Thursday, 28 March 2013

Blue Blossom

This mornings subject at Avon Valley Artists, or rather the task, was to produce a painting from a given squiggle. we do this once a year with the idea of stretching our imaginations to produce a reasonable result from a few pencil lines, without any source material to help us. The lines are very simple and are usually produced by one of our members grandchildren. We had two from which to choose. We then have to reproduce the design onto our painting paper, any size and any way around, but there is a reliance on everyone reproducing the line as faithfully as possible.

I can nearly always find a way to paint something floral, and as this is what I enjoy most, I never apologise for producing just that!

No prizes for guessing, therefore. which line I selected, and in my customary way, I started with a two/three colour wash which I allowed to dry and then drew and painted the piece below, using the lower line drawing as my starting point.

It is surprisingly difficult for lots of the group to paint without any source material at all, and I found that I had put in too much green in the centre of the painting and it was quite difficult to get any freshness in the flowers when trying to paint the central blooms.

I had taken some paper that I rarely use as it seemed a pity to waste expensive paper, as I had no idea what I was going to be doing, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed working on this textured paper...'Cornwall'....especially as it is a heavy duty paper which did not need stretching, and hardly buckled at all, despite keeping most of the image quite wet throughout the session. It is a paper with a hard surface, which helps keep the paint on the surface, which gives a freshness to the work, in this case to the original wash, and also paint can be very easily lifted if required.
I do not pretend that the flowers have a name,but I will be happy to give the painting a mount and put it in the browser at the exhibition. I will leave you to work out where the original lines are in the painting!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Chinese Lanterns

Having spent most of this week making a 'Ball Gown' for an over excited 7 year old, I really missed putting paint on paper.
With just an hour and a half to spare, I was determined to paint something, maybe only a sketch, but none-the-less I wanted it finished within the time frame, as tomorrow all would need to be stored away again until the dress is finished.
A quick look around the studio and |I found a couple of twigs of Chinese Lanterns in a pot of dried flowers. I thought they would do nicely, and as they were already well dried, there were no leaves, so I had a quick look on the internet to see the type of leaves, no real detail required and I was ready to go.

I did my usual thing of flooding the paper with colour, this time using Transluscent Orange and Apatite Green as the two main colours, which I left to dry  before doing a quick drawing.

Because I had not given myself a lot of thinking time, I did a reasonably accurate drawing so that the painting could be swift and effective ( I hope! ).

Then I simply painted the seed heads with a bit of care to begin with, but with less and less so as time was running out. I am quite pleased with the result and maybe I will give myself more time trials as it seemed to be a lot of fun.

 A useful exercise , although I am not sure why the photo shows white speckles on the lower RH Lantern, as, for once, I did no splattering at all!

PS I am not sure why the blog site has changed its format. I really liked it when all enlarged images could be accessed from the same page by means of a row of thumb nails. Now we have to keep going back to the post page for each enlarged image. If anyone out there can get it changed back, please do so!

Thursday, 21 March 2013


This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists Group was 'Leaving'
What a title for a flower painter, but never one to be defeated I gave it some thought and decided to try to combine the flowers with something that could be loosely connected to the title.I thought I might try to paint a Humming bird leaving a clump of blossom after having had its fill of nectar.

The blossom was no problem, although it proved to be the most disappointing part of the painting when it was finished! The source material for the Humming Bird, I acquired from the internet, and decided to use the shape but not necessarily the colours.

Before going to AVA, I worked out the vague composition and painted the background in the usual way, using mainly transparent orange, pthalo blue and pthalo green with a mixture of paynes grey and moonglow for the shadows on the LH side.

The wash already gave me some flower shapes in the bottom LH corner, so I did a light simple drawing of some flower shapes , together with leaves to represent the shrub that the bird had been visiting, and I placed the humming bird in the top RH third of the painting. Ideally, the bird would have been approaching the flowers to keep the eye from leaving the image, but I had to stick with the subject, so it had to be flying away from the flowers.. It didn't really matter, as Thursday Club is all about experimenting, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Whilst painting the picture, I tried to remember that all objects are only shapes and can nearly always be treated in the same way. Bearing in mind my recent preoccupation with lost and found edges, I tried to use similar techniques when painting the bird as I would have used for flower petals. The bird was the first thing I painted as I wanted that part of the picture finished before the end of the club session.

