Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Self Belief!

I have a beautiful display of reticulated iris beginning to burst forth in the garden, so I have been keeping my eye on them ready to do a painting. I am generally ok with specimen flower painting, but wanted to have a go at something a bit more complex, with lots of blooms growing together, in the style of the foxgloves, agapanthus, tulips etc that I have posted previously.
In order to get my head around it, I was perusing a couple of inspirational books of what the editors chose as some of the worlds best flower painters (The Best of Flower Paintings Vols 1 and 2, edited by Kathryn Kipp and Rachel Wolf respectively, published by Cassell- Northern Light Books) .Partly reading the info and partly looking at the paintings in a fairly random fashion, I was appalled to read that one artist, Airi Foote, had been curtly informed by a tutor that she had no talent! So discouraged by this remark, she gave up painting, and turned instead to gardening. She eventually decided that talent or no talent, she was going to try again and to hell with what anyone thought. She ends up in a book about  the worlds best flower painters. Although her painting is not really spectacular for me, it did make me think about how much these experts, so say, really know, how subjective enjoyment of visual images is, and how careful we have to be when talking about other peoples work.My Art Teacher at school was much more kindly and informed my parents at an annual assessment meeting, that I had trouble knowing which end of the paintbrush to use! Thank goodness that did not put me off.
 What I did like about the painting, and what caught my eye in the first place, was the combination of colours used in the leaves and background. Not colours I regularly use, so I thought, give them a go.

                                            White Roses by Airi Foote  11'' x 14''

She talks about using a combination of such colours as Permanent Rose, Winsor Violet and under painting with Aureolin Yellow to give it a glow.
I dug through my mountain of photos from my garden, and found something in a similar style to her source material and using my favourite Fabriano Extra White did the basic drawing.

This is one of my favourite roses that regularly do well in my clay soil, so I have used them quite frequently for paintings and have been pleased with the outcomes. I tried to paint with a mixture of her suggested colours and some of my favourite ones including quinacridone violet, quinacridone rust and transparent orange iron oxide, all of which are from the M Graham and Co range. These paints have a lovely texture, moist and easy to put into empty pans, where they do not dry out to any degree, and they have a lovely glow to them. They can be quite staining, so cannot easily be lifted if used in the concentrated form, but I love them.
I did try to keep away from too much traditional green in the leaves and I tried to keep my background lighter than I might normally paint around white flowers and the result is ok.

In hindsight, I would have changed the composition slightly and had a couple of the flowers overlapping to make the painting hang together better, but nothing I can do about that now,what is done is done!

                                           'White Roses' Watercolour on Fabriano Extra White
                                           paper. 9'' x 13''

I hope that the use of Airi's work from this book comes under the heading of 'Review' and conforms to the 'brief passages' that any reviewer is allowed to use.


  1. Very interesting post Yvonne and excellent painting as usual.

  2. Thank you Peter. I am always a bit concerned that the pictures of my work look a bit contrasty. I scan then into Photoshop and then adjust them but still not happy. I have a new camera so will try taking and downloading a picture to see if that works better.