Welcome to Nature Uncovered

country_year_CVR_RGBThis is the cover for An Illustrated Country Year

To see books and art by Celia Lewis, click here for the official website.

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Butterflies on vellum

A few butterflies around at last, here are four of the commonest: Peacock, Tortoishell, Painted Lady and Red Admiral.  The caterpillars of these four all feed on nettles so leave a little patch for them in your garden.  I’ve painted them in watercolour on vellum and they are life size.  Available framed from my website www.celialewis.co.uk

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Little birds on vellum

I’ve been working hard at a collection of small English birds on calfskin vellum – here are a few for your delectation.  A Coletit, a Robin and a Wren

coletit vell copyrobinvell copyvellum copy

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Painting on vellum

My final week of my botanical art course and we attempted painting on vellum.

 

Vellum is derived from the Latin word ‘vitulinum’ meaning ‘made from calf’ and is in fact cleaned, bleached, stretched and scraped calf or goat skin. Preparing the vellum is a lengthy and skillful process but once achieved it is smooth and durable. The two sides of the skin are distinct: the inside and the outside or hair side. Look carefully and you can still see the hair follicles.

 

Painting on vellum is a different technique – when using watercolour, instead of using water you make your paint as dry as possible and use a tiny brush – paintstaking is the word. As you can imagine, vellum is very expensive so below are three paintings on bits of vellum 4” x 4”.

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Pressing flowers

 

Its fun to see how many wild flowers you can find in your locality – I have reached 150 over the summer with one visit to the Suffolk coast and one to Wiltshire.  A good way of learning wild flower names and what family they are is to press them.  You can do this by simply putting them between sheets of blotting paper or newspaper and weighting them down for a couple of weeks.  I am impatient and I use a wonderful little gadget called a Microfleur into which you place your flowers and then pop it in the microwave for 1 minute – hey presto, the flowers are pressed and ready to stick in your book.  Here are a few pages from my pressed flower album:

pressed floweers1

pressed floweers2

pressed floweers3

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Animals on block print – Giraffe

I’ve been enjoying a break from Botanical Art and instead painting animals in acrylic on paper that I have block printed  or printed with linocuts.  Here is a giraffe – this painting is currently at the lovely Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey.  www.theweygallery.com 

giraffe on blue copy

 

 

I have two more bits of paper ready to go – possibly a cow on the blue one and a pig on the grey – we’ll see what evolves:

backgrounds1 copybackgrounds2 copy

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A day at a Letterpress workshop

I recently spent a day learning all about relief printing using a press – known as Letterpress.  This was the original and oldest form of printing and involves setting out your text letter by letter.  This you do upside down and back to front – confusing at first.  The type comes in all sorts of styles and sizes, the largest letters made of wood and smaller ones of metal.  There is something infinitely satisfying getting everything to fit together and then actually printing it – here is what I did (the flowers I painted on later)

printing

 

The workshop was held at Mr Smith’s Letterpress in Kennington (www.smithsrules.com) and here is  Mr Smith at work:

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Some of the typeface and spacers to choose from:

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A selection of tulips

A visit to Dunsborough Park in Ripley, which has the most amazing collection of tulips inspired this painting, which was completed using a restricted palette of Schmincke watercolours as an exercise for my botanical art course.  Tulips are just the most lovely things to paint – I particularly enjoy trying to capture the shiny petals.

tulips Duns2 copy

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