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Posts tagged “garden

Roses in the garden.

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…

Generosa carmeline

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.

à bientôt.



Yellow and red nasturtiums in oil.

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.

Yellow nasturtiums

oil on linen, 30x50cm



Red Nasturtiums

oil on linen, 30x30cm



à bientôt


Three white roses and a dahlia in oil.

The Iceberg roses(fee des neiges) are still blooming profusely with a few white button dahlias alongside. Even though I brought A stm or two insife to the atelier to paint, I wanted to portray them as if still in their natural environment…a corner of the rosebush.

Three white roses and a dahlia in oil.

oil on linen, 30x30cm


à bientôt



Late season hydrangeas in oil.

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


Hydrangeas 1

oil on linen, 55x45cm



halfway through hydrangeas 1


Hydrangeas 2

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



Watercolour for Sunflowers.

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

sunflowers 2016

Sunflower 2: Watercolour and pen, watercolour block, 3030cm

sunflowers 20160001

à bientôt


Agapanthus in watercolour.

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 -001

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.

Agapanthus -002

Until next time



Splashes, splotches and spatters in aquarelle.

I have been asked so many times how I do my splashes and after another request from Sophia, I thought I could do a pôst to explain how I splash ans splotch. have forever been doing splashes in my watercolor paintings and sketches. I paint and sketch with a big brush and loads of pigment and water and the splashes almost happen all by itself on my page. There are times though that I use splashes to emphasize or create a certain effect or atmosphere. It all depends on the sketch or painting.  I notice that it has become very fashionable in the sketching world to use splashes which is great. But sometimes a sketch can look out of sorts with splashes, which either don’t fit the style of painting or the subject doesn’t ask for splashes, and so it appears on sketches just because it is fashionable. I love my splashes, but I don’t use them every time and with every subject.  I would like to see that watercolor work  show more discretion when using splashes, before it ruins an already perfect watercolour painting or sketch.

Old french bowls 1…without any splashes. This sketch was done using watercolor, watercolorpencils and white gouache. I overworked the sketch somewhat, so the bottom bowl started losing its shape.

Old French bowls 1-001

Old French bowls 2, without any splashes. Mixed media – watercolour, watercolour pencils and white gouache.Old French bowls 2-001

Old french bowls 3, with blue splotches and 1 red splash which I added simply to “accompany” my signing). I used only watercolour and pen for this sketch

Old French bowls 3-001

Old french bowls 4, with brown spatters on the right side, dark red splotches at the bottom and 1 lilac splash(for my name). In my opinion, on this sketch, less spattering or even none would have been fine, I added the spatters etc for demonstration.

Old French bowls 40002-001

When working in watercolor, I use only one brush, usually my Rosemary sable 12. My splashes are done right at the end with the same brush. Depending on the subject and the atmosphere I want to add to my sketch/painting, I choose from 3 different types of splashes. I call them for my own use, splashes, splotches and spatters.

*Splotches are the small, smaller then the splashes, but bigger, but bigger than the small spatters. To get these dropletys, I load my brush a fair amount of water and colour and hold the brush up straight while I shake the brush in quick upward and downward movements to release the droplets.


*Spatters are those tiny droplets that sometime happen a line or a curve. I get them by loading my brush with not too much water and then flick my finger on the brush to spatter the colour, which most of the time, are small droplets which end up in a line on the paper.

SpattersSplashes are the large round drops dropped from a high distance above the paper. I fill the brush with color and water, stand up over the paper to keep my eye on the spot I want to drop a splash and press the brush at the tip to form a drop which splashes on the paper.

SplashesI have chosen some of my sketches to show the effect of leaving out splashes or adding them.

To illustrate some of my splashes and splotches etc, here are some of my previous work.

Two Siberian iris sketches – Left: Only 2 big splashes. The line work and minimalist appearance of the sketch doesn’t welcome tiny spatters of colour, it would only distract. Right: The more loose watery interpretation allows for some large splashes as well as some spattering. It adds to a frivolous interpretation and could suggest  picking of the irises, blowing in the wind, petals falling…movement.

iris reticulata iris reticulata-001

Some more examples of where splashes work and where not:

In the bottom sketch, splashes don’t belong..it is already a very busy sketch with lots of information.

Le Pescher Maison 6466x4910

The sunflower just asks for some splattering…suggesting bees working, pollen blowing in the wind, petals falling off… movement.envelope to vivien0001In the sketch below, I used only a green splash and blue splotches to suggest sky and leaves and I like the effect of stark lines with the contrasting wild bursts of colour.

bretnoux la post

I hope this explained a bit my thinking and use of splashes, splotches and spatters.

Until next time