This post describes the inspiration and the development of this painting. It is inspired by a ‘mind opening’ herbalist recipe I came across in the wonderful book ‘The Magic of Herbs’ by David Conway. The recipe is called ‘Aura Suavis’, meaning sweet air and is for a potion made from Bindweed, Vervain and Valerian – for my composition I added Opium Poppy which also has mind-opening properties. This is an acrylic painting on aluminium, size 60x60cm. It is my first completed painting in a new body of work exploring plants, magic and medicine.
In order to create the composition I gathered visual material of the plants included to use as references. Below you can see the Bindweed I used, growing in a Fife hedgerow, the circle of Bindweed I made at the studio and photographed, and a watercolour sketch I made of it to help me understand it better.
At The Herbalist’s Garden , Kirriemuir, I was able to study Vervain, Opium Poppies and Valerian. I also grew Vervain in my own garden thanks to a seedling plant from Terril Dobson, the creator of The Herbalist Garden. You can see images below.
In developing my ideas for my composition I worked first of all on paper in watercolour and acrylic.
I then went on to create the final painting working with glazes of acrylic paint on an anodized aluminium panel. You can see below some images illustrating how the painting evolved as I added in different flowers.