I am sort of fascinated by flower farms at present, whether it is bulb flowers or lavender or other types, such as daisies for bouquets. The lines of color and how to represent them is a challenge. Here, we are looking across the fields – the rows are running parallel to the horizon. Still, there is depth here, and I would think the rows would be evident, however subtly. Well, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, but decided to add ink and some white to it, along with a lot of birds. In looking at it, I realize the foreground needs to simplified and in my mind’s eye, I have some ideas.
The other day at the store I picked up small, individual bouquets of chamomile and red carnations (probably really dianthus, a member of the same flower group). The leaves of each are vastly different, with the chamomile more “leafy” and the carnation’s longer and pointy. I took my time with this painting this morning – took a photograph of the flowers – and studied things a bit before diving in. I didn’t do a value study, but tried to determine value from the photo.
I began with an overall wash for most of the areas with color – greens, reds, and yellow dots. From there, negative painting and deepening colors in an attempt to show depth. Not quite there – a bit too tight for my tastes – but I do feel it was a moderately successful study. Waiting between the washes was a bit trying on my patience!
Yesterday’s tulips were accompanied by red and yellow flowers, some negative painting, and color combining. I used reds and yellows (which ones, I forget) and some Pyrrol Orange to make the flowers. Thinking of black-eyed Susans, I used black for the flowers’ centers on the daisy-like ones. What are the red ones? Good question!
What I did here was try to work from large masses of color to details, top to bottom, and having things dry to a certain point before adding more color unless I wanted them to bleed. White space, too, was thought about. Near and far, even with a rather shallow depth of field, was pondered, and the idea was to use cold colors – such a cold yellow or green – to make something recede – and warm colors to bring things forward. Light and dark were also used in an attempt to achieve this effect.
One thing I have always loved is the countryside. Open spaces. Wild flowers. Weeds. Where I live, you can find them, but they are the dry places of the West. I have a longing for the plains and grasses, green trees and rain. Peter Sheeler’s video catches a glimpse of this.
Here is my version below. Part of me wants to paint the flowers, but thought it best to stop here. I like the feeling that you have just climbed a hill, and there this scene is at the top, and you look way beyond . . .
I am an unabashed Charles Reid fan when it comes to instruction books and videos and style in watercolor. I love his loose style and the way his colors flow in and out of each other without getting muddy. Honestly, I am really a novice when it comes to watercolor painting – and mud is my usual result. Somewhere in the past 6 months a part of me just quit worrying about what I produce, and this gave me the freedom from self-criticism (and condemnation) about what results I get. I don’t care anymore, and this freedom is opening up doors which have been slammed shut by my unrealistic and unrelenting worrying. It’s a great feeling!
Having a bunch of watercolors and supplies on hand, I dug out some water brushes and my traveling palette. Out on the patio, with earphones on to listen to a spy novel, a bunch of paper towels and some water, I pulled out Reid’s book. My watercolor pads came along with me, as did my coffee, water bottle, drawing pencils and who knows what else. The verbal distractions of the audiobook keep me from getting too emotional about my practice pages. I propped up Flower Painting in Watercolor and got to work, reading captions and color suggestions, drew some rough sketches from Reid’s exercises, and got to work.
I think one of the hardest things to do is to leave white paper. I just want to paint it all up. And I also want to just keep going on – and this creates mud – without pause for paper to dry and paint to settle. Rush, rush!
Well, I did succeed somewhat. The crocuses above are one of Reid’s studies, and I was pretty pleased with it. In reality, it doesn’t look half as good as the photo, but then it is on a piece of messy paper with scribbles on it and test swatches of color.
This was a quick study, more white space being left open. I went back after I finished this study to use my pencil to add some shape to the white flowers. I like lines – and it is a problem I find with my own sense of a “successful” painting – I need lines to define things. Sometimes lines work – sometimes they don’t – but I do love the Renaissance ink studies I’ve seen, and lines have always held my eye. Lines are expressive – but so are shapes of color.
Here, simply color shapes to imply a flower or a leaf. My experience in sumi-e brush painting makes my understanding of controlling a brush – even an inexpensive water brush with nylon bristles – much easier.
One thing Reid pulls out is shapes without definition – just implication of form. This is great practice for my line addiction!
Another issue I find is contrast and value. It’s hard for me to really get these right in a painting. Reid mentions he makes his dark not super dark – not black – but installs a medium dark early on to establish value. I struggle with this but with more practice I think I will get better at this.
And here is the last one . . . not the best, but one which does have some good areas of contrast, and black lines from an India-ink pigmented pen. Sketchy, painterly, and totally fun to do!
Quality paper is a must-have. I have some tablets that I bought which I absolutely hate because of the texture and sizing in the paper. However, I used them up and ordered more of the Canson’s Montval paper, in a spiral booklet form, 9×12 with 20 pages. It’s a good working size – and it’s good paper, with a nice texture and sizing which doesn’t blotch up and look horrible. It’s also very reasonably priced. The Schmincke paint box may have Schmincke paints in them – or not. My paint supplies include Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Holbein, and M. Graham professional-grade watercolors.
I’m glad I sat down to paint – it’s such a wonderful feeling and one which gives me satisfaction. Did I produce anything worthy of framing? Not at all. But working with my hands, seeing some success, is something which cannot be described – only experienced. You know what I mean! It’s like love!