Saturday, 11 October 2014

Flat, rippled leaves are tricky!

Hosta - work in progress.

So I'm now attempting the leaf at the back, which, due of the perspective and rippled nature of the leaf, is actually really hard work. As I paint the back leaf, I'm also still constantly revisiting the leaf at the very front, trying to strengthen the contrasts across its surface. This is to make the leaf appear as if it is coming forwards. I always put in crisp lines for those objects that are nearer, blurry and paler lines for those in the distance. So I whilst I do the back I frequently come to the front in order to also remind myself of all the tones present across the piece. I think one is always at risk of 'patch working' a botanical painting rather than 'weaving' because of the nature of the work and the need for accuracy. When painting, I endeavour to be like an old fashioned loom - putting in a little bit here, and a little bit there, working across the whole piece so it is unified. The details I put in last... If I were to do all the detail in one leaf, and then move onto another until that one is finished, and then again and so on, I would become concerned that all the pieces, although detailed, might not work together.  Colour mixes might not match and the piece could look disjointed and patchy. 

Hosta - a work in progress

So, with the Hosta I am pretending to be a loom and working my way around the paper, putting in the foundations. I've recently noticed that I like to get the extremities in rather quickly too. Not sure why I do that, something about seeing the 'whole' I'm sure... The edges, the space. I also work from dark to light for some reason. I put splodges of paint where the dark bits are first, which might be a little unorthodox for watercolour. The reason for this is because I don't actually draw the dark areas in with a pencil at the start. I only put the outline of the plant in with a pencil and do the rest of the drawing with a brush. I dislike pencils (they remind me of bad times at school) and I find that graphite greys up my watercolours, so I rarely use them. Drawing in the dark areas first primarily helps me to navigate my way around the leaf, which is really important when painting something like this Hosta. It has so many undulations across its velvety surface that it can get a little confusing. I am still getting lost when trying to observe it, despite mapping out the most striking features, and have to take regular breaks because my eyes lose their focus and start making things up, which is NEVER good.

So, here's a little account of my process... Briar, I hope you find this small write up informative. More to follow... Colours maybe?

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