Friday, 18 April 2014

Spring Tulips

The subject at this weeks AVA group was 'Spring' There were not too many of us as it is the Easter break, but there seemed to be a lot of landscapes involving lambs this year.
I, of course, chose to paint flowers.
My inspiration for this painting can=me from the 'Rainbow Of Colours' two weeks ago. I really liked the top LH corner of the painting and thought it would be fun to see if I could use the same process to paint a whole painting.
The idea is to apply a wash to the paper and then paint the negative shapes around the objects. mIt all started quite well, except that yet again I forgot to photograph the original wash.

I used a piece of 'Cornwall ' paper produced by Hahnemuhle. It has a very distinct texture which I like for experimental work, and a fairly hard glaze which can be useful. It is also a 450g paper which means it does not buckle too badly when using lots of water.

One of the major problems I had, is the difficulty of working with washes of  green and red. Where they mix, the colours can become very muddy. I tried to keep them as separate bas possible, but it does not always work.

The 'Cornwall' paper is useful in so far as the surface of the paper allows the paint to be lifted quite easily. In fact paint can be reasonably lightened by using an ordinary pencil eraser! I was able, therefore to remove quite a bit od the red paint in the bottom corner in order to paint in the green leaves. The difference is quite obvious in the two photographs below.

The surface should not be scrubbed but just gently washed with a sofrt brush and the paint removed with a clean tissue.

I am not quite sure that the negative shape thing really worked, but the painting was fun to do and I quite like parts of the finished picture. I will live with it in the studio for a while until I decide if the RH greens need strengthening.

                                                  Watercolour on 450g 'Cornwall' paper
                                                          approx 38cms x 28 cms

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


The weather has been lovely and it has brought out lots of lovely lilac which I thought would be nice to paint. It has been too nice to spend too much time indoors and the lilac is not easy to see for painting purposes outdoors, so I cut several small branches to bring into the studio, to paint during the light evenings.

I also benefited from the lovely perfume whilst I was working. It must be said, however, the flowers soon drooped and I was painting from memory by the end. I should have taken a couple of photos whilst it was still fresh, or even gone out and photographed the tree during the painting process.

In order to avoid having to paint every single floret, I painted a wash over the clean sheet of paper, using Rose of Ultramarine, Ultramarine Violet and Quinachridone purple. I then sprinkled liberally with fine salt to produce some texture which I hoped would give me suggestions of flowers in the background.

When the paper was completely dry, I brushed away the salt and lightly sketched the position of the branches and the pot.

Using the same colours as before, I painted in the flowers, trying to make some shapes quite sharp, whilst leaving others quite soft. As I progressed, I added leaves and stems, to make sure that the branches were sat approximately right in the vase.

At this stage, I was tempted to give up. The process was quite repeatative and I found it difficult to paint so many tiny elements without the whole thing looking contrived.
Once the first two flowers were complete, I decided that maybe it was worth continuing, and I an glad now that I was disciplined enough to stick at it.
Once all the flowers were complete, I added more leaves and a background made up of Moonglow, Anthraquinachridone Blue and Quinachridone Magenta. This mix was applied to wet paper, and whilst still wet, I dropped in a splatter of white acrylic gouache, and gave the rest of the painting a bit of a splatter too.

                                                 'Lilac' Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico
                                                         300g extra white paper.
                                                              37cm x 27cm

Now that it is finished, I think the blue stripes on the pot could have been a bit darker, and I think I may need to add a few more leaves in the middle of the painting. Both those issues can be addressed after I have left it in the studio for a few days to study what is needed.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Rainbows of Colour

This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists Group was Rainbows of Colour. This would be the first time I had done any serious painting at club for some weeks, so I put quite a lot of thought into what I wanted to do. I had a visual image of a chunky pot of flowers reflecting all the colours of the rainbow, and I thought it might be effective if the flowers cascaded down the side of the pot in the correct order.

I was not overly concerned about the accuracy of whether the flowers chosen all bloomed at the same time, I was just interested in a variety of shapes and the correct colour sequence.
I finally chose to include red and orange tulips then yellow roses and green foliage and then blue agapanthus and hydrangea, indigo hellebores (the hardest colour to both visualise and to find an appropriate flower) and lastly violet thalictums. I was not sure if this was going to work, but on the premise that its only a piece of paper and if one does not try, one never knows, I set about it.

I did a quite careful drawing, keeping the pencil lines feint as I never really like then too visible in the final painting. I used masking fluid to protect the stamens of the hellebores and the thalictrum.When I was satisfied that the mask was completely dry, I wet each colour section of the drawing with clean water and dropped in the appropriate colou(s). I let each section dry carefully before adding the next so that each background wash stayed as fresh as possible. Where some of the colours were strong, I painted around the flower shapes rather than randomly covering the area. 

It was then, just a case of painting each of the chosen flowers, some by darkening the backgound painting negative shapes, and others by painting the actual flowers.

I am not too disappointed with the end result but would have liked the hellebores to be much fresher and I am unhappy about the link between the orange and blue sections. I really love the tulip corner!!
Also, of course, none of the colours are repeated elsewhere in the painting,which is a drawback. However, as usual, it was fun to do and I am glad I had a go!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Teasels Again!

Ready to paint again, but with little new to pick in the garden (lots of Hellebores and Tulips and such, but all painted so many times) I decided to use the teasels to have another go. I got as far as the drawing and the addition of the masking fluid for the spines and the background wash with plenty of table salt added. This needed plenty of time to dry, so as the weather was glorious, I decided on a little gentle exercise in the garden. I really wish I had stayed in doors!!

I went to put on a pair of gloves in the greenhouse, and my little finger on my right hand discovered a queen wasp in the glove just starting her nest.

The pain was indescribable. I could not get the glove off quickly enough and she had nowhere to go, so I think I got every drop of venom she could muster. Fortunately I am not allergic to this type of sting, but it was agony for the whole of the day and even now it is like having a nasty burn on my finger 36 hours later.
The sting is on the outer edge of the finger, right where one rests ones hand when painting, writing etc so it has been really uncomfortable to finish the painting.

However, when the background was dry and I had removed the salt and masking fluid, I decided to keep going, as I am getting a bit bored with my enforced incarceration and rest at home.

Each teasel was painted and then sprinkled with table salt and allowed to dry, using Indian Yellow, Yellow Ochre and Quinachridone Rust. I also used some Translucent Orange. The stems were painted with a similar mixteur but with a lot more Burnt Umber. To make the tiny thorns, I use a fine paintbrush which has lost all its hair. The remaining metal ferrule is ideal for dragging the paint outwards whilst still wet. It is also good for giving the stems some texture.

I used a permanent Sepia pen to firm up the leaves, stems and bracts ( if that is what they are ),

I gave the whole painting a very light splatter with white Acrylic Gouache and added a little more paint to the right of the stems which I dispersed with a plastic straw.

I think the colours of the teasels are a bit too brick red, but short of putting the whole painting under the tap I don't think there is much I can do about it.