View Full Version : Interesting Things I am pondering

Rabbit Child
02-03-2011, 03:32 PM
Hello, everyone,

Just sharing my thoughts....

I have been lurking this site for at least two years, and although I am a very very busy 2nd grade teacher, I know I shouldn't use my career as an excuse for not posting here or painting as much as I like. Sigh.... :)

However, I have been out of school for three days now, as the ice storm that hit North Texas Monday night has kept everyone cooped up. I so enjoy reading all the wonderful information on this site, and one day I'll be brave enough to post some paintings. Mainly today, I just wanted to talk about something that has been really inspiring for me, and perhaps, if you are bored, it might be something worth reading. :)

I have had a hard time making decisions about what direction I want to go in watercolor painting, so I've tried just about everything, and had lots of fun. I think right now I'm leaning towards doing small paintings and sketches in my watercolor journal, rather than larger paintings for the wall. I've never drawn much in my life, so I'm rather like a child right now, just exploring sketching and painting and having a great time.

My aunt thought I'd be interested in a movie from 2006 entitled "Miss Potter", which I rented and LOVED. I've watched it several times. It is about Beatrix Potter's life, and includes her Peter Rabbit book illustrations. On the DVD is a bonus selection entitled "The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter" and I was fascinated. It introduced me to her art and works and other things in her life I didn't know about and now I'm inspired to find out more about her and her watercolors, and I'd like to move in the direction of writing and illustrating myself.

One thing that I didn't realize (but I'm SURE all of you already know) is how much learning how to paint realistically can help with story illustrations, no matter how fantastical they are. I know artists are inspired by nature and by real things, even if their paintings are fairies or dragons or bunnies having tea, but I didn't realize how much studying realism helped in developing these kinds of compositions. Very cool.

In seeing this short segment on the DVD, the re-creations of Beatrix Potter at her easel were most likely created using paints and palettes that we use today, and I wonder if anyone knows or would want to speculate on the paints and palettes she must have used back then in the late 1800s. It would be interesting to find out. I haven't done any searches online yet...today I am just excited about sharing my enthusiasm...not sure if anyone else is even interested! :)

My paintings (illustrations) don't look half as good as Beatrix's did when she was 9 years old, but I consider myself in my infancy of painting, so I'll just continue and see what develops. I would love to learn more about composition so that I can draw and paint a variety of animals doing all sorts of storybook things, but I will start with realism, as it seems it will give me advantages when it comes time to build characters.

If you read this far, thanks! I hope to be able to post again soon.

Jana (aka Rabbit Child)

02-03-2011, 03:49 PM
hello & welcome to WC. :wave:

Everyone here is very helpful. Don't be afraid to post some of your work. We all had to start somewhere. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your art journal when you post it.

While I can appreciate good realism in art, I can't give any advise on painting in a realistic style because that is very far from the style of painting I do. I would suggest that you participate in this month's Watercolor class on Composition. You can read all about it here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=879722).

02-03-2011, 04:01 PM
Hi Jana,
Welcome to the Watercolor Forum.

I saw the Beatrix Potter film a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it too. I also like her style of painting just as you do. I can't answer your questions about the types of materials she would have had available, but I'm sure someone will come along who can soon.

I hope you'll feel free to show us your work soon. You'll find the people here to be warm, welcoming, and helpful (when you need it).


02-03-2011, 04:01 PM
Hey Jana, your enthusiasm is what is catching! Also seeing how you’re a teacher, please don’t grade me to harshly concerning my grammar and spelling….

I too saw that movie, but don’t have any idea of what she might have used. What I wanted to share with you is a belief that in this time and age in which we live, do not let your belief that you cannot draw hold you back. There are too many tools you can use to get an “outline” on paper to paint. Create drawings, copy drawings of others, trace and before you know it, you will be drawing. Also post here, these are some of the most giving spirits I have ever run into in my wanderings on the internet.

Many of my friends tell me after seeing one of my drawings that they can’t even draw a “straight” line, I tell them use a ruler……:wink2:

02-03-2011, 04:21 PM
Hi Jana, welcome out of "lurkdom".

I saw a Rowney antique palette on the Winslow-Homer blog (http://channeling-winslow-homer.com/) the other day. This would be typical I think of the palette use by Beatrice Potter.

Here's another I spotted at Dundurn Castle hamilton Ontario last summer.



02-03-2011, 04:22 PM
That was a WONDERFUL movie; I LOVED it. I believe she would have used watercolor paints and most likely ink and wash. Perhaps some pastels too.

WELCOME to this forum and jump right in and get yourself wet! A couple of years is MUCH TOO LONG to let us know about you. Glad you had a few days off from teaching and I do hope you'll post some of your work soon.

02-03-2011, 04:26 PM
Welcome, Jana, keep drawing, it's a great foundation!

