Friday, 17 October 2014

Small is (also) Beautiful

Crikey, is it nearly November already! Where on earth has this year gone? Time is certainly pressing, and these paintings are not going to get themselves done. So, with four down, it's one more to go for the SBA 2015 exhibition. The only thing that niggles at me slightly is the fact that I am producing quite small, single flower portraits. 

Usually at these big annual shows, there is trend just now for a cornucopia of enormous paintings, depicting enlarged subjects that really make a visual impact. Now, I'm not being sniffy about this, as I really like some of these pieces, particularly enjoying the work of Rosie Sanders, (although Rosie hasn't exhibited at the SBA for a few years), Robert McNeill and Fiona Strickland. You certainly can't miss these wall-sized pieces, but how would my smaller pieces fare?

Well, that's the trick you see, because I have no idea. There is such a wide variety of subjects and sizes, but I guess, (along with the quality of your work) there must be some correlation between a successful exhibit and how, (and possibly more importantly, where) your piece is hung. The SBA always have a theme for their annual exhibition, and pieces that best reflect this are hung prominently together, in the main central exhibition space at Westminster Central Hall. This area always seems to be the busiest as there is lots of room to take in all the paintings, it's very bright and light and we always gather here in groups, for a good chat about the pieces. Last year I was just happy, (and relieved) to get all five of my pieces accepted to become an Associate Member, and didn't really tailor my work for the theme.

This year is a bit different. There is still a bit of pressure to get all five accepted for me to become a full member, but also I want to give much more consideration to the theme, 'In Pursuit of Plants'. My 'little works' certainly reflect a certain amount of 'pursuit', quite literally in respect of the iris, as 'Husband' had to go wading into a flood ditch, during an early morning raid to nab one. Well, once it's all painted, beautifully framed and submitted, it really is in the lap of the SBA picture committee gods. So, we will see.

So, onto the progress on Delia, 'The Delightful Dahlia'...(

Did you know that the Dahlia is the national flower of Mexico, or that the tubers were grown by the Aztecs as a food crop?)

Building up the layers of colour to the centre of each petal
A stronger mix of Quinacridone Magenta and Permanent Rose was used here.

Touches of Indanthrene Blue was also added to the mix where a bluer
tone was noted

"The Dahlia you brought to our isle,

Your praises for ever shall speak;

Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,

And in colour as bright as your cheek"

                               Lord Holland (in a note to his wife)

(In 1804, a new species, Dahlia sambucifolia, was successfully grown at Holland House in Kensington, possibly from specimens sent back to England from Madrid by Lady Holland)

The Dahlia Garden at Holland House in 1907
(image c/o Wikimedia)

Dahlia sambucifolia
(image c/o Wikimedia)

Dahlia coccinea
Parent of European 'single' dahlia varieties.
(image c/o Wikimedia)
Single Dahlias really are my favourites,and are so important for bees too.

Ah, I digress, back to Delia

A neutral mix of Perylene Maroon, some of the pink mix and a little
Indanthrene Blue makes a lovely, warm grey,
perfect for the base of the sepals.

Using a dry brush, the streaky look can be maintained.

The right edge of this sepal is kept quite light to note the
petal underneath

Using the ceramic tray is lovely.
The pools and puddles of colour blend easily and almost do the work for me.

Many thanks to a lovely friend for getting a few of these incredibly handy trays for me.
Palette trays can cost a small fortune in art shops,
but these (as she reliably informs me) are actually
from a home ware shop,
and are used to serve food.

A rich mix of Perylene Maroon and Permanent Rose, with
just a touch of the Indanthrene, is used for the body of the sepal.

Again a dry brush was used here to maintain the texture. 

Moving around each of the petals and sepals.
Mostly each one will be finished, before moving to complete the next.

Any adjustment to tone can be completed at the end

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