Wednesday, 23 November 2011

...and a couple more rosehips

After my foray into the berries and ripe rosehips, I found a couple of under-ripe rosehips which had a lovely tinge of yellowy/green and a gorgeous round shape. using just a few colours to achieve the colour on the fruit prevented overworking, a muddy finish and, hopefully kept things fresh.


Firstly, I applied a pretty strong mix, (be brave!) of Indanthrene Blue, Cadmium Yellow Light with a touch of Perylene Maroon over a glaze of water. As this dried I dropped in a lighter mix of Winsor Lemon with just a dot of the green mix to create the lighter side of the hip where the light fell. Using a damp brush I pulled out some of the colour from the centre to create the shine. Getting the timing of this bit right has been trial and error and control is the key., I have taken a few tips from the short clip by Billy Showell, which helped a lot.

Building up the strong green by adding more blue and a touch of Neutral Tint, leaving a slight 'halo' to the edge and keeping away from the highlights and the yellow enphasized the roundness. A couple of washes of Umber with other 'neutral / brown ' mixes finished the sketches off.

Monday, 21 November 2011

...and more berries

Painting the snowberries proved to be a bit more of a challenge than I had expected. The whiteness of the berries against the white paper meant I needed to concentrate on the colours within the reflected light and shadows. Blue, pink and a tinge of ochre appeared and although I tried to use a light touch, I did get a bit carried away and now the berries look a bit grey on close inspection. I kept the leaves underworked to keep a lighter feel but again, my favourite Indanthrene Blue with a touch of Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow Light proved to be perfect for the job.  

A Winter Mixture (may be nice on Christmas cards for the family)

Rosehips from a wild dog rose proved a better choice and I had great fun mixing the gorgeous orangey-reds. Recently, I have been experimenting with Sennelier colours and their Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow Light proved excellent for the basis of the mixes for these rosehips and hawthorn berries. Winsor & Newton Brown Madder is a really rich, covering colour that worked well in the mixes, and was useful for adding depth to the rosehips, while Alizarin Crimson added a pinky hue to the hawthorn. Keeping lots of white paper for the shine on the little cluster of hawthorn berries looked quite nice as the colour spread around and actually behaved itself for once.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bountiful Berries

November here has been unseasonably warm and many trees still have all of their leaves, whilst others in the garden are completely bare. What's going on? It was warmer than Naples and Venice at the weekend, that's just not right. There should have been frost by now. No wonder people think us Brits are obsessed with the weather.  

At least there are plenty of berries abound in the garden. The feathered friends are having a fine old time of it, munching away on a wide variety of luscious little fruits that are coming into their own just now and the colours are also a welcome sight. They bring much needed cheerful brightness to the garden on the short, dull, sunless days of winter.

'Blueberries', sketchbook detail

Of course, as many of us are now into the full swing of preparing for Christmas and other winter festivals, Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are the popular choices for decoration around the home and on cards. Rosehips, Snowberry, cotoneaster, firethorn, hawthorn and honeysuckle also produce gorgeous fruits and berries that provide great subjects for painting. As I hadn't tackled too many berries since my initial foray into blueberries, I started a few more.

Hypericum (Tutsan) berries. In winter these
berries turn to a deep purply-black

'Snowberry'. Sketchbook work in progress November 2011
White berries, like this Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) are difficult to capture as much of the colour is produced by reflected light and shade and white-on-white is always tricky, (trust me there is a blue/green hue to these berries). There are a few varieties that have pink berries with Symphoricarpos 'Mother of Pearl' bearing gorgeous flushed berries. I would love to have one of these in the garden but alas, the alba will have to do. 

Symphoricarpos 'Mother of Pearl'
image courtesy of williams nursery

Blackberries, October 2011
(A little too much of a white 'halo' around the druplets)


Friday, 11 November 2011

The Art of Poppies

It is a pity that poppies are no longer found in great abundance in fields across Britain. A once common sight en-route to childhood holidays, carpets of bright red poppies made a cheering diversion. However, their large, papery blooms lasting for just one day make them a challenging subject for painters. 

