Columbus area artists and photographers know that Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a great place for inspiration and subject matter. There are always spectacular floral displays just waiting to be sketched and painted. Visitors may see members of Urban Sketchers working among the displays on a Sunday afternoon, or photographers snapping away at the Blooms & Butterflies. When Mark was busy photographing on a recent visit, a couple approached and asked me why there were photographers all around. Was it a special photography event, they wondered? No, it’s just an especially good place to find beautiful things to photograph, I told them.
I’ve done several watercolors from both photographs and sketches I captured at FPC. The painting above was inspired by the conservatory’s orchid display. I find it works best for me if I have both a photograph and a sketch from which to work when I compose a painting. The photo helps me remember the colors and details, while the sketch helps me with values and forms. I often make a couple more preliminary sketches before settling on the composition I intend to paint.
Conservatory staff are very accommodating to artists and photographers. Tripods are even permitted when they are not blocking traffic in the biomes or causing any other difficulties for fellow visitors. Painters can also take classes there. Watercolor classes planned for May include Watercolor Intensive for Fairies of Cicely and Watercolor Fairy Gardens. The focus on Fairy Gardens comes from the imaginative fairy gardens that are currently on display in the Dorothy M. Davis Showhouse. If watercolor is something you’d like to try, this would be the perfect opportunity. A nice set to get started with is Winsor & Newton Professional Water Color Compact Set. You will be much happier with the results if you start out with good quality colors and brushes. I also like Watercolor Block, Cold Press 9″X12″ paper.
You don’t have to attend classes in person. There are plenty of excellent watercolor instructional videos that can help you get started with good results from the beginning. Why not give it a try?