Friday, 30 March 2012

Poppies Collage

After the attempts with the smaller flower parts of the delphiniums ( see earlier post ) I thought I would have a go at some big blousy blooms, to see if the process worked just as well. With big flowers, there is less scope for such a loose piece of work, as you cannot cut around the small component parts and scatter them in places on the finished painting, nor can you leave out part flowers so easily as you can when a flower spike consists of lots of smaller elements.
The process was exactly the same as before, Paint the background, paint a second piece of paper for the flowers and put the two together. This time I was more specific with the background and masked out a row of birch-like trees in the upper part of the paper and then painted greens towards the top and red/yellow mixes in the lower half.. Again, I used Apatite green mixed with some Pthalo Blue at the top, and Pyroll Red and Indian Yellow and Pthalo Blue lower down. I let it all thoroughly dry whilst painting the random red/oranges on the second sheet for the poppies.

I painted the trees in quite traditional colors, gave some attention to the foliage of the trees, and then using the second piece of paper, as before, drew and cut out the poppy shapes. I attached these to the background, taking care that no glue oozed out the sides, as this gives a shiny patch on the painting.

If you look closely at the poppies you might notice that whilst the paper was wet, I covered it with clingfilm to give the petals some texture. It seemed a good idea at the time, but when the poppies were over painted the texture tended to disappear. However, it is something I will try again.I deliberately stuck the poppy shapes across the division between trees and field, as I was not sure how I could deal with the dividing line without spoiling some of the painting. At this point, it seemed to work ok.
Then it was just a case of painting the poppies and adding the foreground detail. Half way through this part of the process, I thought that the two top poppies were in too much of a straight line, so I painted and cut out a seed head ( one of the joys of collage is that you can add as you go along ) and stuck it between the two poppies to give a variation in height.

                                                        Watercolour on Fabriano Extra
                                                        White 300g.43cm x 28cm
Hope you enjoy looking!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Limited Palette

Biggest debate of the week was which two tubes or pans or pastel sticks to select for this weeks club topic. Any subject, any medium but only 2 tubes or pans etc. A member sugested that it was easier to say two colours, but as organisers we were afraid that it would be interpreted as any number of variations of the two chosen colours. We wanted to really limit the options so that members were pushed into experimenting with the options available from their two chosen tubes or pans (with two exceptions all chose to paint with watercolours, the remaining two chose black and white inks)
I selected Cobalt Blue and Indian Yellow. This would give me a blue for the florals, yellow for the stamens and a mixture of the two for my greens.
I did a loose sketch before the session, and had little difficulty with all the basic elements, but the shadow areas did give me some trouble as I could only produce greenish colours for this. When I viewed the finished painting, I was aware that it seemed very cold, but could not get around this as I had no access to any warmer colours. Maybe I should have chosen a warmer blue to begin with!

When I arrived home, I used Moonglow and Ultramarine Pink to create a shadow colour and overpainted some of the floral shadow areas. I also used th Cobalt Blue and the background mixtue of the Cobalt and Indian yellow to reduce the curled petal of the r.h. flower that seemed to have taken on the appearance of a blue mushroom. Finally, I added more Indian Yellow to the centres of the flowers to soften the overall impression of blue flowers. Not really sure if the additions work, and I apologise for the lack of consistency in the photos, but they were both taken at the same time of day at the same table in the studio, just on consecutive days, and the amount of sunshine has been vey consistent. Not at all sure why the camera has pruduced such different results. Any ideas, anyone?

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300gms

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Collage : Delphiniums

Time for another attempt at the mixed media method. This time the flowers were to be Delphiniums. I say Delphiniums in the loosest sense as the finished painting will only be a very vague representation of the actual flowers. I did want something with lots of little flowers this time, to see if they had the same possibilities as the bigger blooms.
The system was exactly the same as for the 'Daisies ( post before last ) so I set about painting the background first, to use similar colours to the flower colours that I was going to use. Whilst the paint was still wet, I added salt in spire-like shapes to reflect the flower spikes. This was then put aside to dry.

