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.
I have a tendency to become tight the more I work. It is just one of those inevitable things. So I often have to change mediums and styles and experiment in other ways to loosen up again. I have notice with my sketching that I have become tight again. Normally I would change to oils and go do some plein air which helps, but with the bad weather, I had to divert to other options. As I was watching the horses walking all over our well the other day, I saw a contrast of grey sky and a line of white lace flowers and the green fields and it stirred the desire to put that onto paper by using the opaque gouache, a medium I quite like, exactly for its “experimental” qualities. It opens up possibilities to take it further into oils.
The following gouache experiments were all done in sketchbooks
After sitting outside, I moved in, bringing in some of the woildflowers now in seaspon and trying to create the broad bands of colour..the greens, the blues and of course the shapes, not worrying too much about authenticity. It was all just about colour and application with a loose wrist and finally some line squiggles, which I always love. For the dark lines I initially used inks, but it didn’t work too well on top of the gouche, so I used a dark mixture(which I alwyas use in oils for black) of Burnt unber, alizarin crimson and french ultramarine which always gives a rich dark black.
with this experiment, I used the gouache much more diluted to get more “wispy” horizons as a back drop for the lace flowers. Well, I don’t know what those funny linework at the bottom is all about, but at the time I felt in the mood for it.
This was a lot of fun and really something I will explore deeper, maybe on much lager scale with oils..and added animals…Many options in fact.
The rain came down by the buckets today. Beautiful of course, the rain, but not when you are on a roll and want to be in plein air, sketching or painting. I drank a cafe at out local café, waited for the rain to stop. Went home, waited for the skies to clear; Had another coffee. Starred out my back door, my only door…and looked into the old worn porcherie, or old pighouse if you will. It will be fixed up one day, but for the moment its dilapidated charm will be immortalized on paper. Not the best sketch ever, but the goal wasn’t a great sketch today, it was all about the paper..so there we have it. Just half of a porcherie. And three cows.
..Stillman and Birn Alpha series, vellum surface, 22.9×15.2cm..
..Close-up of the watercolor on the paper..
I went for the Alpha Stillman & birn sketchbook today, a real charmer! Much happier than yesterday with the Epsilon. It has a Vellum texture which is satiny an beautiful to work with in watercolors…like the HP of Arches and Fabriano. I like the color and yes…beautiful granulation…see the blue sky in the close-up above. (Even though it was a grey rainy day, I wanted to see what the paper does with cerulean blue which is known for having lovely granulation..on the right paper). The book opens nice and flat and I am surprised at how much water it can actually take, because I worked with even more water today than usual, really giving this little book a challenge. The buckling is present, but as already said, buckling in a sketchbook doesn’t bother me. All in all, a nice book for watercolor sketches and saying that only after one try, says a lot for me. I am an Arches and Fabriano HP fan and it takes a lot to convince me of something else better…or as good! Snob!!
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.