I have painted poppies before, and some might say too often, but spotting the setting sun on the oriental poppies in my garden drove me to having another go. It was only towards the end of the painting that I realised that the stars of the show aren’t the gaudy flowers but the tousled mass of spikey leaves that snatch the attention away from the flowerheads.
In the past I have been taken by the sculptural forms of leaves in strong light but have felt that they wouln’t make a good painting – clearly I must take another look.
Climbing a hill, last year, I saw this ragged clump of thistles about to shed their seeds over the fields. I love the way the thistle down glows in the sunlight and this is enhanced against the darkness of the distant trees.
At last I committed the recent ink and wash sketches to canvas. From all the sketches, I had an idea of what I wanted to try, but the new surface created a different rheology with both the ink and the paint. The paper I used for the sketches seemed to draw the ink from the dropper allowing for extended lines. This didnt happen on the gessoed canvas and it was hard work creating the flowing lines that I wanted. Splattering the line work with water created far more diffuse effects than I had previously experienced, mainly because the ink sat on the surface and then reacted more dynamically to the water. And before that, the underpainting took a lot of effort to control, particularly on a more extensive surface, so from the start, the colour fields I had wanted were quickly abandoned in the pursuit of simply avoiding mud.
So I finished with this breathless piece which took on a horticultural demeanour as I struggled to control the paint – like herding cats, though at least I wasnt scratched or bitten in the process.
As a corollary to the previous post on autumn, here’s one of spring with its clamouring surge. It started in some watercolour doodlings I posted a week ago and I liked the pose of the lower daffodil so thought I would do a quarter imperial painting and see how it came out – though I prefer my first version of the bottom daffodil – always a peril when repainting a subject. I have tackled this approach a long time ago, though it didn’t turn out as punchy as this one.
Looking at it as I write, the mass of blooms at the top remind me of a flock of hungry seagulls scrapping over scattered bread. OK, in my world seagulls can come in yellow.
Outside our house, along the road, are sycamore trees and against a bright blue sky they recently displayed a vitality I felt compelled to capture in paint. They looked good, despite the problem of all the seeds that come down with the leaves, leaving me with a year-long task of uprooting seedlings as they emerge.
Now, after a few autumn gales, the title should be Fell – but the display was good whilst it lasted, though I notice bunches of seed heads still hanging onto the otherwise bare trees, taunting me with their presence.
A birthday card for someone special. Painting cards for family and friends can be like making a rod for you own back. When one is seen you get oblique and blatant requests for more – even my daughter complained about being left out and she doesnt even like the stuff I produce – funny old world. These days I am not doing as many, so there is less pressure. This one is of the begonias currently flowering on my decking.
I presented this as a sketch in April and the sketch has been floating around in my studio since then. As an inveterate fiddler it was only time before I had another go. I wanted to break up and explain the background better and pay more attention to the reflected light and give more deference to my wife`s flower arranging. At least this time its not on the back of another painting , which for me, is a step forward.
I have been lethargic of late and this was an attempt to break the cycle. I wanted to do a loose painting of a jugful of flowers my wife had gathered from the garden.
It started loose but became tighter as I played around with the lights and shadows. I think this approach works well with large blooms such as the camellias, but the daisies and other small flowers broke the rhythm and had me scratching around and tightening up.
Having completed the exercise I can see where improvements in technique can be made. Now, I just need to break the lethargy…
This has been through a number of iterations and may go through a few more yet. I just cant get the saturation of colour I was after in the reds and purples. I am considering going over it in oil paint though I will leave it for a while now and reflect.
I made the frame a while ago and love the shape. I have done a number of these non-standard shapes and may make some more in the future.
So on with the second of my demonstration pieces for next week, which I mentioned in my previous blog. For this one the client wanted a floral painting so I selected this subject as I had already demonstrated it last year and it seemed to go well. It incorporates a big wash with a lot of colour mixing on the paper and good interplay of light and dark.
On my first attempt below I felt the arrangement of flowers was too tight and for the second one (top) I brought in some chromium yellow to the centre to help bring out the purple blues of the flowers.
So there is a lot apparently going on with a few washes and hopefully the interplay between light and dark sets a rhythm going.