I used a number of colours for the background including Ultramarine Pink, Quinachridone Violet, Apatite Green, Quinachridone Rust and Pthalo Blue, These are mainly Daniel Smith or Graham paints. The paper is my usual Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300g.
I then took a second piece of paper, a bit of a cheaper brand -Centenaire Not 300g- because lots of it gets cut away and thrown out! This time I used the flower colours, many similar to the background colours, but trying to be very delicate.

When both pieces were completely dry, (the above looks much more blue than the actual painting. I am not sure why the camera overstated that colour) I drew flower shapes onto the Centenaire paper, trying to use the areas of colour which pleased me most. Having done that, I then had to carefully cut around the blooms, leaving some as spikes and then cutting around some separate flowers to scatter into the painting.
Using PVA glue, I stuck the flower spikes and the individual flowers onto the background and patiently held them down until they stayed flat. Again, a wait for them to dry, and then I was able to paint some detail into the flowers, add some darks to the central background and finally lightly paint in a couple of leaves.Hope You enjoy looking!

                                                    'Delphiniums'      (40cm x 30cm)

                                                   'Delphiniums'   (detail)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The subject at Avon valley Artists this week was 'Reflections'. Any interpretation and any medium. This type of wide brief always brings forth some excellent interpretations and that is often one of the most interesting parts of the viewing at the end of the session.
I had an idea in my head about how I wanted the finished painting to look, but did not have any idea of how to achieve it,
I wanted the reflections to be fairly obvious, but not the surface on which the reflection was cast. That was to be left mainly to the imagination of the viewer.
I did a bit of prep work before the session and drew in the upper flowers and very lightly marked out the placing of the reflections in the lower half of the painting, The dividing line became a series of diagonals with broken stems.
It was all a bit hit and miss, but I tried to keep the colours fresh and not worry too much about accuracy. At the end of the session, I was quite pleased with the result

                                                   'Tulip Reflections'   300lb Rough
                                                   Fabriano Artistico  25cm x 35cm

When I got the painting home and had lived with it a few days, I felt that the passage through the middle was a little too strong, so removed it from its mount and I washed away some of the Ultramarine Blue and replaced it with a lighter blue mixed with green and this seemed to remove a bit of the strength of the barrier between the tulips and their reflections. The difference is quite small so I have not re-photographed it as I do not think there will be much difference in the reproduction. When it came to framing the finished painting I spent some time deciding how much of the top and bottom of the painting to remain seen. In the end I opted to crop the flowers and the reflections fairly closely which I think strengthens the painting, but has the added advantage of removing some slightly sludgy passages at the base of the painting

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Mixed Media

Ten days is a long time for me not to have done any painting, but life at home has been very busy without a single morning or afternoon free to get into the studio. Also, at Art Club on Thursday of last week we were doing a drawing exercise, so that lost an opportunity to get the watercolours out. Drawing is not really my thing which maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to painting flowers. Who is going to argue that the petal or leaf shape is not totally accurate. Over time my drawing skills have improved, but I would not choose to do it, although I am aware that the experts say we should draw for 10 mins every day! For the drawing exercise I chose some pitcher plants. I really do not like the idea of carnivorous plants, but they have lovely shapes and markings, I used a 2B pencil on cartridge paper.

To make up for my lack of opportunity to paint, I spent some time on both weekend days in the studio having fun with some collage work. I try to keep the choice of flowers simple so that they are easy to cut around. I will try more complex shapes when I am sure the painting will work - more experience needed at the moment. What I really like about this process is the ability to really splash the background around without fear of spoiling the flower area. No more carefully painting around shapes to get a good background!

