Got me more flowers to paint. Ain’t they pretty.
Got me more flowers to paint. Ain’t they pretty.
To get back into the thought world of the flower wall painting, I’ve decided to make studies of various sections of it. Here’s a study for the clump of hydrangea flowers made using Neopastel (Caran d’Ache) on a sheet from a 14 x 17 Strathmore 400 series pad.
Here’s the whole painting as it looks at present.
I have some pictures available in reproductions at Fine Art America. And the Fine Art America website has introduced a feature that makes it easier to imagine the image hanging in a room. With their new feature, you can get a sense of how the image size you’ve chosen might look in an actual room. All that’s left is to imagine how it will look in your room and in your life.
You can find my stuff here:
This is my crazy little practice painting. I just pile up paint on it. Measuring 8 x 10, it’s already gone through a second swipe and there’ll be a third, maybe a fourth, maybe more.
Last session I painted in very low light using a limited palette of teal, orange, brilliant yellow, primary magenta, thalo blue, and white. I couldn’t see the colors properly, which was interesting, plus there’s a blue curtain over one window that creates pale bluish light in the morning.
So it was interesting. I love to play around with color — with the colors on the canvas and with my own color perception.
You can aim the camera in some random direction and encounter some intriguing possibility for painting. Or you could just aim your eyes or even your mind, your imagination, your memories, I suppose!
This photo sneaks in a view of my favorite still life cloth.
The last few days I’ve been working on a large still life painting. It’s in the in-between state — a kind of messy place where some elements seem well realized and other features are inchoate. I seem to have settled on colors and positions but I’m not sure they won’t change.
It’s a new way of painting for me because usually I’m working from a motif that I can look at whereas in this painting I am working from drawings, from direct observation of some of the objects in isolation and from old photographs taken at different angles from the motif I’m painting.
And I’m working from an idea, too, of wanting to emulate Bonnard my hero while also wanting to do my own thing.
The painting has a ton of texture.
I like doing new things. Not sure where this one’s going, but the journey pulls me along. I work on one section at a time.
There’s so much stuff that it’s like working on several paintings within the painting.
Some of it doesn’t quite make sense, so for instance, I’m not sure what to think about my out-of-kilter stacked boxes. That’s one of the Bonnard quotes. If you let the perspective drift — “just because” — because Bonnard did, what will that mean? What does it mean in Bonnard’s painting? I don’t know.
I’m not expressing myself well. I think it’s because I really don’t know where any of the picture is going. It’s a strange mental place in which to be. I don’t mind it, though, not at all.
Indeed, it feels like I’m learning something about painting that I’ve wanted for a long time to explore.
It will be interesting for me to look back at this post and compare wherever the painting ended up going with what it was like here in the middle.
The crepe myrtles are blooming right now. All over the region they are in fullest flower, some trees are covered with blossoms. I have always loved them from my earliest childhood. My mind connects them to the many journeys to North Carolina to visit my Grandmother back when parts of North Carolina were still rural and wild. I remember the heat and an enormous landscape, a quiet that overflowed with insect noise.
We all have different sources of nostalgia, but I think that sometimes in art we communicate the nostalgia inside the painting — even if your summers had radically different referents — perhaps you can feel the nostalgia as a force in itself and find in a picture something that returns you to a place of special meaning in your heart.
I painted this landscape a couple years ago. And it’s today’s featured work for my new website at Fine Art America where reproductions of some of my pictures are sold.
This picture pairs well with another crepe myrtles painting, both have similar bright colors and energy. One is vertical, one is horizontal.
I keep seeing wonderful crepe myrtles on my trips through the region. I have got to find time to portray them again. Just drawing the shapes of the forms takes me back to a dreamtime of my past.
My daughter and I set out for Capitol Hill yesterday in the late afternoon, she to walk and me to draw. Someone has a beautiful garden right off East Capitol Street, full of zinnias. I had noticed the flowers on a previous walk. So I tossed the old aluminum easel into the back of the pickup, assembled some oil pastels and off we went.
