Sunday, 1 February 2015

Christmas Roses in Watercolour : Hellebore

 Hellebore flowers coming to life on my easel

It is cold outside. Far too cold to tempt me to sit outside to paint. But annoyingly a bright white flower has caught my eye and I haven't been able to ignore it. From the kitchen window of my cottage I can see this  beautiful white flower standing proudly in the flower bed outside, bravely facing the snow and drop in temperature this week.

At first I made a quick watercolour sketch of the flower in situ. And I must admit it was a very quick painting. Then I picked the flower and brought it into my studio as painting with gloves on isn't really my thing!  Once inside, in the warm I could think about how the flower grew naturally and work with the colours from my quick sketch.

My observation of the plant itself taught me that even though it would be lovely to paint a perfect bloom, this flower is far from that. Edges of some of the petals  were brown, effected by the frost. These blemishes added to the flowers beauty for me so I added them in my painting.

Frost bitten petal edges

I started two paintings using two of my favourite techniques.  The study on the left, below, is worked from a starting point and then building up the painting from there. The centre of the flower was my first place to add colour and the petals built up around this section, leading to  then adding an interesting background. The study on the right is created by painting a beautiful background surrounding  the form of the flower, created as a negative edge.

 Two techniques. Working from a starting point and working around a negative edge by painting the background first.

  Both paintings have their own beauty so far. The light on each is very important to me. As it is such a dull day I am almost having to invent where sunlight would be hitting the flower. Even typing the word " sunshine" feels good in Winter!

Negative edge painting, with colour from the background allowed to flow into  a few of the upper petals.

I have found that the more I paint, the further away  I have grown from working with photographs. When I very first started painting, having a collection of photographs that inspired me seemed so very important. Now,in a way, I see working from photographs has actually held me back at times. Only by looking at life can I really gain a true feel for my subjects. And only be seeing and observing each detail can I bring life into my results with interesting colour combinations that are missing from photographic images.

So my artist tip for the day ?

Forget all those photographs and start painting from life. It is so much more rewarding! Unless of course you are painting elephants or wildlife that doesn't sit still. But even then, see it for real if you can rather than paint from a source that isn't personally connected to you. Your artistic results will benefit and whats' more, be totally yours!

Be unique!


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