Irises update

I’ve been deeply immersed in Irises , working on two paintings at once.

At the beginning of the week, I finished off a painting that I had started some weeks ago, not to say months, as a way of getting used to Irises again and their forms and how to best render these complicated flowers.

Here are the stages

The finished painting.  Blue Irises
I think these flowers are very popular when painted.  They are such beautiful forms and to think that these petals all unfurl from quite small buds and finish up as a mass of frilliness and beauty.  They are astonishing and fascinating at the same time.
Now I am tackling the large half sheet Irises painting.  Still some way to go…
Here’s the daffs painting. I’m calling it Hopes of Spring. It will always be redolent of the sadness caused by the events in Paris. But hope springs eternal and Spring flowers are a nice emblem of this.

Hopes of Spring
It was a very interesting exercise in tones and how one tone effects another in a painting as you go along.
I think the putting in the shadow first worked ok.  I will perhaps upload a series of WIPs over the next few days for those who are interested in the progression.
Hope you like the painting as much as I enjoyed making it.
I now have an assignation with a certain half sheet Irises drawing waiting with a challenging look about it.  
Can’t wait to get started!

Work in progress on the daffodils

It was such a sad and disturbing day yesterday with the happenings in Paris.  I was shocked into silence and quiet thoughts as I guess many of us were.

But today is a new day and with gratitude for being safe and at peace here, I am back working on the daffodils.

By the way Hello to the new members who have joined…so glad to have you following!

The daffodils at the window painting has been progressing.

I masked out the brightest areas first.

Then I started in an unusual and quite risky way by laying in the shadows over the whole painting with a mix of ultramarine. some pink and some burnt sienna.  I ignored the local colour, screwed up my eyes and just painted the darker tones.

Then when that was dry I started putting in some local colour straight over the dark tonal mix.  In the photo below the masking fluid is still on.
More tomorrow!

Promises, promises…

I promised that I would tell you about my day to day art activities, whether you like it or not!, so here’s today’s update.

The start of the new year has done the trick and I seem to be falling over myself finding new subjects that inspire at the moment.  It is weird how this happens and I think the longer your fallow period has been, the more of an avalanche you experience when you get back to it.  Ideas seem to be popping up all over.

A trip to Attenborough (which is a nature reserve on the River Trent close by us in Nottingham) on Sunday was a nice interlude.  Strange weather with bright sunshine one minute and then a thick mist the next making the scene eerily quiet and almost spooky.

Eerie mist at Attenborough
But it all helped with the inspiration I think. 
 Home and straight into the studio to get on with my Irises composition.  A new composition is complete and transferred to watercolour paper.
New Irises composition
It is a very large composition and I’m a bit scared of it!  Very detailed drawing, difficult not to do that with irises, but I want to paint it in a looser way.  And what about the background?  the jury is still out about that.  Will it be an actual scene in the background, ie my garden and hedge, or will it be loose and indeterminate?
In the meantime I am taken by the daffodils by a sunny window that I did as a tonal sketch the other day.  The sketch has shown me that it could work as a watercolour.  So I have been transferring the sketch on to transfer paper to put on to my watercolour sheet.
I’m keeping up with the #sketchjanuary activity on Twitter as well and decided to do this sketch of some irises while watching TV!
Just before that I spent an hour or so doing a watercolour sketch that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time of the ancient groynes that we can see out of the window on the beach at Sovereign Harbour.  I took a close up photo and loved the rusty nuts and bolts, thinking that I could interpret them with wet in wet washes.
I slept well last night!

Social media… time wasting or creatively inspiring?

Bit of an obscure title to this post, I grant you but it’s an ongoing question in peoples’minds right now.

Example today.  I did finally get to the studio this afternoon after a walk and brunch at wonderful Attenborough nature reserve (More of that tomorrow),  But instead of going on with the irises painting, I was sidetracked by something I’ve got involved with on Twitter.

They have these great ongoing daily sketching challenges.  There was #stilldecember last month and now it’s #sketchjanuary.  People upload work they’ve done that day.  To be honest I don’t really know how it works yet as, with Twitter, nobody can explain much in 140 words, so I’m at a loss, but I’m just joining in anyway!

Anything that makes you sketch and draw daily is a good thing, so even though it has that ring of “showing off” to it, well who cares if it makes you produce work and practise?

So I started a sketch last night from a photo that I’ve had hanging around for ages and keep looking at thinking, hmmm that’s nice, would make a nice watercolour.  Here it is

Lovely isn’t it with the sunshine showing up the daffs and the long shadows.  So I got involved with this and found it was very complicated for a start and then discovered lots of other things.  Such as how difficult drawing is when you want to introduce tone and shadows.  What about local colour?  How do you show the colour of the darker trumpets without a handy wash of  pigment?  How do you differentiate the local colour from the different tones?
Come back watercolour all is forgiven!  But it just goes to show that you…or I actually…have to keep practising all the different disciplines, not just watercolour to keep up the skill set.
Anyway here’s my drawing.  I’m calling it a tonal sketch for a watercolour, which gives me loads of excuses for bad work!  (I also took the photo practically in the dark on this wintry afternoon so there’s another excuse!)
But look out for more sketches as I have to keep up with my social media obligations, you know!

Irises, don’t you just love them?

Well I’ve made it to the studio again today and have been here most of the day, which is an achievement, trust me!

I’ve been working out a new composition for a large iris painting.  I’m aware of how much people like Irises and I just love drawing and painting them, so they are my subject for the time being.  Getting used to the fact that I am painting these as I want and not how they would best come over for a class of students.

Last year I took an A4 photocopy of an iris drawing I made based on a photo taken in my garden to Staples.  I had it enlarged to A3 so that it would be the basis of a large painting.  Then I didn’t get around to painting it!  So today I have been having another look.

Obviously and sadly, there are no irises to be seen at the moment so I’m using a number of clear photos of which I have taken many over the years to make a composition.

You have to be careful when you don this.  Two things are important.

Scale and lighting.  The irises have to fit in with each other size wise and they have to be lit from the same side so that the lighting is consistent throughout the painting.

I’m enjoying the challenge but as you can see, I am thoroughly bogged down in Irises.  Things could be worse!

New Year and the Best of Intentions

One of my intentions this year is to write often about what I’m doing on my blog and share my daily routine as well as hints and tips about what I’m painting currently.

There are two things that we should be grateful for in this life, I reckon…first that we have changing seasons to renew our enthusiasm and love of nature and the world around us,

and second,

that we have the start of a new year every 365 days to mark the best of intentions for the future.  A fresh start, lovely!

So today felt like the start of something new and I had a burst of enthusiasm for painting.

Goodness knows I have a lot to get on with as I’m going to do an exhibition in early March at the Nottingham Society of Artists gallery.  I’m sharing the space with John Pooler for a week.

There usually is a painting or two lying around waiting to be finished and so today I finished these two which had been vain attempts to get going again after a fallow period.

Anyway here they are

Daisies by the Water
Roses and Buds
My next project will be to do a large painting if Irises that I have had the drawing prepared for since last year!  I need one or two large statements for the exhibition.  So looking forward to that.  I’ll keep you posted.