Isolation Pictures – April

So, in my last post I said that it was difficult to know what would come next and guessed that I’d be plundering old sketch books and photographs. I also noted that the garden could provide the opportunity for some close to home en plein air work. The weather has gone through a spell of bright sunny days and the its seemed daft to be painting in the studio when the spring flowers have been so vivid and cheering.

So far I have had most success and pleasure from zooming in and doing flower studies. These are not precise, like botanical studies, but I have striven for a level of detail that makes them recognisable. As well as the watercolour pans (which I refill fill from tubes) I have made liberal use of acrylic inks, pen and wax crayon.

I have largely dropped the use of masking fluid in my landscapes and figure work. My first attempt was of one of the flowerbeds in my developing mixed media style.

Flowerbed

Flowerbed

For me the close ups work much better, or rather I enjoy doing them more. I have, however had to adapt my approach.

I always do a preliminary sketch. These are essential, they enable an exploration of composition lighting – essentially a design process – and additionally they help one to understanding and internalise the subject. Its almost as though the hand eye links get established in advance.

I do a foundational sketch on the support, this needs to be enough to guide but light to be painted over.

I use a masking fluid to reserve the big shapes, which are the flowers. When that’s dry, and it dries fast in decent weather, I can apply a liberal amounts of wax, water colour and inks to the background. The background stays abstract; essentially what I’m doing is limiting the depth of field in the same one might with a close up using a camera.

Then I add in the flowers which are the main subjects and focal points. All of these were completed en plein air, alla prima. I may well attempt some more detailed studies in the studio using these sources if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Tulips and Tulips II

We have Tulips in beds and in pots. These are both afternoon pictures. The first is at the end of the garden and was completed late in the afternoon. The second is near the house, earlier as the wall shadow v=creates full shade by 4-00pm.

14×10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour and Inks. 1 hour and 2 hour en plein air, alla prima studies.

Tulips

Tulips II

Clematis

Early afternoon. We have a Montana that goes berserk at this time of year. Unfortunately most of the flowers have migrated next door.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Clematis

Wallflowers

The wallflowers are a morning glory. Our garden faces due south and the wall casts a shadow that grows in size as the day moves on past noon.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Wallflowers

Forrest Flame

This old friend has been guarding the entrance to the patio for many years and never fails to look splendid at this time of year.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Forrest Flame

Cherry Blossom

The columnar cherry was one of our first plantings. Its been pruned hard 2 times in 30 years but maintains its shape and always delivers a huge amout of blossom. Morning.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Cherry Blossom

Bluebells 

Ok they are Spanish bluebells, paler blue and waxy compared to our native ones. I like them in a garden setting and since we inherited them they have spread. These is some evidence of hybridisation in the remoter patches where there are some smaller and darker flowers.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

 

Bluebells

 

Bush Anemone

At the bottom of the garden a Bush Anemone comes over the wall from next door. It doesn’t smell like the mock orange behind it but is does look lovely.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Bush Anemone wm

And just to prove the point

The garden has been a real boon and the good weather couldn’t be ignored so all these studies were done from life.

April Flowers WIP

 

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