The mosquitoes didn’t start biting until really near twilight so I wasn’t munched too much. However I was concentrating so much on my drawing — how hard do YOU concentrate on your tasks? — that the whole bottom of my right leg was soaking wet before I realized that the gardener’s sprinkler was reaching my location. Is that concentration or what? Maybe it’s possible to concentrate a bit too much. A little less concentration and I might have avoided the soaking …
That discovery seemed like a good cue to switch motifs.
I drew the yellow ones until the mosquitoes started dining. Then it was clearly time to quit. We took a bit of a walk afterwards for exercise, my daughter and I, and I staked out some more locations to draw.
Capitol Hill residents are assiduous gardeners. There’s many lovely places to choose from — almost too many — it makes the choices harder.
These are drawings I may use in something or other, but I make them just to be outdoors drawing. I have been buying flowers for still life. And I have some lovely fake ones that I use also. Sometimes I take a flower from a photograph or an old master image. It’s fun to mix it up.
If I decide to do dog portraits, Capitol Hill residents are prosperous in that department too. While I was drawing, every manner of canine imaginable was being walked in a kind of impromptu, nightly, canine parade. That would be fun — not sure the owners would have the patience to wait for a full portrait though …
Flowers, on the other hand, are very patient.
I was making plans when I painted these just as I am making plans now. I had forgotten. The bouquets were experiments in painting.
I was leaving one place — literally leaving — I was quitting my job. Husband and parents thought it was a bad idea. I quit anyway. I suppose they all knew me well enough to suspect that I would do whatever I wanted. And I thank each one now — daddy, momma, husband — in the quiet of my head and heart because they provided a healthy dose of obstacle — not that I viewed their reactions in those terms at the time. Rather, I see it now. Seeing the obstacle they manufactured — their gifts — makes me wonder right now about the obstacles that I face right now. How many of them are gifts in disguise?
I have been the loud proponent of mistakes in art. Through making mistakes you learn. Art has the great luxury of affording human beings considerable latitude in mistake making. In art sometimes the mistake opens a door into new territory. Screw up a drawing, learn that exaggeration in art hides expressive possibility. You learn that lesson not in vague terms as I declare it now in words but in the precise, specific way of a tangible shape in some particular drawing.
Looking back I can see how taking my family’s advice also might have led to a good path. Perhaps I should have heeded them and this path I took was “the mistake.” It’s difficult to say, really only a matter of interpretation. Had I taken their advice, I would still have needed to make important changes. I thought back then that I needed to change my outward circumstances. Now I’m more inclined to see the inward changes as being most needful.
“Six of one and a half dozen of the other.” One thing I love about my family, especially remembering these events, is that whether I kept the job or left it none of them intended to make a big deal of it for very long. They thought quitting was a mistake. All of them thought so. They said so. I quit against their advice. All the lines were redrawn. Life rolled along.
Anyway, the flower paintings were doors and windows. I am building a new metaphorical house in thought and I decided to use — to install — these particular portals. I want to look at a flower world.
Cleaning house has brought me close to the past. I find things that “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo puts it. I have also found things that evoke regrets and loss. Where to put things comes later in Kondo’s scheme. First you discard, later you organize. Me, I have parts of the past to discard — aspects of my own personality to discard also. Or, at least I intend to put certain personality features into deep storage. Impatience or a bad temper might be useful on some exceptionally rare occasion. I’ll want my impatience and anger then — perhaps.
For now, I reshuffle aspects of my personality and intend to keep only the traits that I really use along with ones that “spark joy.” I write this so blithely. Naiveté lends charm to certain bold acclamations. I am building a mental house and hopefully the physical house will conform to it. For sure, the physical house is much easier to clean and arrange.
The view between the arching flower stems is what caught my attention, but afterwards I tried to put as much stuff of the chaos onto the page, knowing that parts of it would be out of proportion. I decided to tackle something that I figured would be impossible really to depict accurately, especially in the time I was allotting.
The dark light of an overcast spring day made the (ad)venture doable. So off and on I’ve been gazing at a jumble of things on the kitchen counter. (Remind me I need to clean that counter.) It would be an interesting motif to do at night too with the overhead yellow of interior light casting down on the objects in that way that Bonnard taught us to love.
I’d love to do the view from the arching flower stems again in the future. I’ll need more flowers. These have already surpassed their prime.