At odd moments I draw some of the flowers with pencil. I like to think about things in terms of line. I like lines. Putting contours around shapes, seeing the shapes in relation to the other shapes, one flower’s location relative to another, is how I think about them. Somehow I feel like drawing must strive for accuracy, accuracy of flower positions, as though they are planets in a star system of flowers.
It honestly doesn’t make any difference. But I feel obligated to seek out their true positions as closely as I can manage. The bouquet will look different from its first indications at long last once they enter the final painting. Because stuff happens. Everything changes. My brain shifts things around. Or the flowers themselves shift around. Or something. However, the impulse to get this “accuracy” is a force I heed.
I respect the impulse but I make no claims for the outcome. Outcomes change. Flower painting is a sneaky business.
I got more flowers and added them to the existing bunch. And I started a second study. This one measures 24 x 18. I omitted the vase this time. In this study I’m just focused on the flowers themselves. But I keep adding new blooms to the group and some of what I painted reflects the bouquet the way it looked before the new additions. So it’s confusing.
But the main thing is that I’m looking at these flowers and painting them. I’ll keep painting flowers. When these wear out, I’ll get some more and paint those. I must sort these flowers out because even though I’m emulating Bonnard’s big dining room picture, La Salle à manger sur le Jardin, it has no flowers so I am already striking out on my own path. Paintings can change quickly. I started with Bonnard’s idea, but just the inclusion of the bouquet begins to nudge the whole motif into a different direction.
This flower direction is a good one to travel. The flowers exert some pull upon me. They suit my temperament, and I spend hours staring at them, describing their forms and colors with bits of paint.
I set aside work on the large painting to begin some studies of flowers. Since the vase of flowers will play such a prominent role in the picture, it’s a feature that I want to get sorted out early. So I bought some more grocery store flowers and have begun making studies. The one above has an indication of the striped cloth on the table and the pale colored Limoges vase that I found on the internet. It’s the first of several practice paintings that I’m making. I’m not sure yet what the flower arrangement will look like. Indeed, I keep changing the still life — adding flowers as I happen to find new ones when I’m out shopping.
The study for the previous painting sits on the easel next to the new flowers. I still haven’t finished the previous painting. But I set it aside to let the paint dry. In between tasks, I’ll go back to it.
I posted my Victorian gals on Instagram today. These are oil pastel portraits based upon Victorian photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron which I made a while back. If you’re an Instagrammer, come check them out. I only started using Instagram recently and I love the art that I find there. On each platform — facebook, wordpress, instagram, pinterest — I find different artists. There’s a lot of wonderful picture making going on in this world.
Below are two others I posted. On the left another drawing based on a Julia Margaret Cameron photo, and on the right a copy after Albert Hertel.
Seems like we’ve been having epic amounts of rain. Maybe we’ve just had the usual amount, who knows. One tends to monitor rain — subconsciously. At first it’s wonderful, so calming, so delicate. After days of missing the sun, rain can seem a little oppressive. I remind myself that it’s still calming and delicate. A cheery light in the studio helps lift my mood. Outdoors, however, Nature runs rampant. And soon a lawn needs to be mowed. The growth of the plants outside is epic.
Indoors I’ve been painting flowers — those flowers, the ones on the table. I want the growth of the flowers in my paintings to be epic.