opened by Martyn Rix, editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.
The original painting of Iris ‘Killiney’ has been sold to a private collector, but a limited edition of 20 full-size, mounted, archival pigment prints are available for sale at €120 each, plus postage and packing. For further details, please email me at janestarkbotanicals@gmail.com.

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Eriophorum angustifolium ‘Bog cotton’ Copyright 2017 Jane Stark

Anyone who has visited the west of Ireland in the summer has almost certainly seen large drifts of this beautiful, delicate member of the sedge family covering tracts of bogland, the fluffy white seed heads standing out against the surrounding earthy tones. ‘Bog cotton’ or ‘cottongrass’ is native to Ireland, but is found throughout the Northern hemisphere in areas of peatland and heath, as far north as Alaska and Greenland.

After painting the magnificent and stately Iris ‘Killiney’, I decided to paint something much less showy and decided on this modest little plant. It seemed in keeping with receiving the news that my parents, after nearly 75 years of marriage, were both experiencing the effects of their impressive ages (95 and 97) and had to give up their independence to be cared for in a nursing home. As I painted the bog cotton, my Dad’s condition deteriorated following a bout of pneumonia. On Friday, 23rd June, around 1.30pm Irish time, I put the finishing touches to the painting. Shortly afterwards, I learned that he had passed away very peacefully in Canada at about the same time. I decided to keep the painting in my own collection as a special reminder and tribute to my Dad, who had encouraged me to develop my gifts as an artist from the time I was a little girl. A limited edition of 20 full-size, mounted, archival pigment prints are available for sale at €95 each, plus postage and packing.

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Sarracenia leucophylla ‘White-topped pitcher plant’ – Copyright 2017 Jane Stark

Carnivorous plants hold a huge fascination for me after painting the South American sun pitcher Heliamphora heterodoxa a couple years ago. Sarracenia leucophylla is a native North American pitcher plant belonging to the same family Sarraceniaceae. It’s a fairly large painting, as I was working at the actual plant size. I was under time pressure to finish the painting in time for the Botanical and Floral Art in Bloom exhibition at Phoenix Park at the beginning of June 2017, and found the number of pitchers I had decided to paint quite challenging, particularly since I had to work with the painting upside down when I was doing the flowers and tops of the pitchers. Fortunately, I managed to finish it in time for the exhibition and was delighted when it was a awarded a bronze medal. The original mounted and framed painting is for sale for €1250.

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Some Goals for the Coming Year

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No matter how experienced and skilled we are as artists, there is always room for improvement. Most of us, at sometime or other, feel that we could do better, and the beginning of a new year is a good time to look at some ways in which one might make a few changes.

Being realistic . . .

As with any other new year’s resolutions, it’s important from the outset to not take on more than you can realistically manage. Even the smallest of steps, taken often enough, will eventually lead to improvement.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Finding time . . .

Without doubt, one of the most widespread complaints from artists is that they never seem to have enough time. Other commitments so easily get in the way of artistic endeavour, often to the point where we simply give up and put away our brushes, pencils, paper, paints etc. In reality, almost everyone can find some amount of time to draw and/or paint, but if it isn’t already part of your daily routine, it may require some effort and adjustment.

Some suggestions . . .

Painting regularly will only happen if you set aside time specifically for that purpose. Saying you will use your leisure time means that you will only draw or paint when everything else is taken care of . . . and by then you are too tired!

Decide on how much time you can realistically set aside – 15 minutes, an hour, a morning or afternoon . . . and make a commitment to include that in your regular routine. For me, it works well to set aside time in the morning, before I work on more mundane tasks. Ideally, I like to paint/draw for several hours, but sometimes that isn’t possible, so I spend as long as I can. Even 15-20 minutes spent on work in progress will bring me a little closer to my goal. As far as possible during that time, I avoid telephone calls, emails etc.

“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.”

Napoleon Hill

If you can only manage a very short time each day, set aside a ‘painting day’ now and then. It can relieve some of the frustration caused by lack of time if you can look forward to an extended painting/drawing session every now and then. Write it down in your diary and stick to it as you would any other appointment.

Make sure that you have a spot set aside where you can leave your work in progress, so that you don’t have to waste precious time setting up. At the very least have a box/bag/drawer where you can keep all your art materials together. Using fold-over palettes or palettes with lids will allow you to have colours already mixed from one session to another.

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Choose your subject matter according to the amount of time you can afford to spend on a daily basis. If your time is very limited, look for small subjects – seedpods, a single flower, a leaf etc – or something that will not wilt or decay in a hurry.

Finding inspiration . . .

Sometimes it is hard to feel inspired, and lack of motivation can result in just not bothering to get out your art materials. Some days we feel more motivated and creative than at other times, so a little forethought can help on those days when the muse just doesn’t seem to be with us.

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If you use a computer, keep a folder of images that inspire you – it might contain a mixture of work by other artists, stunning photos you come across on-line, photos that you have taken yourself etc. You might find it useful to join www.pinterest.com, where you can find endless inspiration and also store your own images. Boards on Pinterest don’t have to be ‘public’ – you can set them up so that only you can access them.