I then tackled the flowers, which I thought were going fairly well, until it became evident that I had not yet learnt when to stop, and I think they have been seriously overworked. Never mind, I am really pleased with the bird and there will be plenty of opportunity to paint more flowers in the future. I might even have more goes at exotic birds.

As an aside, Peter Ward ( ) painted a fantastic eagle about to take flight, which is well worth a look.In my opinion, the best he has painted for ages. Well done Peter! Several other members painted some really good stuff too, which Peter might post on his site, so doubly worth a look.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lilac Blossom

Back in the studio, time to begin a new painting, and as usual my inclination was towards flowers. I was influenced by the subject this week at AVA which is 'Spring' and thought I would look for something of that nature to start.
Over the past few weeks I seem to have done several paintings of subjects outside my comfort zone and we have all been agreed that it is good to push oneself from time to time, so I thought I would continue to try something a bit different. This time however, I stayed in the floral zone but decided to try to paint a more complex flower. I so often tackle single large blooms so its time for a change.

I came across a couple of lilac photos from my garden last season in my resources folder and thought they would do as a starting point.

The challenge here was to paint these blossoms without tightening up too much in an attempt to paint all those little buds and flowers.

I started in the usual way of covering the paper with a wash of various mauves, purples and pinks and added some greens at the top. When this was dry, I briefly and lightly drew in the approximate positions of the flower heads, and with some trepidation set about trying to represent the lilac as attractively but as loosely as possible.

In order to achieve this, I used lots of water and plenty of gouache to create the tiny flowers, paying as much attention to what I left out, as what I put in. I did not find it easy and could have given up on a number of occasions during the process. What I did find helped was only painting in short burst. Immediately I felt the painting getting too detailed, I gave it a rest and came back with lots of water and paint a little while later.

In this photo you can just about see where the initial washes were placed. As I painted, I included some of the foliage to help see how the composition was developing.

 I tried very hard to only add recognisable flower shapes sparingly to help maintain the looseness. This I did by using white gouache in places mixed into the wet underpainting or on drier areas for more detail. I thought it might be useful to see this in a little more detail.

The whole process did require quite a bit of patience as it seemed to take ages, but when the flowers were finally finished and the background and greenery were added, I was pleased to have stuck with it and seen it through to the end. It has also given me another process to try to refine and develop which stops us getting bored with the same old thing!

                                         'Lilac Blossom'  Fabriano Artistico Extra White Paper
                                                         Approx 28cm x 38cm

Now that it is on screen, maybe the leaves should be a bit darker and glossier, but that can easily be remedied after living with it for a while!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Subject : Buildings

Having been away for 8 days and not painting very much either side the holiday, I was wondering what I could show you , just to keep the blog active really.

I did start the beginnings of a small painting on holiday. I was actually away skiing so did not expect to do any art work, but one year I could not ski for a couple of days and was really glad of a piece of paper and a pencil, lent by a fellow artist. Since then I have always taken a minimum of stuff, just in case. No accident this time, just the need to stop a bit earlier in the afternoons now that I am beginning to feel my age. If I decide to finish it I will share it with you later.

I did go to Art group this week, but was not over excited as the subject was buildings and as you all know, this is not my thing at all. Because I rarely paint such subjects, I have very little source material to call upon.

A thorough search. and I came across a booklet of lovely pictures of Maine USA and found a snow scene which in light of my holidays seemed appropriate.
The resulting painting is in no way as exciting as some of my recent florals, but at least I was not too disappointed even though it is too figurative for my taste.

                                                  Lighthouse In Winter, Maine USA

I have yet to find a way to paint buildings and even landscapes in the same way as I paint flowers and still life. My intellect tells me they are all just shapes and should be treated the same, but emotionally, I find it very difficult. Maybe I need to practice more and find a painter whose work will inspire me!