There are some lovely wild flowers around at the moment and the central reservations of dual carriageways, roadside hedges and wild flower traffic islands make me want to get out and collect a handful to paint. Of course there is never anywhere to park, so I make do with trying to retain the images and my trusty wild flower book. I nearly always end up with an image which is not exactly like any real wild flower, but I am not worried about that, as I often use these subjects for experimental work.
I started with this premise on Thursday at club, where the formal programme has been suspended and we all do our own thing. We get lovely mixtures of subjects during these three months and the numbers are always smaller, so the group is a lot more intimate.
I started by deciding on the colour emphasis for the painting, and did a simple slightly stripey wash with various blues and pinks and greens. I then sprinkled sea salt onto the paper in quite careful shapes to give me heads of flowers something like Cow Parsley, Queen Anne's Lace of Hog Weed. I let the salt dry completely, and then drew in the distinctive stem shapes trying to naturally join in the bunches of salt marks.
If anyone has not seen me do this before, these d'oylies came from my mother-in-laws kitchen when we cleared it after her death. I am not sure how I first came to experiment with them, but I have produce several paintings where they feature. See 'Blossom' ( 21/6/12 ) and Summer Meadow ( 14/7/12 )
Below, you can see how it works. I have tried other more modern d'oylies, but find them a bit flimsy and often too flowery. I keep all the bits as I know that one day I will have used them all up and will need to use every scrap.
When I paint a new sheet, I try to include all the colours that I might use onto the one sheet as this blends the colours nicely.I then pull away small pieces which I stick in appropriate places using a PVA glue. I am careful not to use too much glue as it is difficult to paint over it once it is dry.
When I was happy with the flowers, I used the greens and browns to create an undergrowth, using a mixture of paint, gouache and painted d'oyley.
At this point I thought it was finished, so cut I a mount and propped it up in the studio for a couple of days. I did decide that the stems seemed a little isolated from their surroundings and the painting would look better if the branches disappeared outside the frame to give the impression of an extended hedgerow, so I added a little more on the LH side and at the top. This also helped with the fact that I thought the top two flower heads were of a too similar height.
It might not be a masterpiece, but I really enjoy the playing with shapes and textures which is often part of what I do in the summer.