I am often asked where I get my ideas and how I do the actual drawing on the silk. My ideas come from what I see around me and from inside my head! I always carry a sketch pad with me in case I think of something or see something I would like to put on silk. When I have a custom order to do I will sketch out a small drawing on my pad and will refer to it (sometimes) when applying the gutta (AKA resist) on the silk.
Because a large amount of my work has Costa Rican wildlife depicted, to confirm, for example, the colors of foliage, feathers or fur, or to make sure I have the size of a bird’s beak correct, I use my collection of Costa Rican nature and wildlife books, some of which I have listed below and recommend, or I look up images on Google. These books are all “dog eared” from decades of looking up species I have seen around the country, but also as my helpers while drawing and painting.
Though I do paint species of plants and flowers from Costa Rica on my silks, I do not always paint them “botanically correct”. Hibiscus leaves will always be with hibiscus flowers, but the leaves may be gold, yellow, green or whatever color I decide to paint. One of my most popular shawls was filled with banana leaves in the colors of Easter (pinks, yellows, peach, lavender), definitely not botanically correct, but great fun.
I enjoy creating the drawings on the silk “freehand”, however, at one point I took several small sketches I had done and had them super enlarged with the idea of tracing them onto the silk, but that didn’t do it for me. I much prefer to start with a blank silk and my little bottle of gutta. Even when I have a sketch done, it is just a reference, the final product always ends up very different, and much better than I had envisioned while sketching.
Recommended Costa Rica WildLife Books
Whether you are looking for inspiration for your own art or are really into the Costa Rican wildlife, I strongly suggest the following Costa Rican wildlife books.
- A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch
- A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico by Fiona A. Reid
- Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama by Robert L. Dressler
- The Butterflies of Costa Rica and their Natural History (volumes 1 and 2) by Philip J. De Vries
- The EcoTravellers’ Wildlife Guide: Costa Rica by Les Beletsky