Autumn Hedgerows…a blackberrying we will go!

I’ve been looking out for signs of Autumn in the hedges and gardens, not only for leaves for the Autumn Leaves workshop but also for my last studio workshop of the year billed as Autumn fruits, flowers, etc.

I walked down to the nearby Grantham canal which has hedges and trees growing along the length of its West Bridgford section. I was amazed at how many different brightly coloured fruits and flowers and leaves I could find with my camera. I saw blackberries growing alongside their flowers even now in October. The berries were in bunches of different shades of green and crimson and purple and the leaves were invariably tinged with reds and browns….very attractive and lovely to paint. There were rose hips and hawthorn berries and white morning glory flowers in different stages of growth. Quite a feast of material to paint.
I’ve posted my painting of blackberries and a photo of hawthorn which I think will make a good ready made composition for another painting.

Painting Cosmos with the Society of Floral Painters

We had a great day’s painting in Bursledon with the Society of Floral Painters and although the paintings were unfinished at the end of our long day’s creative work, they really did make a good show as you can see in the above photo.

I have to say thank you to lovely Ann, the workshop coordinator, who had signed up twelve artists who I could tell were passionately interested in this type of looser flower painting. I think they are normally much more measured and detailed in their work but they are really keen to be “loose women”!
So there were pleas of more water!, more pigment!, go for it!, being heard throughout the day and there was one special moment with Ann where I really think she got the hang of letting that paintbrush have its way on her painting!
I understood more than ever before how watercolour can be used in many different ways, from the one extreme of providing a close academic study of a plant or flower primarily for identification purposes, to the other extreme of allowing the water and pigments to create a set of marks and textures playing together in an abstract design.
Our paintings yesterday were somewhere in between the two. We wanted to create identifiable flower portraits but wanted them to be set in a context where our colours had been allowed to move and mingle in a dreamy background of gorgeous colour combinations and suggestive marks. The viewer could then use their imagination and memory to create the summery flower border that we were evoking.
I hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as I did and that that they felt that the hard work and intense concentration was worth it! (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

Society of Floral Painters workshop coming up…

Today I’m preparing and packing up all my stuff ready to make the journey down to Southampton for a workshop I’m running for the Society of Floral Painters. I’m always delighted to be asked to do this for them as I know that they are great flower lovers and serious floral artists. No pressure there then!

We’re going to be looking at White Cosmos. While I was painting them this summer at the time when they were abundant in the garden, I decided that they would be a good subject to tackle with the SFP members. They are nice simple open flowers in their form so we can enjoy placing them in a more complex background of varied flowers and leaves. Added sunshine should help us produce a fresh, lively painting of an abundant summer border. That’s the plan anyway!
I have used a blue/green palette, led by the muted glaucous greens of the poppy seed heads that were there at the time. This is relieved by the bright yellows of the flower centres.

A good time was had…..

We had a good day today at the Autumn Leaves studio workshop.

Margaret, Christine, Barbara, Megan, Roger, Les and I really went for it with the reds, yellows, oranges, pinks and greens of Autumn. I’ve uploaded their paintings and am really impressed with the high standard of their work.
The studio was awash with brightly coloured leaves and we did them justice. Well done everyone…good job! (Click on the photo to enlarge).

Autumn Leaves….workshop coming soon.

I’ve been looking at leaves and using up my tubes of gold, crimson, yellow, pink, and siennas. I’ll have to get a new stock in for the workshop! But it is great fun. As long as you get the outer shape of the leaf right, (and don’t tell anyone, but a real leaf makes a wonderful template!), then you can go crazy with your colours and textures within the leaf.

In this painting I’ve introduced a bit of structure by putting in some branches and twigs. I like the dark, knobbly shapes of the twigs.

Rainbow Hydrangeas

I had good fun with this yesterday. Used a piece of the back of an old painting and just set off with a little bit of drawing with some watercolour pencils right in the middle plus some loose washes of the different colours I could see in the flowers. Then worked my way out, adding more flowers. I had a vase of about 5 flowers in front of me and I kept turning the vase to get different views. I suppose I was trying to get them to look as if they were growing outside in the garden.

They turn different colours as Autumn advances and they have speckles, and colour changes within each petal. They almost look like a watercolour painting! I like painting them because each flower is made up of several different florets and you can go into the crevices with negative painting to create depth within them.
I used quite a lot of pencil rubbed against sandpaper to make the speckles. Good fun!

Walled Garden workshop debriefing….

There were eight of us, Margaret, Anne, Rosie, Shirley, Marion, Di, Jean and I here in the studio yesterday for the workshop and we did some good work. Everyone ended up with a very decent painting. I’ve uploaded a photo but Jean had to go early and so her lovely painting isn’t there.

(Click on the photo to enlarge and scroll down to the 26 September post to see the photo reference we used.)

It was quite an ambitious project, but I couldn’t resist it as I thought there were so many aspects to get our teeth into. Tree bark catching the light, flower borders to be loosely summarised, leaves silhouetted and falling naturally, figures to give it life and the cast shadows across the lawn.
Di said that she would never have attempted such a subject but in fact she ended up with a very beautiful convincing painting.
We all enjoyed a delicious lunch thanks to lovely Andrew!
Well done everyone! You did work hard but it paid off!