Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Moody Blues : Delphiniums

This week at Avon Valley Artists was a bit strange!
The subject was 'Moody Blues', any interpretation, any medium. I, of course, chose to paint some flowers, so I looked out a source photo from the great amount that I have amassed and was surprised how few, by comparison to other colours that were in the folders,

I chose a couple of straightforward photos of Delphiniums and though they would do.

The evening before the group meeting, I used a sheet of Cornwall 450g matt paper and produced the background wash for the painting. I lightly sprayed the paper with clear water and then dropped paint onto the wet surface, using dark, medium and lilac based blues.

As I was going top have to give the flowers some definition, I used a little ball of tissue paper to blot out small areas of paint within the bands of colour whilst the paper was still very damp.

I then left the painting to dry completely over night knowing that, at this weight, the paper would return to completely flat once dry.

The following morning, off I went to the group. As we were setting up ready to work, I laughingly said that I would make the coffee and chat all morning as I thought the background wash was a painting in its own right. I was joking of course, but after all those interested had had a good look, they agreed and refused to allow me to touch the work.

This meant that I had no prepared paper for a mornings work, in fact I had no paper at all. I had to 'borrow' a sheet from a friend and set to,  to produce something for the critique at the end, even though this could be an unfinished piece of work

I do not know if we are right or not, but I now have two paintings of  'Delphiniums' both from the same source material, one very delicate and abstract and the other much more full on and hopefully fulfilling the 'Moody Blues' bit !!
I include both paintings here for you to judge for yourselves.

                                                           Cornwall 450gm Matt Paper
                                                                       Wash only

                                                    Fabriano Artistico Rough 300g Paper
                                                             Wash and over painting

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Daffodils and Alstroemeria

I seem to have had a bit of a yellow thing going on at the moment. The local supermarket was selling bunches of daffodils for less than a pound each, and after inviting some friends to dine with us, they arrived with a beautiful bunch of mixed yellow flowers.
Once they were both in water, I could not resist having a go at the daffodils and the alstroemeria whilst they were still fresh.
I find any trumpet shaped flowers quite difficult, so they were both a bit of a challenge, as was keeping the colours as fresh as possible, especially in the shadow areas. I painted them both in the same way, I applied a pale loose wash to the lightly sprayed paper. In order to keep it fresh, I dropped the paint onto the paper and allowed the various colours to mix themsel;ves.
I then did a light pencil drawing to get the composition about right and then tackled the flowers themselves. I was aware that they could all end up very 'tight' so I did try to keep some lost edges and free washes, but I still think they both should have been a bit looser. Case of must keep trying, could do better!
Once the flowers were finished , I darkened the centre background to help throw the flowers forwards, erased the pencil lines where possible, and tweaked the odd shadows. Both paintings were worked on 'Leonardo Matt' paper and the only addition to my usual palette, was Serpentine Green from Daniel Smith.



Apologies that the photos seem a bit too orange. The result of taking the photos at night I presume.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Caryopteris Revisited

A couple of posts ago, I published what I thought was quite a disappointing painting of Caryopteris done from a lovely photo given to me by Peter Ward, a painting colleague.
H suggested that if I was unhappy with the result, I should have another go. talking about the painting to my painting mate, Jan, we decided that rather than have another go on a new piece of paper, it would be worth putting the first effort under the cold tap, giving it a gentle but thorough scrub, and allowing it to dry.
It was only possible to do this because the painting had been done on a sturdy paper - Fabriano Artistico Rough. Had the painting been done on 'Cornwall' matt paper, I do not think this would have been possible. I am sure I would have rubbed the top surface away.

Once the sheet of paper has dried, I then attempted to repaint it, trying to keep it a bit less heavy, and altering the composition slightly.
I forgot to take a photo of the sheet completely washed, before I started to repaint, but in the photo below, you can see what the painting looked like from the bottom half of the photo, which has not yet been retouched.

As you can see, I started repainting from the top, As I wanted the buds to be much lighter, I did have to mix the Cobalt Blue with some white acrylic gouache, but in lots of places the paint had come away enough to use pure Cobalt. To make a strong contrast between the paler flowers and the background I started adding darks between the stems, some green and some dark blue and some blue and magenta mix.

I reworked all parts of the painting in this way, and altered the composition by adding another stem and more leaves, and faint suggestions of more buds in the LH background.

Although I would not claim to have produced one of my best images, I do think the painting is an improvement on the original, and it was an interesting experiment, proving that although watercolours can be very unforgiving when one makes a mistake, maybe there are ways in which we can improve the final result. I have included the original final image below so that the two can be compared without seeking out the previous Caryopteris post. (But you will need to go to that post if you want to see the original photo......although I have still not done it justice!)

Monday, 2 February 2015

Reflectiond : Anemonies Japonica

When I looked to see that this weeks theme was reflections, I had in mind to do a simple small painting of the reflections of brightly coloured boats against a harbour wall. However, on popping in to have a cup of coffee with my very close friend and fellow painter, I was seduced by a beautiful photo of reflection of flowers in a glass hanging ball in their garden. Her husband is a very imaginative, talented and observant photographer and there is always lots of  painterly photos to look at. With my penchant for painting flowers I could not resist having a go, despite my poor attempt at the Caryopteris a couple of posts ago.

Photo : With Thanks To Pete Weeks
Even as I agreed to give it a go, I was not sure how I was going to create a worthwhile painting from such a complex subject.

I took the photo home and spent almost an evening on the drawing. It seemed really important to get the shape of the garden globe correct and the positioning of the highlights and shadows correct' I was also concerned that the elongated shapes of some of the flowers should be right, even if lacking detail, to give the sense of a glass ball.

I also added some external flowers, as I felt this would help to put the central object into context. Although, if I exhibit this painting, I am sure I will spend time describing what exactly it is !

Again I apologise for the lack of the development photos. I only remember to do a sequence when I am at home in the studio. At AVA I get so engrossed that I completely forget external elements.
The painting was done very carefully in the beginning. The background first and then the globe. I did lots of the lines on the LH side to help me see the reflective nature and then did the flowers.
I started with pale washes as watercolour can be very unforgiving if one makes a mistake.

When all was painted, I used white acrylic gouache to streak in some of the reflections. This was a bit of a disaster in places, especially across the largest flower and the leaf shapes on the same side. I covered the mistakes with more gouache mixed with the Quinachridone Magenta over the petals and a similar green mix to paint leaf shapes over the LH side .

When all was painted, it was evident that the darks needed a bit more umph, so I used black Indian ink for the darkest shadows, and darkened the dark side of the metal supports as well. I also darkened the flower stems.
The external flowers were deliberately painted very loosely as I did not want the painting to be about them, they are only there to indicate where the reflections came from. It is not often that I feel really pleased with my efforts, but for a difficult, complex subject, I think, for me, it has worked really well. My only problem now, will be finding a square frame for it. They are not easy to come by. I may well have to make my own!

This painting was done on a sheet of Hahmemuhles Cornwall Matt paper ,450gms.
I thought I would mention that to attach the painting to the board and to give a crisp edge around the image for display at the end of the session, I used masking tape. When I removed the tape at the end, the top layer of paper came away as well, so obviously I must get some very low tack tape for this purpose. Unfortunately, but not disastrously, part of the lower edge and one side of the painting lifted as well so I have had to crop the image slightly.