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Botanical Illustrations of Fruit for Jersey Post

I love doing botanical illustrations of fruit, so when Jersey Post commissioned a series of “Fruits and Berries” for a postage stamp issue I was delighted.

The fruits and berries that needed illustrating were the Dewberry Rubus caesius, the Elderberry Sambucus nigra, the Wild strawberry Fragaria vesca, the Jersey bramble Rubus caesarius, Sloes Prunus spinosa, and Black bryony Dioscorea communis.

All the botanical illustrations in this blog are copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017, and must not be reproduced without their express permission.

Sloes artwork for one of the stamps                                copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

This commission gave me the chance to wander the countryside around Hay-on-Wye, gathering specimens to paint; luckily the job came in during the autumn months!

Desk whilst illustrating the Dewberry stamp artwork

I also illustrated a First Day cover (an illustration for the corner of the First Day Cover envelope); this was a sprig of Hawthorn berries Crataegus monogyna.

Hawthorn berries; botanical illustration for the First Day Cover of Jersey Post’s stamp issue-copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

Here’s a detail of some of the wonderfully prolific and vibrant red berries this sprig of Hawthorn carried.

 

Detail of Hawthorn berries                                              copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

Illustrating Black Bryony

One of the plants I painted was the Black bryony.  You often see the startling orange berries of this plant in hedgerows.  It was important to show the variation in berry colour; green through yellow to an orange red.  I also had a lot of fun with the tendrils that this plant grows.  I love using these to help when composing an illustration.

As always, painting the leaves began with a layer of tiny paint marks, building up and marking the areas of dark.

Painting the first layer of green on a Black bryony leaf copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

Next, I put a yellower and more dilute mix of green over the entire leaf.  I use Winsor and Newton paints, and a Winsor and Newton series 7 paintbrush.

Brighter green wet wash applied to the leaf.  Copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

The angled stems and tendrils get plotted in next.  As always I leave the fun berries to the end.

Painting in stems and tendrils of Black bryony                   copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

The berries needed to look bright and smooth, so I spent a long time building up the colour with endless tiny brush strokes in orange and red, following the shape of the fruit.

Final illustration of Black bryony                                      copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

Illustrating the Elderberry

Another lovely plant was the Elderberry. I love the crimson of the stems of this plant, especially in contrast to the shiny black berries.  Getting the shine right on each berry was a challenge.

Paining each Elderberry                                                  copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

It was a tricky plant to arrange in the format of a postage stamp, and required the positioning of the leaflets behind the berries, always a difficult task.

Elderberry artwork                                                         copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

Presenting the illustrations in context

Another part of the commission is to illustrate the Presentation pack, the shiny decorated sleeve in which newly issued postage stamps can be delivered.  This features Rowan berries Sorbus aucuparia, Sloe Prunus spinosa, Bramble Rubus fruticosus, and Goji berries Lycium barbarum; all of which grow wild in Jersey.

Presentation pack with Rowan, Goji, Sloe and Bramble      copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

One of the things I like to do mid way through a job such as this, is create a mock up of the stamps to ensure they look alright as a series, and to be certain the text and images work well together.  Here is the rough of the stamp layout, an aid to the commissioners when they look at these detailed roughs and decide what feedback is required.

Layout of stamps at Colour rough stage                           Copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017

The published stamps, first day cover, and presentation pack arrived in the post just this week.  To say I am delighted with how they look once the designers have produced the issue is an understatemant, they’ve done a fabulous job with my paintings!

This job was a joy, I really love working with Jersey Post, they give interesting subjects, long lead times, and treat their artists really well – what more could an illustrator ask for?

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Lizzie Harper