Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Working With Foxgloves in Watercolour

 Foxglove paintings developing on my easel
The smaller study is of a wild pink foxglove set in Autumnal woodland. They are quite small and compact in shape compared  to when they flowered earlier this year.
The large painting is of  giant white foxgloves flowering in my garden borders still.

Yesterday my garden flowed into my studio as flower paintings developed one after the other. In the  woodland section at the foot of our garden wild pink foxgloves are in bloom again regardless of the fact that we are now in the Autumn phase of the year. In the more formal flower beds, tall towers of regal white foxgloves still bloom above the other summer flowers Many should have disappeared by now.

I am finding it impossible to focus on my other work as I know time is running out where I can paint these subjects from life.

Why is it so important to me to paint from a subject I can see in reality rather than from a photograph? The answer is simple. A photograph is flat.  Many paintings created from working from images often appear flat also. This can be avoided but not without practise from painting from life first as often as possible. New artists  often observe the darks in a photograph and add them to their compositions too heavily which can kill the gorgeous results they could have gained.

Working from life teaches me to really observe.  I see where shadows fall and melt away. I see how colours can fuse together. But most importantly I create. I use my own imagination to see what I wish to portray and  can define which elements will work for me well and which I can discard.

All the established artists I admire have worked whilst painting from life. When I was learning I often worked from a photograph believing this was the best way for me to study subjects and capture them in watercolour.  It felt " safer"  and I kidded myself that as many others learnt this way I could too. It is only now years later that  I wish I hadn't spent so much time in my early years as an artist working from images as this did not aid my style or career. In many ways I feel it held me back.

To fly as an artist you really have to learn to see. With your own eyes allowing your imagination to flow into your creations.

Yesterday the wild, pink foxgloves were set amongst falling oak leaves from the grand old oak trees in the garden whilst the white were set against gorgeous dark blue green shrubbery. I painted the backgrounds yesterday knowing today I could add the flower detail. If I paint these again in the future the light from the garden yesterday will always be in my mind.the feeling of sunshine hitting my face when Winter is around the corner just added to my day.

Foxgloves  with background  in place ready for the final detail to be added to the flowers.
I don't use masking fluid as I believ eit kills my sense of creativity almost like working with a pencil sketch can. I avoid restrictions to the freedom I feel when I paint. The darks are pure wtaercolour gained by working in bold application  of layers of gorgeous shades to create impact and drama.

When I finished painting I moved  a few foxglove seedlings and transplanted them. This means that next year I will have more painting days like this to look forward to and the opportunity to invite artist friends to paint them with me. Sharing moments like this on and off screen is such a privilege.

 I am learning still because I saw colour combinations while I worked that I had not even considered before. Colours that I could see in my sleep. If I painted every minute of every day I would never begin to touch the surface of all the possibilities out there for  amazing compositions.

But I aim to try!


Whatever it is try painting just one small object from life whenever you can. No matter what your results are and what happens, you grow so much by these small experiments!

1 comment:

D-Ana Fernandez said...

Wise words! I believe that to paint from life teaches very much. That "looking" and use own imagination it is learned . And little by little this is obvious in your art, I think.
Have a day full of art!