Kew Gardens (Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Sussex, England) is a beautiful park which houses the largest collection of living plants in the world. The beginnings of this collection were from species brought back by the famous naturalist and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks when he traveled with Captain Cook on his first round the world voyage. If you want to add to the magic of the story, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things” for a wonderful historical fiction on the beginnings of Kew and beyond.
My last visit to England was in March during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. The steamy greenhouses were an especially welcome solace during the still freezing early spring. The palm house is the largest iron and glass structure in the world with ornate Victorian lines that conjure images of decked out ladies with parasols strolling and sketching.
Signs of spring were everywhere. The crocus bulbs exploded from the ground like a colorful carpet surrounded by newly green grass. Though I am no plant expert, I love the beautiful shapes and smells of plants and trees as an inspiration for patterns and color. Kew is a wonderful escape and an interesting slice of history. It’s an easy train ride from London for when you need an urban respite!
I started with brushing acrylic gel medium on the white paper and letting it dry before painting. This gives the paper an interesting texture to start with and gives it some dimension too. It can also act as a mask to preserve layers of paint underneath it. The paint on the layers above will not be repelled but it wipes away more easily to reveal what’s below.
You can see how the brush strokes are a bit exaggerated by the gel medium. I let this layer dry completely before I painted the flowers too. I like to scan these textures in before I paint on them further in order to build a library to work with for digital projects too.