Eva commenced a 12 month Residency as Artist-in-Residence at Brisbane Botanic Gardens in February 2018 which has been a unique opportunity to engage with the flora and fauna of the Gardens.
With a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in law from Cambridge University in the UK, Eva spent nearly two decades practising law before retiring to focus on her artistic career.
A member of the Botanical Artists' Society of Queensland since 2014, Eva took art courses at Oxford Brookes University (UK) and the Brisbane Institute of Art before specialising in botanical art. She has studied under leading international botanical artist and judge, Leonie Norton, and exhibited in group and solo exhibitions.
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Most of the artwork produced during the Residency has been stippled ink, mainly onto Clayboard, which consists of a wood panel coated with a kaolin clay ground similar to the clay gesso panels of the Renaissance, which has been sanded to an ultra-smooth finish.
Eva works with a 0.10mm technical pen to produce minutely small dots. This technique also dates back to the Renaissance and became popular for medical and botanical illustration because it replicates well in the printing process as well as producing highly detailed results. In botanical art stippling produces light or dark shading depending on the density of dots in an area, as well as creating detailed textural effects. Eva usually lays down a light graphite underdrawing for areas of shade.
The use of minute dots invites the viewer to more closely engage with the subject matter but they have a symbolic meaning too. Each piece represents a snapshot of a moment or an idea that had its time and will never be repeated and the dots symbolise the continuous dispersal and coalescence of carbon atoms in all life forms during the endless cycle of entropy and life.
WATERCOLOUR ON VELLUM
Eva Richards is one of only a few botanical artists in Australia working on calfskin 'Kelmscott' vellum, a non-absorbent skin parchment that is a technically challenging surface on which to work but which provides incomparable luminosity and the rendering of fine detail. Most medieval manuscripts were written and illustrated on vellum.
Painting on vellum requires, as with all botanical painting, a detailed preliminary drawing which Eva does on tracing paper. All compositional problems are worked out in full before transferring a light outline onto vellum (which is not only expensive but needs delicate handling).
Eva paints with very small brushes and translucent watercolour paints which are layered over each other. Vellum, unlike paper, does not absorb paint, rather the paint dries and sits on the surface. Great care is required not to disturb underlying layers when glazing on more paint to create the intensity of colour desired.
METALPOINT ON BOARD
'Metalpoint' or 'Silverpoint' is a traditional drawing technique pre-dating the use of graphite pencils. Eva draws with 24kt gold and sterling silver held in clutch pencils (with some ink or watercolour stippling) on specially prepared 'clayboard', which is similar to the gessoed panels of the Renaissance.
Gold and silver drawings cannot be blended or erased, unlike graphite, but allow for much more delicate detail, intense shadows and catch the light with a golden sheen. 24kt gold does not change colour after being laid down and forms the basis of most of Eva's drawing, which is then supplemented with areas of sterling silver which is allowed to tarnish and form warm dark shade.
GRAPHITE ON DRAFTING FILM
Drafting film is a modern polymer. Almost completely smooth and semi-transparent it allows for fine detail with pencil but with little 'tooth' depth of tonality can be hard to achieve. Working both sides of the film creates a three dimensionality that is unavailable on paper.