Thursday, 29 January 2015

Still Life at AVA : Nasturtiums and Copper Jug.

Last week, at Avon Valley Artists, the theme was Still Life. As the previous week had involved food, I thought it would be ok to do some flowers. I say ok, as I often get a bit of teasing for my ability to sneak flowers into whatever the topic is!
I am really in love with my collection of copper kitchen ware and take every opportunity to include a piece in my paintings. If you looked a couple of weeks ago at the post you will remember my lovely skillet which I used with the gourds.

So this time the choice was one of the squat jugs, and a photo from the garden last year of some nasturtiums. The two things have lots of those rich golden colours in common and I did not think it would be too difficult to arrange the flowers in the jug from my imagination. The only thing to remember is that the flowers need to be seen to be supported by the rim of the jug, and not self supporting in the middle of the space.

I did a reasonably accurate drawing, and added in pencil in all the reflections I would need before leaving home. This meant that I could manipulate the light in the studio. At AVA, the sun comes very strongly through large windows, and can be blinding for some members, so the curtains often get drawn which leaves little excitement in metal reflections. To add a little more interest both in shape and size, I took a lemon with me to put into the composition.

Apologies for not taking a series of photos, but I rarely remember to take my camera to AVA and my phone seems only to produce mediocre photos.....even if I remember to get it out!

The painting was fairly straightforward and was done with my usual palette on Fabriano paper.


                                              ' Still Life with Nasturtiums and Copper Jug'

Friday, 23 January 2015


Peter Ward was kind enough to give me this lovely photo of  caryopteris. I have had it a while and had every intention of trying to paint from it. I should have known better!!

Anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but I do find these plants made up of lots of tiny parts very difficult to interpret.I think it is all about getting the general flower head shape right and then adding just enough detail to suggest what is going on in the centre
With this in mind I put an initial wash onto some 300g rough paper and let it thoroughly dry. I intended to paint the flowers without any drawing, so I just started with the darker areas and painted in the buds.

This seemed to be fine, but then I sort of got cold feet, and was afraid that by drawing the flowers with paint, I could get the shapes totally wrong, so I then drew in the opening blooms with pencil so that I could be sure the would be ok.

Once this was done, I added details into the flower heads, starting at the top and working down. Some of the flowers were identified by painting darker around them so defining their shape, others were painted with a mixture of Cobalt blue and white Acrylic Gouache'. I worked gradually down the painting, adding more buds and open flowers, some stems and leaves.

I used an architects pen to draw in the dark stamens and then enhanced the background with some darks and some magenta to try to warm up the image. At this stage it seemed quite a cool painting. Even now that it is finished I wish it had more warmth to it. I also think I should have used a lot more Cobalt blue and a lot less Anthraquinachridone and Ultramarine Blues.

Too late to change it now, but a lesson learnt for the next time I give it a go.

Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough 300g paper

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Recent Efforts : Roses, Plums and Hellebores

This is just a simple catch-up on what I have been doing both at home and at Avon Valley Artists.
There is nothing very different in the way I have approached the paintings and I never really gave any thought to photographing the stages I went through..........sorry about that. But I thought I would share the outcomes with you, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask. I hope you enjoy looking.

This rose painting was a result of my liking the penultimate photo of the Roses painting that I published a couple of posts ago. The intention was to produce a painting like it, but it is not quite how it worked out!!

These Hellebores were painted after a brief session in the garden where I noticed that the brave Hellebores were beginning to poke their heads above the frosty soil. They were painted from photos I took last winter. This years crop are not far enough advanced yet.

This Still Life was painted at the weekly club session in response to the title 'Food'. The jug was originally white like the bowl, and the plums were quite blue,  but when I got home, I felt the painting was too cool, so added the green stripes to the jug and some warmer colour into the plums and the shadows. I enjoyed trying to get that bloom which plums have when they have been sat in the bowl for a little while. It is similar to trying to paint grapes and damsons!

All the paintings were done on Fabriano Artistico Extra White paper, the 'Roses' and 'Hellebores' on a Rough surface and the 'Plums' on a Not surface, using my usual palette of watercolours with some Acrylic White gouache

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Gourds x 2

Over the Christmas period, there was not too much time for painting as the studio becomes the guest room. I did notice, however, that the bowl of gourds that I had given me were starting to deteriorate with the central heating. This seemed quite unusual as normally they last a lot longer. The result was that I decided to do a couple of still life paintings of them whilst they were in reasonable condition.

There were two distinct types.....some really quaint miniature gourds and some more traditional sized ones.
I started with the little ones and selected a couple of little pots to go with the, together with a ripe fig which I thought helped the colour composition. I loved the lumpiness of the skins on these little gourds and put quite a lot of effort into getting them right. The result is quite a tight painting, but I am pleased with the result.

I am not sure about the funny shape of the striped pot, so I have had another look at the original, and it seems ok on the painting. I can only assume that the photo was taken whilst the paper was still damp and slightly buckled.......Sorry about that !

'Miniature Gourds And Pots'
Fabriano Artistico Extra White Not paper and watercolours
30 x 20 cms

I wanted to try to get the second painting a little looser, so I piled the larger of the gourds into a lovely copper pan that I have used quite often in still life paintings, because of the gorgeous colours of the copper. The skins of the gourds were much smoother, so there was not the need for so much attention to detail and I was able to paint the whole picture with simple washes. A completely different effect which I hope you think works.

'Gourds and Copper Pan'
Fabriano Artistico Extra White Not paper and watercolours
30 x20 cms