Wednesday 27 February 2019

Getting going after a break

Sometimes life takes turns that you have to take in your stride. At the beginning of December I had to have surgery which, though successful, left me with very low energy levels. 
While recuperating, I spent some time painting in watercolour and working with Procreate on a few digital portraits. 

I had abandoned my easel, canvases and oil paints, preferring to work with mediums more suitable to painting while away from my studio. (I spent the six weeks when I was unable to drive with my daughter and her family - and thoroughly enjoyed being with them over the holidays) 

After spending some time getting the Studio classes running, I decided that it was time to get back to painting. I realised with a shock that the last time I had worked on a canvas was at the end of October when I started a large abstract. 

Such a long break from a painting means that, in the interim, you have really lost your way. I couldn’t feel what I felt more than three months ago. I looked around the studio and discovered two small panels that been given a layer of underpainting. I realised that if I started with a surface that had already been painted this would be less intimidating. 

I had been wanting to paint King Proteas for some time. They remind me of South Africa and I love the strong design coupled with their soft colours. I found an old photograph to use as reference. (I couldn’t bring myself to pay an eye-watering amount for a couple of fresh blooms #sorrynotsorry!)

Here are some photos showing the progress of the painting. This panel had been covered in a very random application of paint applied with both brush and palette knife - and full disclosure here - I used up paint left on the palette from another painting)

Fig. 1.                                                                                   Fig. 2

In Fig.1 the random brushstrokes are visible, particularly on the left hand side and the form of the blooms have been drawn roughly with a brush. I worked directly from my photographic reference. I soon realised that the jug was creating an imbalance in the design.

Fig. 2 shows the addition of a couple of glasses in an attempt to correct this problem. I still did not like the design.

I turned to Procreate where I tried an alternative composition before attempting the changes on the painting. I copied the jug, and moved it to the left of the glass vase. 

Fig.3.                                                                                     Fig. 4 Proteas with a jug  

                                                                                              oil on panel 405 mm x 405 mm

Happier with the changes that I had done in the digital version, I painted out the jug, adding stronger darker value blocks of colour. Where the jug would be, I prepared the area by adding the same pinks and yellows that had been present in the original jug. Once that layer of paint was dry I could add the lines of the jug. 

I had a second panel which had an under painting of bright blues and pinks. Lovely photos of peonies in a bucket that provided the perfect inspiration - they would be perfect with the colours of the under painting. Since I wanted to keep the painting loose, I did no drawing at all, and simply added areas of free brushstrokes. 

Fig. 5                                                                                  Fig. 6 Pink Peonies in a bucket - 
                                                                                           oil on panel 500 mm x 500 mm

One thing I love about painting is that each time you face a new canvas you can reinvent your story - the work can be detailed and defined or it can be very loose and almost abstract. 

You might remember some other peony paintings - this one Damask Peony - oil on canvas 900 mm x 900 mm which features a single huge bloom or this watercolour and ink Peonies. The links will take you to blog posts about these paintings.

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