                                                     'Daisies' Mixed media on Fabriano
                                                      Artistico Extra White 44cm x 30cm

In hind sight I should have photographed each stage to show you how I did it. Maybe next time I will rememnber! Anyway, I started by painting the background on the Artistico paper. Wetting some areas,and adding paint, putting paint on to dry paper and spraying, both with plain water and water containing a few drops of ox gall to help mobility of paint. I then added a little sea salt to some areas to improve textural interest.
Whilst this was drying (it took some time as there was lots of water!)  I took a sheet of lighter weight and cheaper paper  (Lots gets thrown away)  and lightly painted wet in wet  areas of Moonglow, Rose of Ultramarine, Pthalo Blue and Cadmium Yellow in very loose areas from where I hoped to cut out the daisies.
When the Daisy page was dry, I drew the flowers in appropriate places and cut around them. I now had lovely daisy shapes already palely coloured with delicate shadows and markings.
The next bit was emotionally difficult as the background had worked so well,  that I could not make up my mind which bit to hide. I wanted it all to show!!

Anyway, needs must and I carefully pasted the flowers to the background using PVA medium. The petals have a tendancy to curl upwards when damp so patience is required.

Finally, I had the pleasure of re-defining petals, strengthening shadows and adding the stems, lines and splatters to the overall painting.  I splattered quite heavily with white acrylic ink around the edges of the petals to take away some of the harshness of the cut lines, trying to blend the collage pieces a little more into the background. Hope it worls for you!            

Monday, 5 March 2012

'In The Garden'

Last weeks topic at club was 'In The Garden', so a lovely chance to do something a bit floral. I collected the picture below during a recent trip to France. He is a doctor and she is an emerging garden fanatic. All the really old magazines are kept to put in the surgery waiting room, and I am allowed to help myself to any photos that I think might be useful for future paintings.

Funnily enough it was not the flowers that attracted me to the image, but the lovely pots with their diagonal reflections that got my juices going. Not that I had any idea how to render the surface of the pots to portray their lovely finish, but was prepared to give it a go. I was also very attracted to the clump of cream grasses in the foreground, lightly tinted with beautiful yellows and pinks,

I did a drawing to the best of my ability and then put random washes of pink and yellow and green where the grasses would go. When the washes were dry I then  used masking fluid (I prefer Pebeo Liquid Gum) to mask out the grasses and the stems of the agapanthus flowers in the pots.
I proceeded to paint the picture using lots of my favouite Apatite Green by Daniel Smith and used Moonglow and Rose Of Ultramarine  to tackle the pots.
When all was done I removed the masking fluid to reveal patches of pink and yellow and green on the grasses, and painted the stems of the flowers. Finally I used a mixture of paint and pastel to put in the flower heads, trying to keep them secondary to the pots, and I used a darker mixture of the Moonglow and Pink of Ultramarine to paint in the cast shadows.

'Pots of Agapanthus' Watercolour
on Centenaire Rough 140lb
25cm x 35cm

Looking at the finished painting, I would have done better to darken considerably the r.h.sides of the two pots, and given them longer  cast shadows on the ground on the same side. Difficult to rectify now that the masking fluid has been removed from the grasses! Lesson learnt, hopefully for next time.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Cherry Time

 Although the weather has been lovely and the garden has called, I have still found the time to do quite a bit of painting. I have been looking for subjects which , although they include flowers, have a bit of variation about  them. Not sure yet that I have got it right, but am quite pleased with the result and the comments from Club members on Thursday was favourable. The only bit I would like to change is the two central buds. They      seem a bit stiff, as cherry blossom tends to gently hang more than that, but I am afraid to spoil the painting,  although it is not too late to add a couple of suggested buds behind the lower one of the two. Maybe I will give it a go, before I mount and maybe frame it for the exhibition. Hope you enjoy looking.

                                            'Cherry Time'    Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico
                                            Extra White Rough. 36cm x 26cm

I used lots of Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta for the flowers with Ultramarine Violet in the shadows.
To avoid a 'too pink' painting I deliberately chose to paint slightly yellow cherries, so I used Alizarin Crimson and Indian Yellow. I then used the Alizarin Crimson in the top left corner of the background to link the two areas together and added a little Quinacridone Rust to the left of the bowl to help link it all together. (In the original, this band of colour is much more subtle, not sure why the scanner has picked it up so strongly!) Hope you think it works.