Friday, 4 July 2014

The Garden as Inspiration and Respite

A garden can be a wonderful respite from the day to day routines and work.  A significant thing for me and many other people is that it can also be a place to go, apart from the four walls of your house when you are restricted to your home through ill health.  This can have an impact no matter how long that restriction can be - it can be a week, a month, or even longer.

Our garden is small and is sort of a 1/4 of a circle in shape.  It looks as though it takes a lot of work, but believe me, it is quite manageable.  The advantage being that when we re-designed it two years ago we filled it with perennial plants. The majority of them come up year after year, and some of them are packed tightly, so there are no room for weeds - hence not a lot of weeding is done !  Other delights include planting annuals in the many pots.

The garden during the day ......
and in the evening, just after watering - peaceful
Each year there are many subjects from my garden that I would love to paint, and I am finding that sometimes the pictures created from them may be created over several seasons or even over a couple of years.
One such subject is a David Austin rose called The Lady's Blush.  This I bought as a bedraggled specimen from the garden centre, looking very sorry for itself and bonus, it was also reduced to half price.  I didn't hold out much hope for it.  It bloomed last year but then had wilt and later on produced a few lovely red hips.  This year I have certainly not been disappointed and it has had so many blooms on it - and no wilt !
I had painted a sketch of the hip last Autumn so I had that to use, and a few weeks ago I set to composing a picture of several elements of the plant.  I didn't think too much about composition, I just wanted it to evolve and most of all I really wanted to enjoy painting it.

Left - the rose hip painted last year in my Zeta sketchbook.  The other 4 pictures show how I painted the hip in the main painting.  Initially I dampened the paper, let the sheen of the water go off a bit, and then added cerulean blue (where the highlight is), pyrrol red (DS) and Sennelier yellow light.  Further areas of colour included pyrrol orange (DS), quinacridone gold (DS) and perylene maroon(W&N).  I used a size 2 brush first (Isabey Series 6228) and then used a size 1 spotter (Rosemary brushes).
Development of the bloom.  The colour of this rose is what I call a gentle pink.  I had the perfect colour in my palette - rhodonite genuine by DS.  Again, I moistened the petal area I was working on first and then carefully laid on the colour.  The advantages to wetting the paper beforehand are: 1)  It slows the drying time in this hot weather 2) It allows more manoeuvrability of the paint on the paper, most importantly, it is easier to create a softer transition between the edge of the paint where it meets the paper.  This applies to the areas of the petals that I wanted to retain as white (the colour of the paper) or paler colours.
I also added a shadow colour to the petals where it was needed.  I tend to steer away from shadows normally, but I took a deep breath and mixed up a colour.
To create a neutral or shadow mix I would normally use my 3 main cool colours or my 3 main warm colours.  This time I decided to take a short cut - I used shadow violet (DS) with a touch of the rhodonite genuine in it, and watered it down considerably.  I think it works ....... maybe.
As I mentioned before, I took a freer approach to composition, this led me to adding some of the stamens.  These were so small, pale and delicate that I also used some of the shadow mix to give the impression they were laying on the paper.
There were also tiny red glandular hairs around the edges of the sepals.  The spotter brush came in handy for these too !
The finished piece - with a little scroll added to finish it off.
As you can see from the above montage, there is plenty to keep me going.  Not all of these are on the painting list but what better way to paint a flower than to have the scent of chocolate wafting over the paper.  Yes a flower that smells of chocolate !  The plant concerned is the Chocolate Cosmos (the small picture centre bottom).
Well, what's next ?  Some painting of birds, course planning for the next academic year and some very special planning of artwork for next year's exhibitions !  Oh and of course, next week Sketchbook Squirrel is paying me and the garden a visit - can't wait !


  1. A gorgeous rose, and painted so beautifully! I hope that you're on the mend at last. I'm sure that a visit from our squirrel friend will bring laughter and of course cake.

    1. Thanks Shevaun, sorry just catching up with messages. A 'squirrel' visit or vice versa is always good fun !

  2. Your rose painting is delightful--it has a sense of freedom and playfulness that I would love to achieve in my paintings. I think your unstructured approach to putting it together worked well for you, but then all of your previous experience went into each decision you made as you were painting wonder it turned out well!

    1. Thank you Janene, I certainly didn't want any major constraints with this painting, more of that to come later !


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