02-03-2011, 04:44 PM
I am not too familiar with Mrs. Potter's work...though I like what I have seen. I will endeavor to check out the film (love bio films) But here is why I'm replying.

I found this site that makes/sells reproduction paints of classic watercolorists (made with the ingredients/pigments of 19 century palettes). Here is a link http://www.naturalpigments.com (http://www.naturalpigments.com/). I find this type of stuff very cool and I might check some out myself sometime when I have some happy cash to spare.

Be well and paint away, Mark

virgil carter
02-03-2011, 08:00 PM
Hi Jana! My daughter is also a second grade teacher in the Hill Country (Comfort, TX) and emailed us about the same weather challenges. It's been quite a year, hasn't it?

Stick with your watercolors. It's a wonderful world, with something for everyone! That's like Wet Canvas, which is a diverse world of wonderful people with amazing experiences.

Keep painting!

02-03-2011, 08:30 PM
Wow, I just read a book where the author talked about how Beatrix Potter inspired her. I believe the name was Painting Miniatures by Elizabeth Davys Wood. I can't swear that this is the book it came from, but I think it was, as it was a library book and I've been reading dozens these past few months.

But I did write down the colors she said Beatrix used and how she layered them, because they sounded so pretty!

She said she used Yellow Ochre as an all over wash, for the lights, and left some parts unpainted. (I'm typing this as I wrote it in my notebook)
Then for the second layer, Cerulean Blue.
Then the third layer, a glaze of "Warm Red".

Then details and hightlights of color last.

Hatching (tiny lines) follwing the form ...
And finally : "don't work in sections, maintain the whole".

I hope this helps. Sorry the notes are so lacking, but you get the idea of the colors she used, at least.
-Irene H

Peanut Butter
02-03-2011, 10:07 PM
Hi Jana! I'm in N Texas, too! Crazy weather we're having, isn't it? I love Beatrix Potter, but haven't seen that movie yet. I think I'll have to check it out!

02-04-2011, 08:57 AM
I saw the movie about Beatrix Potter also and absolutely loved it.

It's what got me interested in trying painting about 4 years ago. I gave watercolors a brief try and gave up because I thought they were too difficult, but knowing that watercolors were what I wanted to learn.

So I worked with acrylics for about 3 years until I got brave enough to give watercolors another try. I am so happy that I did. I love watercolors.

I am grateful to the movie for inspiring me to pick up a paint brush... I am 65 years old and had never painted in my life. Now I have a wonderful hobby that I will enjoy for the rest of my days..

Thanks for the reminder.... I need to watch the movie again..... Renee Zellweger did a terrific acting job......

02-04-2011, 09:10 AM

Thanks for the info on the Beatrice Potter movie. I haven't seen it yet. I have a feeling that many of us were influenced by wonderful children's book illustrators, that often used watercolor as their medium. I really like those Peter Rabbit book illustrations too.


02-04-2011, 10:17 AM
I recommend it Tom, the scenery in the Lake District is wonderful and there is a tantalising glance at her antique watercolour box. Rene Zelwegger plays an excellent part.


02-04-2011, 10:34 AM
The National trust, in England, holds the Beatrix Potter collection which includes a paint box belonging to Beatrix’s mother, Helen Leech, and possibly used by Beatrix herself but I can find no photos of it...

Here are a couple of stills showing how Hollywood envisages the method used by the great lady - who would, no doubt, have been mortified having once rejected Walt Disney's request to immortalise her characters!


And this image from the book "Beatrix Potter: A Journal" may (or may not) show her actual paint box:


This web site (http://www.koyolitetseila.com/rubrique,miss-potter,532934.html) (in French) is very interesting. Below is a bad on-line translation:

Biography of Beatrix Potter, author of Pierre Rabbit (Peter Rabbit):

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was a naturalist in England victorienne, before being the author universally known of books for children.

It was born in London in a family from the upper middle class enriched by the trade by cotton. In this end of XIXe century, the children of the good company have only few contacts with their parents. They high with the variation of the world by controlling and quickly are sent in pension. Small Helen Beatrix suffers from a deep loneliness, hardly filled by an environment favourable with the artistic activities.

His/her father is a photo hobbyist, set on art, which takes along his/her daughter and her Bertram son to the exposures of Royal Academy. The painter préraphaélite John Millais is a family friend. Beatrix is literally in worship in front of its Ophelia table which is in its eyes “most marvellous painting of the world”.

The summer months, the family settles in Wray Castle, close to Ambleside, the country of the lakes, in the north of England. It is a true paradise for the young girl who misleads her trouble thanks to the frantic study of nature: herbarium, collection of fossils or insects. All is good for him to look further into its scientific knowledge. It is also in Wray Castle that it makes the meeting, determining, of the vicar Hardwicke Rawnsley. This large in love with the lakes militates for environmental protection and will found in 1895 the National Trust. He encourages his taste of the drawing naturalist and the growth to attend British Museum.

