“Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realising one’s sensations.”
This week has been a busy one, but inspired by the artists who are taking part in the 30 Day Challenge, I have managed to put aside an hour or two each day to sit down and paint. There is something quite liberating in doing these small daily challenges. The focus is not on producing a finished piece of work, but just on the simple pleasure of creating.
The week began with a study of geranium flowers. I had been asked to paint a single flower as part of a commission, but it was such an enjoyable subject that I couldn’t resist filling the page with petals and buds. Every time I see geraniums I think of warm sunshine and the long lazy days of summer… bliss!
|The trick to painting reds is to use lots of layers. I used initial washes of winsor orange, winsor orange-red and permanent rose. Then I applied glazes of scarlet lake, vermillon, winsor red and finally Schmincke Dark Red, which I think is the best dark red that you can find. For the darkest shadows, I mixed the dark red with a tiny bit of winsor purple.
Next up was the strange little fruit of the Handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata. This tree is best known for the large leafy bracts which hang like white handkerchiefs over small flowers in spring. I was curious about the fruit, which had a slightly pungent aroma, so included a dissection.
|Gingko biloba leaf.
A Gingko leaf
was next on my easel. My little leaf was past it’s best but that made it all the more enjoyable to paint. I have never painted one before, but it’s a very popular choice for botanical artists, perhaps because of Rory McEwen
’s superb depiction of a gingko leaf. For those who have never heard of Rory McEwen, he was one of the most influential botanical artists of the twentieth century. Here’s a short video about his work-
The following day I painted the tiny blue fruit of the Woodland-Passionflower, Passiflora moriflora.
I was short of time, so did just a simple line drawing of the vine and the leaf. It’s such a pretty plant with an abundance of flowers and wonderful tendrils, definitely one for my ‘Must Paint List’.
I was quite curious about the little blue fruit that I had painted, so the next day, I cut it open. I was surprised to find bright orange seeds and deep purple flesh. What a striking and unexpected combination. It tasted horrible though!
My final subject was a tiny acorn that I found whilst out on my walk. I collected quite a few which I hope to paint before putting them in the garden for the hungry resident squirrel.
The weekend came but there was no time for painting because I went on a photography workshop
in June Blake’s Garden
in Co. Wicklow. What a stunning place! This excellent workshop was run by Bernard Van Giessen
Although I almost always paint from life, I also take reference photographs of my subjects as a back up. I also prefer to photograph my work as I find the scanner too harsh. However my little camera has been set on automatic since the day I got it, and I really wanted to learn how to use it properly.
What a wonderful day it was! The garden is magnificent and Bernard was patient, informative and incredibly encouraging. To top it off, the company was great and there was a really delicious lunch too.
By the end of the day, I had learnt how to take a semi-decent photograph, met some lovely people and finally understood what an f-stop is! It’s definitely manual all the way for me from now on!
Life may be hectic, but it’s really worth putting aside a little time each day to live in the moment. Paint, draw. or simply go outside and take a photograph.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”