[article extracted from Growing Australian, June 2001]
The Design and Painting of the Australian Bouquet
for the Federation Plate
in conjunction with Australian National Botanical Gardens Canberra
I asked Beverley Graham just how one went about painting all the state,flowers at one time, given that of course, they do not flower all at once, and secondly, no garden, I don't think, would have them all available at the one time anyway. (Or am I wrong - has anyone ever had all the state - and territories - flowers in their garden at the one time?) I had no idea just how complicated such an undertaking would be. Read on.
Beverley Graham, Caulfield South:
My brief was to depict the six Federation State floral emblems with the Australian wattle in a naturalistic composition to fit the round-circular plate. The flora should show the correct botanical detail and form, be in correct proportion to each other and have balanced colour -for completion in just over six weeks!
Fortunately, all seven flora were well known to me as 1 had previously studied them and had made detailed drawings and colour notes from live plants which I always do when a particular plant is available and these are retained in my sketch books, plus several of these plants feature in my 1/ed print range, so I have reference from original major works previously completed on hand.
To start with, I made several detailed drawings of the major parts of each of the seven flora, then traced these onto separate sheets of tracing paper with colour outline and some shading, to indicate the colour balance. To enable me to draw the flora at near to correct size. ] used a circle diameter one third larger than the plate size. The major decision problem was the placement of the waratah, this being the largest and most dominant flower, it needed special treatment as we did not want it to overshadow the other flowers. By moving the seven drawings from place to place within the circle many times, I eventually sorted out a reasonable design solution. This basic design was then drawn up on one complete tracing with graphite and watercolour. Once show to, and approved by the people at Franklin Mint, I then started the final design. This meant retracing all the major elements and putting it all together, filling in the detail, adding extra leaves, buds etc to fill in the gaps and adjust accordingly. Then the final tracing onto museum standard (archival) watercolour flexible board.
Then the real work began, to paint the completed design in full colour. I used four sable brushes, 00, 0, 1, & 2, Windsor & Newton Artist's watercolour paints. This had to be done in 8 days to meet the final deadline, long days of 10-12 hours plus the final day working until 3.30am.