Beatrix is impassioned for mycology. During years, it collects specimens, dissects them, draws them in depth and develops soon a theory on the propagation of the lichens. Supported by his uncle, the chemist Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe, it presents his research to the botanists of the royal Botanical gardens of Kew. To no purpose. It is victim of the ostracism of a scientific community which does not forgive him to be a woman and relegates it to the row of amateur. Cold comfort: Linnaean Society off London agrees to reveal its work at the time of a conference to which, roof of the irony, it will not have, as a woman, the right to assist.

In 1890, on the council of one of her friends, Canon Rawnsley, it creates starting from its drawings of animals and plants its first greetings cards which, with its great surprise, are bought by Hildesheimer & Faulkner in Germany. At the same time, the son of his controlling catches the scarlet fever. To accompany its convalescence, Beatrix composes the history to him of four small named rabbits Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.

It will have to be waited seven years so that this original history is packed and becomes a true work illustrated in black and white. No editor seems interested. In front of refusal successive and sometimes scorning, Beatrix Potter chooses to publish itself a collection which she wishes different from the children's books of the time, not very handy. She chooses a small size (15 cm), a paper resisting and, especially, of the illustrations on each page. Two assets differentiate them from the traditional publications: the anthropomorphism of its characters is counterbalanced by the anatomical precision of its feature. Its rabbits resemble rabbits with the hair near and act like such. Their relationship with the human ones is never edulcorated. Thus, the father of Peter Rabbit finishes his days in a torta cooked by Mrs McGregor. Its requirement of the word right: convinced that the children are sensitive to the words which they learn, it always refused to replace a term, however difficult is he, by another, simpler but the least precise.

This first pulling of 250 specimens is a real success. Conan Doyle itself buys some for his/her children. Three months later, Peter Rabbit is republished with 250 specimens. Frederick Warne & Co., one of the editors who had previously refused it, agrees to publish Peter Rabbit with illustrations colors. In 1902, the book appears and, in the summer of the same year, the first “pirate” copies circulate in the United States.
Beatrix Potter is 36 years old, always lives in his/her parents, but earns his living for the first time. The ten years which follow will see the birth of 23 albums. The family of Peter Rabbit increases: Jeremy Fisher the Clamping plate, Cecily Parsley, Moppet Misses and well of others evolve/move in an often cruel universe, whereas their author, recognized, is delivered little by little heavy supervision of his parents.

In 1913, its marriage with William Heelis signs the stop of its literary career. Mrs Heelis is a woman different from the Potter young person. At 47 years, liked, accompanied by a man who shares his love of nature, it does not need more its paper universe to furnish its loneliness. It gives up Peter Rabbit gradually to devote itself, with her husband, with the rural life and the breeding of the sheep.

With its death, on December 22, 1943, it leaves with the National Trust 14 farms, 4.000 acres (16 km ²) of ground, its herds of Herdwick sheep and, of course, its rabbits, which, affirmed she, were the descendants of the true Peter Rabbit.

I'm pretty sure Miss Potter would have very much disliked being referred to as "It", also. Sorry about that HB...


02-04-2011, 11:51 AM
Hi Jana... welcome (at last) to the Forum... Please don't be afraid to post your paintings here as we welcome everyone's creative musings!! One of the neat things about journalling, or painting little studies is the freedom we feel in just *playing*...

I have seen the movie a couple of times. Her deep grief from the death of her fiancé about broke my own heart! I hope that the movie was true to her life because I enjoyed her feisty approach to those who looked down their noses at her... and her forthright environmentalist approach to her lands...

This Site (http://www.ortakales.com/Illustrators/Potter.html) offers a bit of information about her artwork... and I'm a little shocked that she might have used a little white oil paint (if indeed she did) to recapture lost highlights...

Thanks for starting this thread... it's been fun to read!

02-04-2011, 02:13 PM
Nice link Char!
I once got to see Beatrix Potter's original sketches at the Pierpont Morgan library and museum in NYC, some thirty years ago.
So they are circulating out there somewhere.

-Irene H

02-06-2011, 11:03 AM
Glad to see more Texans here. Welcome! I have loads of friends and family in North Texas..... Corinth, Dallas, Denton, Grapevine, Sherman & Denison. Have a nephew who is the defensive co-ordinator for Denton Guyer...

This discussion has made me determined to see the Beatrix Potter movie. I've always loved her art.

Glad I jumped in here today......



02-06-2011, 11:13 AM
Hi Emilie, I recommend it.:wave:


02-06-2011, 11:15 AM
Please show us some of your art work. We were all new at one time.
I got that movie downloaded so I will watch it this week. Also something about her art work. I'll let you know what it is when I have time to watch it as well.
Welcome and do join in more.