With all these awful grey days around, the next painting called for something bright, bold and colourful. I think Irises are quite difficult flowers to paint, but I was prepared to have a go. There are none around in the florists at the moment so it had to be taken from my book of Irises with photos by Clay Perry. The Iris is called 'Jazz Festival'
I started by making a very accurate drawing of the flowers. I knew I would need to be careful to do them justice so it was important to get it right,
I would have loved to tackle them in a really loose way, but it seems that the more complicated the drawing, the more I tighten up.
I used mainly Translucent Orange, Quinachridone Rust and Indian Yellow for the 'standards' and Quinachridone Magents and French Ultramarine Blue for the 'falls'. Whilst the paint was still quite damp, I used the wrong end of a fine paint brush to inscribe the markings on the petals.
It was then, just a case of working slowly on each of the flowers, trying to very the colour density slightly so that each flower has its own characture.
I added the greens as I went along, as this helps me to ensure that the way the flowers sit on their stems, reads correctly. I used various mixtures to create the greens, predominantly Apatite Green Genuine, Cobalt Teal Blue and Hansa Yellow,
When all the flowers were painted, I left the picture propped up in the studio whilst deciding how to approach the background. I really liked the strong bold colours of the Irises against the stark white background, but did not want it to become an attempt at botanical painting. I wanted the stem to be set into its natural context, but wanted to keep some of the freshness. In the end I decided on a very pale background, made up of the colours I had used in the flowers, gradually getting darker in the bottom RH corner.
I think it works ok.
When the painting was dry, I used a bristle haired brush and clean water to lift off some of the colour on the RH side of the purple 'falls', to give them a bit more body, and I used a similar process, but a very fine watercolour brush and clear water to lighten the central lines of the 'falls'.
I also lifted some colour from the edges of the 'standards' to give a few semi-lost edges.
I think I will have a go at a much looser painting of the same flowers. I will be tempted to use the back of an old painting for the first go, and see how I get on. It will be interesting to compare the two, if I manage to get past the initial wash!!