Therre were quite a few comments and queries and a number of people definitley preferred this painting. In many ways, I did too.
So first of all, why I did not choose it: This painting is quite photogenic but I found the background was too green, and a bit muddled, although I loved the way the irises came out.
It is very difficult to pull this sort of painting off – much harder than careful botanical painting, because you need to be confident, loose, and each mark has to function well. (Next weekend, I am doing a weekend of quick-draw life studies, Chinese style, from a model – over 60 X 2-4 minute poses. irises should be a doddle after that. but seriously, the first few marks are great, but finishing the painting makes it tricky.)
Then there is the battle of the greens. You would probably not wear a purple top and a green skirt (especially if you are a man!) as the colours don’t really “go”. In a garden there are hundreds of greens and sparkles of colour. Here purple is a major factor and the green gets tricky. Synthetic green is always a problem anyway.
In the final card I simply did neutrals instead of greens and thought it worked. And thirdly, a card design often works (sells) better as an illustration rather than as a painting.
To be honest, my heart yearns to be able to do quick painterly magnificent flowers – sucessfully!
I might pull one off per 100 tries!
So now to answer the other question: The Painterly Sketch
It is a quick sketch in colour with very little preliminary drawing, intended as a study and sometimes with God’s benevolence it works out as a wonderful spontaneous finished piece! But regarding it as a sketch, frees you up to be expressive and less nervous. All those years of careful calligraphy and avoiding risk-taking is very bad for nerves.
I stood in the garden at my easel, allowed the paint to drip; now and again put the piece flat to do some background, chucked and slopped paint and water on and had fun. I tried to express the iris in as few strokes as possible and did not worry too much about botany or colours running.
When I studied art in the year dot, we had an incredibly gifted watercolour teacher called Erica Berry. We only did watercolour for the first 6 months of our first year, (aged 19) then moved over to oils for the next 3.5 years. This is really my only watercolour tutoring, apart from a weekend in 2002 , but I have done lots of reading! But WOW! Erica Berry set up a still life on a large grey platform with squares of white paper here and there on the base. Then there were about 15 – 20 old bottles and jars of all sizes, animal skulls, big pearlescent abalone shells and some dead shrivelled proteas in huge bell jars.
So, you guessed it, lots of neutrals, browns, prussians, greenish glass and whites. We painted on A1 sheets of cheap cartridge paper with large brushes with chewed ends. The chewed end was very important as when the prussian blue or burnt umber drips, you whip the brush round and draw with the nibbled end, into the dribble of paint, redirecting it and getting some lovely marks.
Occasionally we turned out quite nice stuff – or maybe it seemed nice then. But I remember the joy of succeeding in getting the tecture of glass, shells or paper and there were always some “good passages” here and there to redeem the work.
So, perhaps I am trying to recapture my youth and I want to see if it was true or just nostalgia. Did I have something in me that worked with the impossible wonderful medium?