With all the world around me covered in snow, there was not much chance of finding the odd flower in the garden to bring indoors, although there are Camellias out and the Rhododendrons and Hellebores are almost there. So if I was to start a painting it was a choice of either use a photo or paint something from the studio. I have a pot of dried seed heads, including a couple of Teasels which I thought might do, although they did not look too inspiring in the pot before I started!!
I chose a block of rough Fabriano Artistico Extra white, and did a quite free sketch of a bunch of teasels, and using masking fluid, covered the sharp needles around the head of each one, together with the longer dried leaves which went into the background.
This meant that I could freely and confidently wash in the background with as many colours as I needed without having to be careful about the seed heads.
This painting was to be all about colour, as free as possible and very little concern about getting them botanically accurate. As you can see from the initial washes I chose lots of Blue/green colours together with some of the earth colour I proposed using for the seed heads.
For all of us, there hopefully comes a time when the beginnings of a painting really excite us. What a glorious feeling! As the colours went down on the paper, it was enough to really excite me and I could hardly control my impatience to get on with it BUT I had added plenty of granulation fluid and areas of sea salt to give the background texture, so I had to wait until it was completely dry so that I could remove the masking fluid without smudging the background texture.
When the paint and salt were dry, and I had carefully removed them, together with the masking fluid around the seed heads ( I left the long dried leaves at this stage so that once again the heads could be painted with abandon) I painted each of the heads, using Yellow Ochre, Quinachridone Rust, Translucent Orange, Indian Yellow and Burnt Umber. Where necessary I added a little Moonglow or Ultramarine Blue in the darks.
I removed the rest of the masking fluid and painted in the needles and the dried leaves, using a little White Acrylic Gouache for the detail. I darkened parts of the stems, then gave the painting a good but delicate splatter with Burnt Umber, Translucent Orange and White Acrylic Gouache.
All that I have done to the painting since taking the photo is to soften the divide between the half painted teasel on the left and its background. I just felt the line was a bit harsh. Apart from that it is as I painted it without a break, and without too much else other than instinct. I know art is subjective and this image might not be to everyone's taste, but just for once I an totally delighted with the result and think it is my most successful painting for month. I now have to come down off the high and get ready for the Club exercise tomorrow which I am sure will, by comparison be a total disaster!