We have been getting some decent weather of late, even though it has got colder. On Saturday it was still warm enough to get on the bike and do some more outdoor painting. My plan was to attempt more complex subjects – subjects I would normally attempt in the studio. The one above is of a small bridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the counterchanges from light to dark and back again. In the end I had to to the railings in gouache when I got home – as I didnt take any with me. Whilst the gouache was out I added some stalks and grasses on the near bank. Despite the austere subject it made an interesting painting and might be worth doing bigger.
The next subject was daffodils in a small coppice. The flowers were away from the trees, but I wanted to use the darker trunks as a foil for the flowers. Normally I would use masking fluid, but outside, without any, I had to work around the flowerheads. I find daffodils difficult at the best of times because the yellow isnt a very imposing colour. In hindsight I should have pushed the flowers back further against the trees and used the contrast for all it was worth and, at the same time, reduced the complexity of the background – but that is what sketching is about – working out the best options.
Whilst I sat working on this picture, at the edge of the wood, a hare came slowly towards me. It got to within about 5 feet. I wanted to photograph it, but reaching for the camera would have disturbed it. In the end it realised I was there and bolted off into the woods.
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.
Using the backs of old paintings I wanted to try and create textured watercolour abstracts that avoided the washed out look that results when working with copious amounts of water to create movement and texture.
I had the notion of rusty metal when I selected the colours for this one. Perhaps more contrasting tones and depth could be achieved by adding even more pigment to specific areas – which was the method I applied to reduce the washed out look I described above in all these sketches.
Well, figuration had to creep in with my background and the ethereal rising of lighter tones hinted, for me, at some spiritual mumbo jumbo, so a few figures were cut into the patterns.
And representation made further inroads in this final piece.
All have the seeds for further development and I will stow them away in my sketch book for future reference. It was nice to play aimlessly and see what developed for once. The main purpose was to maintain a good range of tonality amid splashing and spraying and I think I see how I can achieve this.
I bought some daffodils for the house and later, whilst cleaning, stood the vase on a worktop in front of a window and thought that it might make an uplifting painting.
I decided to crop the flowers to give the feeling of them bursting out and filling the frame. As usual I had a tussle with shading the yellows and I had hoped to get petal shapes in the background by creating some negative shapes, well, I tried, but I did manage to get a little movement there that, I think, adds to the energy.
Having just got back from New Zealand and Australia I realise that one person’s spring is another’s autumn. But for me the excitement of spring is almost palpable, watching the garden burst into flower and blossom.
I wanted to try this painting again, having sold a copy, which is on my website grahammcquadefineart.com. I wanted to get the mass of flowers looser and less defined without losing the identity of daffodils. However, it seems my old pedantic self regained the upper hand and although a little looser I couldnt fully shake free.
Maybe the change will be slower than I thought.