Painting flowers doesn’t come natural to me. But I never realized how much I will enjoy it. Especially when I can do it outside. Painting outside just has some magic to it, which only a plein air artist will understand. My plein air work is always much better than my atelier work, more intuitive, more spontaneous. My biggest problem is leaving the painting as it is AFTER I have returned to the atelier. I forget that I am an artist and I turn into a plastic surgeon. I see a little something that needs “lifting” and so I begin to I nip and tuck this beautiful plein air work up to a point here it becomes totally unrecognizable. I lose that fresh plein air touch and I end up with tired and overbotoxed painting. Sigh…
oil on linen, 33x47cm
This is the completed painting I carried from the garden to the atelier. I was happy.
Roses 1: The first steps – getting in the shapes and the darks for shadows. A white canvas always threatens me, paralyzes me. This is a perfect way for me to lose that fear of the white surface I have to fill.
Roses 2: Almost done
Roses 3: Painting completed.
Roses 4: Back in the studio, the artist got kidnapped by the plastic surgeon and the painting transformed completely. All my hard work in the garden, my lovely strokes, the depth in my blooms…all gone.
And so another painting had been a lesson learnt the hard way. Studio painting is studio painting and plein air painting is plein air painting, basta.
My garden is starting to run empty of flowers. A few roses and the nasturtiums are still hanging on though. We had a sudden spurt of cold and rain last week which gave the nasturtiums quite a knock and I hastily had to pick them before I had nothing left. So, painting was done in the atelier…not the same as painting sur le motif in the garden.
oil on linen, 30x50cm
oil on linen, 30x30cm
It feels so great to work in oils again! It is and will always be my first love. I neglect it far too much. In fact, there a lot of things I neglect too much. Anyway…
My hydrangeas are at the end of their summer colour. they were beautifully white and I had dark pinks. The whites turned to greens and the pinks to this beautifully seductive deep burgundy. Some really suffered from the hat and drought of August and crumpled into brown and black splotches among the greens and magentas. I love these colors…rich and old and weathered.
hydrangeas set-up in atelier
oil on linen, 55x45cm
halfway through hydrangeas 1
oil on linen, 45x33cm
halfway through hydrangeas 2
I am more impressed with the halfway through hydrangeas 2 than with the completed painting. At this stage I wanted to stop, but just wanted to do a touch more to the surrounding greens. Before I could stop myself, I added touches all over and the painting completely changed. So much for being happy with the painting before adding touches..
Until next time
Some subject are painted again and again and they never look the same, like sunflowers. I have done sunflowers in 2007, then in 2010, 2011, 2014 and now again. they are just wondeful to paint/sketch…the colour alone gives me huge kick when slapping it onto the paper. Sometimes my painting/sketching didn’t work, but I enjoyed painting sunflowers every time. So, before the season runs out, I need to get some sunflowers done in oil…looking forward to that.
Sunflower 1: Watercolour and pen, watercolour block, 30x30cm
Sunflower 2: Watercolour and pen, watercolour block, 3030cm
The agapanthus in my garden are blooming profusely and beautiful in their blues ad whites. To my amazement I realized yesterday i haven’t painted any agapanthus yet. I gave it three attempts. The first attempt is probably still the best , even though it is not what I am after. Most of the time that I try two or more attempts of the same subject, I find that the first attempt is the best.I have experienced it so many times. I think it is probably an instinctive reaction to what you see for the first time in front of you..in order to capture that is…and as we all know… first, spontaneous reactions are always instinctive.
Agapanthus 1: Not great composition, but the first attempt and probably the best of three.
Agapanthus 2: The values way too dark and the overall effect too messy.
Agapanthus 3: Third attempt and I think it turned out the second best of the three efforts. I quite like the lightness of the blooms, but the overall effect is a bit stiff.
Until next time
I wasn’t satisfied with the gargoyle sketch 2 posts ago and even leaving it to the art fairy didn’t help. In fact the more I looked at it, the worse it got. So today I decided to redo it. I am still not in heaven about the sketch, but at least it is a bit better and I am tired of that spot in the garden. I suppose you can’t win all the time.And now I have to move on.
watercolour and dip pen with black ink in daler rowney sketchbook, 21X29.7cm
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm