For those of you that may have been following this blog for any length of time – I do hope you’re sitting down when you read this!
After many years of painting in watercolour, I’ve finally attempted my first painting of flowers! Even as I write I can still hardly believe it. I came across the reference photo for this the other week when I was trawling through my archives. It was taken in France while on holiday back in 2011. More than that I can’t tell you. Nor can I explain the strange cosmic circumstances that led me to paint something like this!
Once over the shock of it all, I’m quietly pleased with how this turned out. Granted you can’t tell exactly what the flowers are or anything, but I think that there’s enough here to give you the gist of some flowers in an ornamental urn surrounded by various foliage – which has already exceeded my expectations!
In terms of how I did this (I’m going to purposefully refrain from using the phrase ‘how I accomplished this’!) I did a very light touch / vague pencil sketch. This didn’t show where each flower was going to go, only to general outline mass of the flowers, the shape of the urn (is that what it’s called – the thing that the flowers are in?) and the edges of the plinth.
I wettted the paper all over and waited for the sheen of the moisture on the papers’ surface to disappear as the paper absorbed the water. Then, while the paper was still damp, I started to drop in tiny amounts of pretty much pure, undiluted pigment for the flowers.
While the paper was still damp, I then washed in more liberally a variety of light greens pretty much everywhere else with the exception of the plinth and urn. The plinth and urn were treated in a similar fashion with a mix of raw sienna and light red. This was then left to dry completely.
Next came the darker washes, painting negatively around the plinth, the urn and around the flowers. I was mainly trying to vary my edges and use different brushstrokes to build up a hotch-potch of different textures to convey different leaves and types of foliage. Some areas of this are more successful than others and I did, on a couple of occasions, feel like I was running out of ideas but carried on nevertheless.
While some of these areas were still wet, I was able to strengthen some parts, where I wanted more contrast, and in others, to add more water, for more diffused effects.
Once dry, I just added in the shadow areas on the side of the plinth and the urn, and then added some darks in and amongst the flowers to help make the colours pop a little more.
I actually feel quite encouraged by how this turned out so, while it was my first foray into florals, it probably won’t be my final!
The jury is in
Last week I shared two different paintings of the same view, the interior of a cottage that we had the pleasure of staying in back in 2011. It was left that one of these paintings may be making it’s way to my dear friends’ parents, who own the cottage. As of last week, the jury was very firmly out. From the readers of the the blog, I think that version B was perhaps edging it.
The true acid test I suppose was from the family, from the people that know the view and the cottage most intimately. Even though this was a close call, the final verdict fell in favour of the first painting, version A.
The description that I liked from one of the family members was that painting A captures the character of the house more accurately:
Imperfect, not too refinedThe verdict
I think that this was meant as a description of the house, but I think it could equally apply to pretty much all of my paintings!
I refrained from expressing my opinion last week but now that a decision has been made, here’s my tuppence ha’penny’s worth.
I really liked version A from the the minute I painted it. It was done quickly and quite intuitively. It was only at the mention of four words: ‘is it for sale?’ that I started to doubt the painting. I started to see lot’s of things that, from a primarily technical perspective, I thought I could improve on.
This lead me to version B. I do like this version too. I was able to correct some of the things that troubled me in the my first effort, such as the greater sense of light on the back wall. Overall, however, what I gained in some of the technical refinements, I also lost much of the character of the first effort.
I would have been delighted with whichever one was chosen. The main thing to me is that in the eyes of people that know the view best, version A captured the character of the view – and I think that’s such a wonderful compliment.