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
It is very very hot and humid. Everybody is moving around like limp fish. The horses are in permanent rest under the apple tree, the cats don’t lift an eyebrow when I walk past the them and even the chickens lay motionless in the shade of the hibiscus bush. I was busy, or trying to be. I took down washing, hung the next basket full, every time walking past the chickens. When they didn’t move when by the third pass, I thought they might just keep that pose for another 30 minutes. Et voilà, indeed they did, or almost. This was fun.
oil on board, 30x30cm
When I drive on the narrow country roads, I love staring at all the country houses…their gardens, their latest activity, the latest changes, their potagers (vegetable gardens). Life is never quiet and static at a country home. Sometimes the houses are nestled on top of the grass hills, entouré (surrounded) by trees for shade and coolness during hot summers. Sometimes they are sunken deep in the valleys and their presence is betrayed only by their roofs or a trail of smoke in winter. How I love the country side!
..the house on the hill..
oil on linen, 38×46 cm
The opainting below was done earlier today and I spent only about 20-25 minutes on it before I packed up. Today is very humid and hot and the clouds are moving in and pretty soon the thunder will be rolling. I worked almost carelessly, tired and not really wanting to put in the effort. But it is actually starting to grow on me and is not as bad as I initially thought. Maybe I should do more 15 minute plein air paintings.
oil on linen,
Two plein air paintings for these two days. With the wonderful weather we are having this week, it would be shameful not to paint out.
..the old ruin..
oil on linen, 33×46 cm
With the past rains we had, the fields have exploded into greens and wildflowers, especially wild pink heather. It is not for nothing that fall is called second spring. There are also beautiful patches of lilac crocus all over. Of course, everybody is out hunting for mushrooms and a couple was doing just that while I painted “Pink heather”. The tree next to the little “cabane” is an old oak and home to the ever popular bolet, or cèpe and the hunting couple was all around the tree, all around the cabane, to and fro, while Madame lifted the bottom seam of her dress to carry their treasure. Fortunately I was far enough to avoid seeing the detail.
oil on linen, 27×40 cm
The chickens have been moved to their new chateau and soon the old chicken coop will be demolished, not without a morsel of sadness, though..
..le vieux poulailler..
oil on linen, 33x46cm
I first painted in the tufts of hay that stuck out all over, which I actually found so cute! After adding those first strokes of tuft and standing back, it look like I borrowed some stars from Van Goch starry night and added it to my poulailler. No go. So, with patience unknown to me, I scraped off the tufts with the palette knife and touched up again with fresh paint. It is once again an art lesson: not everything we find pretty in reality will necessarily make a good painting.