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, (today is the unique date of 11/11/2011 with weddings galore in Gretna Green!!),  I wondered how other artists have tackled the tricky little blighters and depicted poppies in art. Here are a few of my favourites. 
Oriental Poppies,
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder

I love Dame Elizabeth's work, but this painting by Jan Harbon is a particular favourite. I love the way some of the petals are faded to almost nothing, a technique I would love to try on some of my own work.
'Poppies II' by Jan Harbon

Poppies © Gillian Daynes SBAPaintings of poppies were everywhere at the SBA show this year, with this gorgeous example from Gillian Daynes SBA being one of a stunning array. Other artists exhibiting luscious poppies included Linda Patterson SBA and Hilary Price FSBA among others.

'Poppy Seed Head' 1999
Brigid Edwards
Shirley Sherwood Collection

This image of a seed head by Brigid Edwards is just gorgeous. The colour and detail is really well observed, particularly with the subtle bloom on the pod. Whenever I see a painting I admire, I always look really closely at the techniques to see if I can improve my own. 

Wild Poppies

'Wild Poppies', Claude Monet 1873     

  Ah, Monet's 'Wild Poppies', enough said!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Not Enough Days in the Month

Well, there it is, I didn't quite manage to complete the 30/30 challenge. Boo. I did give it my best shot and got 22 finished during October and do intend to finish the page over the next few days. It was a lot harder than I had expected, some of the leaves took a good few hours to do and others less than an hour. Busy days also got in the way and I didn't always get the chance to paint, which was frustrating.

Overall though, I am pleased with my progress and I did manage to meet most of my goals. Trying to include as many different shapes and colours was actually quite difficult, and I think some of my neighbours must have thought I had 'lost it' completely when I was spotted rummaging through hedgerows looking for foliage. The mix of leaves look quite nice together and I have tried to tie them all together by using multiples of grasses and clover and a balance of greens and coloured leaves.  When it is finished, I am hoping to make a print of the whole thing.  

Leaves are life size on A3 Fabriano HP 

Capturing, autumn colour without everything turning muddy was also a bit tricky and I had to practice loads of techniques before starting a new leaf just to gain confidence. The colours I used were, Perylene Maroon and Alizarin Crimson for the reds, and Indanthrene Blue with Winsor Lemon or Cadmium Yellow for many of the greens. Paynes Grey, Sap Green, Burnt and Raw Sienna and Umber were also used in mixes and alone for details and washes.Taking on board lots of advice to keep everything fresh by applying colour carefully in layers using lots of water to help the spread of the mixes helped and I cannot thank Mindy Lighthipe enough for all her tips and advice on her blog. Mindy has produced some absolute stunners this year and has used a variety of mediums and techniques. Great stuff and great inspiration, I will definitely have another go next year.   

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Summer's Last Hurrah

As if on cue, the sun came out, (all too briefly) over the weekend, so off I went to capture some of the last that Summer had to offer, (the clocks going back an hour in Britain means an end to the season). Rosa 'Sweet Haze' really is well named. This is a lovely little rose that the bees absolutely adore and so do I. This one was bought at a great plant nursery near my family home in Essex and endured the two hour trip home to Hampshire. It's a robust little thing that has been flowering it's heart out for months and the smell, well simply divine. Sitting in it's pot near the path in the garden, 'Sweet Haze' is always within nose reach for a quick sniff en-route to the veg patch. The last bud is nearly ready and then they will be gone for another year.

No idea what this one is as it was already in the garden when we came. The blooms are looking a bit tired now but I can't blame them, it's getting cold, they have been out for ages and it's time for the last one to finish. Although not quite as picture perfect as 'Sweet Haze', this rose has a gorgeous scent, enormous blooms and, well the stripy colour makes it individual. This year I had considered grubbing it out but now I quite like it. Reprieved!!

Hydrangeas are amongst my favourite flowers. Whether it is just the sheer blowsiness of the flowers, the fact that they last for ages, look great in a vase or are amongst the last of the Summer colour I have no idea, I just love them. This one was a fantastic pink not so long ago and as the flowers fade they take on an interesting skeletal form that will last all winter if left on the plant.

Although I haven't yet tackled a Hydrangea as a subject to paint, (I did paint one of the leaves in my 30/30 challenge)  I have a few around the garden and will enjoy the challenge of giving it a go. To use an old, (and somewhat corny) quote, ..."maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...".