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Daffodil Days

Golden daffodils are always the first to appear each year, heralding the start of spring and the promise of warmer brighter days.

 William Wordsworth’s beautiful poem comes to mind whenever I see them.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 
Feeling quite cheerful myself, I decided to paint daffodils in this month’s Nature Trail sketchbook. This sketchbook belongs to Julie Douglas, a remarkably talented artist living in Belfast. Julie teaches art, or rather, she inspires her students to paint. Her sketchbook is certainly a reflection of her personality… it’s bold, it’s fun and it dares you to step out of your comfort zone!
Daffodils would certainly make a statement, but they were also going to be a challenge, not least because they are yellow. Yes, I know that I’ve grumbled about greens before, but yellow is a tricky pigment too. How do you depict subtle hue changes and the delicate nuances of light and shade, when you can’t mix in another colour? Yellow mixed with any other colour is just not yellow.
A old sketchbook study proved really useful in terms of colour and technique. The top flower on the right was done mixing yellows with shade colours, the one beneath was done using shade first, followed by a wash of yellow
The answer is layering. You need to paint the underlying shade tone first and very lightly build up the form of the flower in soft greys. I found that my daffodils had two shades of grey- one leaning to green (cerulean+ cobalt violet+ perylene green) and the other leaning to purple (cerulean+ cobalt violet + light red). Once you have established the form of the flower, you can then paint over with a washes of yellow.

I began with some very quick loose sketches on cheap A4 paper just to get the feel of the plant. I did lots and lots of these quick sketches and most were not as neat as this one!!

Once I have drawn out my flower, I paint over the pencil lines with a thin line of the paint and then erase the pencil lines.
I used lemon yellow, winsor lemon and winsor yellow as my cooler yellows, whilst cadmium yellow, winsor yellow deep and winsor orange provided the warmer tones of the corona.
The result is a page of happy daffodils. I think it’s a bit looser than my normal style but I quite like that.

And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
(William Wordsworth)

Draw In

I’ve another reason to be smiling this week. I’ve been invited to take part in a Symposium to celebrate the value of Drawing, which will take place in the Belfast School of Art Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st  August.

 This event will bring together some incredibly talented artists, PJ Lynch, Colleen Barry, Paul Foxton, Julie Douglas, Peter Cooper, Matt Weigle, Ian McAllister and Katherine Tyrrell, all of whom are passionate about art. 
“The aim is to celebrate excellence in drawing. You will view some amazing drawings, paintings, sketch books and work in progress by the invited artists and learn how to improve your own skills in a friendly, inclusive environment. Drawing is relevant and contemporary, even in this world of technology. Drawing is a powerful tool towards personal well being, far beyond the delicious act of mark-making itself. Drawing is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”

There will be workshops, talks, demonstrations, and lots of creative and inspiring ideas being shared. As well as the weekend workshops, there will be workshops running the week before and also the week after. 
You can read more about the event on Katherine Tyrrell’s excellent blog Making a Mark.
Please take time to check out the Draw In website too- it’s wonderful!

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