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The perennial peavine, Lathyrus latifolius, is closely related to the annual sweet pea that is a favorite plant in many gardens.  I received my plants as seeds from my mom and I’ve always loved the little tendrils that curl and clasp anything in their reach.  One year a praying mantis took up residence in my tangle of vines and blended in amazingly well.  I knew that bumble bees pollinated the vine but wasn’t sure what else the mantis would find to eat.  After observing the vine over several weeks, I noticed several butterflies feeding on it as well as Japanese beetles and various flies…plenty of food apparently, as the mantis stayed there for quite some time.

I thought that this plant would make a nice subject for my series, Brought to Life, and that you might like to see the stages as I progressed.  I chose a smooth cradled gesso board to paint on and sealed and painted the sides white.  Then I painted several layers of color (using acrylics), followed by several thin layers of a beige type color.  I like how the colors beneath show through and make the background subtly interesting.

 

Background 1 © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Background Step 1
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Background 2 © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Background Step 2
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Background 3

Background Step 3

The next step is to transfer my drawing of a dissected flower and ink it in with sepia ink.  I used a traditional ink pen and nib so that I could get some variation in the line width.

Peavine dissection © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Peavine dissection
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Inked in sketch © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Inked in sketch
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

A piece of tracing paper is put over the inked drawing and then the rest of the vines and flowers are sketched in, making sure not to cover too much of the ink drawing.

Tracing paper sketch © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Tracing paper sketch
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Sketch transferred © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Sketch transferred
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

I decide which vines and flowers I want to come forward and put 1-3 layers of white acrylic on them.

First layer of paint © 2014 Karen A Johnson

First layer of paint
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Then comes the fun part of bringing them to life!  Enjoy!

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