If you feel more at home with ‘hard copies’, consider setting up a scrap book or a series of folders that can hold your own photos, images that you find in magazines or that you have printed out from the internet.

 

Other sources of inspiration . . .

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Books about art can be very helpful in stimulating creative juices. Read about some of the great botanical artists of the past and present – Marianne North, Margaret Mee, Maria Sybilla Merian, Mary Delany, Franz Bauer, Rory McEwen etc – or spend time reading one of the many excellent ‘how-to’ books that are available. But don’t limit yourself to botanical art – read about Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, the Impressionists, John Ruskin, David Hockney . . . the possibilities are endless.

Inspiration can be found in many places – art galleries, botanical gardens, garden centres, woodland walks, a visit to the seashore. Do make sure when you are out and about to keep a little notebook or sketchbook for recording ideas. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to do some sketching, take photos and make note of any ideas that may come to you. It is amazing how easily these are forgotten once you get home if you have no written or photographic record!

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

Limited edition archival quality prints

Heliamphora heterodoxa South American sun pitcher ©Jane Stark

Heliamphora heterodoxa South American sun pitcher ©Jane Stark

I am delighted to offer a strictly limited edition of ten double-mounted giclée prints of my painting of Heliamphora heterodoxa, which won a silver-gilt medal at the 2015 Botanical & Floral Art in Bloom Exhibition in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. Each print is produced to the highest archival standards by The Copper House in Dublin, and comes with a hologrammed authentication certificate. The overall dimensions, including the mount, are 35.4 x 45.5cm  (14″ v 18″); image area measures 23.7 x 32.8cm (approx. 9.35″ x 13″).
No further prints of this painting will be made.

Price per print €120 plus postage and packing – please email me at laragan.hall@gmail.com for p&p rates, which will be charged at cost.
Payment by Paypal or bank transfer – please email for details.

Please note: The image above may not be reproduced in any printed form whatsoever without written permission from the artist as well as an appropriate credit line. If you wish to reproduce it on the internet, please include the above caption and credit line.

‘Jewels of Autumn’ Botanical Art Workshops

A few places are still available for these two botanical art workshops being held in Moycullen, County Galway on Saturday 26 September and Saturday 24 October 2015. Even if you are a complete beginner, you are very welcome to come along and spend the day (10.00am – 4.00pm) painting some special autumnal subjects, such as chestnuts, blackberries, coloured leaves etc. Cost for one workshop is €40 per person, or €75 for both workshops.

Botanical Art Workshops Autumn 2015

AUTUMN 2015 BOTANICAL ART CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS

September is almost here and botanical artists look forward to the wonderful autumn foliage, fruits and seed pods that provide endless possibilities for new paintings and drawings. It’s also the time of year when classes begin again after the summer break. I am looking forward to meeting new students as well as ‘veterans’ of previous courses.

Thursday morning classes begin again on 10 September in An Fuaran, Moycullen, Co Galway, with the first course running until Thursday 29 October, inclusive. Another eight-week course will begin in mid-November. Details are on the poster, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or email. An eight-week course costs €140, but a €20 voucher towards the next course will be given to all students at the end of the course.

Saturday workshops will also begin in September and will be scheduled roughly once a month. These have been extended by one hour and will run from 10am to 4pm with a short break for lunch. The price, however, remains the same as before: €40 for the day.

Do remember to book early as places are limited.

Plans are also underway for a number of informal workshops at Claregalway Castle during the autumn and winter, so watch this space for further information on those.

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Botanical Art at Claregalway Castle during Heritage Week 2015

I’m delighted to be taking part in Heritage Week at Claregalway Castle this year. As botanical artist-in-residence, I will be working in the Farmhouse at the castle every afternoon (12.30 – 5.00) from Monday 24 – Friday 28 August inclusive. On Thursday 27 August, I am also giving a talk at 6.00pm in the lecture hall: Heritage of Irish Botanical Art from 1750 to the present. There is a small admission fee (€5: adult; €3: concession; child: free) for the talk, but there is no charge for visiting the Farmhouse to see my work in progress, as well as the exhibition of botanical paintings by several members of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists. If you are in the area, do drop by for a chat and a cup of tea. There will be some free handouts about botanical art, along with some beautiful botanical art books to browse through.

Heritage Week will be celebrated in many different ways at Claregalway Castle and there  is something for everyone. Dr Chris Doyle will be doing his fabulous tours of the castle every day during Heritage Week at 12.30, 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30 – no better way to learn more about the fascinating history of this sensitively restored castle. On Wednesday 26 August, Chris will also give a talk at 6.00pm about Cromwell’s siege of Claregalway Castle. If you are interested in medieval combat, there are demonstrations on Saturday the 22nd, along with archery displays and a children’s bow and arrow workshop. And the following weekend, Saturday 29 August. 6.00pm–10.30pm, there is a celebration of the life and work of Ciarán Bairéad (1905-76), and especially of his work as a folklore collector and recorder of Irish dialect in Claregalway, County Galway.

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