Showing posts with label artistic process. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artistic process. Show all posts

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pink Lady Slippers

Pink Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule), watercolor, 16"h x 13"w.

I'd been wanting to paint a grouping of Pink Lady Slipper orchids ever since I came across that amazing patch in the forests of Fort Valley a few years ago. I finally started on my painting just before Christmas. I used the same process as usual: start with a pencil drawing, refine it, do some shade and shadow studies, and ink the line drawing to transfer onto the watercolor paper. This time I skipped the light and shadow study, since the photo I'm working from seemed fairly straightfoward. The flowers in my photo already composed nicely into an arc, and the leaves surrounding them set off the flowers well.

The challenge here was to select a palette that uses the transparent watercolor pigments I've been transitioning toward. With the old palette from Brookside Gardens, I would have used Permanent Rose for my red; the closest equivalent to this pigment is Quinacridone Coral. Other primary equivalents were Indrathrene Blue and Vanadium Yellow, and I added Quinacridone Gold for the brownish tones of the sepals and petals and Bright Blue Violet for the magenta veins.

Step 1: washes on the flowers and leaves

The flowers were so tempting that I painted the two on the left in just a few passes, before even getting some washes on the leaves.

Step 2: building up the color

As I began to refine the leaves, I used a new brush, a Neef comb, which has these great "teeth" to make thin parallel lines, very useful for painting vein patterns. I'm almost finished, but I'm going to let this painting sit around in my studio for a while, to see if I need to add anything. Maybe a hint of  some of the missing petals on some of the flowers, darkening a few parts of the shadows?

I intend to enter this painting in the BASNCR group show organized by the Richmond area artists, "Ancarrow's List: Native Plants By the River's Edge" which will be exhibited at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Painting the Sweet Pinesap

Sweet Pinesap (Monotropsis odorata), watercolor, 14"h x 10.5"w.

After the adventure of finding this rare plant in its habitat, creating a painting in the studio to convey its charm and beauty was equally challenging. It took a couple of months for me to to find the time to even start. I began by studying my photos, deciding which ones to use, how to stage the plant, and at what scale to paint it. The plant is so tiny it would need to be shown at three to four times its actual size in order to reveal the details.

Stage 1: pencil sketch

I chose the photo I had used for the opening image of the series, which shows a side view of one flowering stem on the left and another from the front with the colors appearing unusually vivid.

The sketch looked somewhat unbalanced and obviously needed another element on the right to complete the composition. I found another photo showing a stem with one single flower and added it on the right to complete the composition as a triangle. I pondered on the best way to tie the three flowering stalks together, and decided painting the leaf litter on the forest floor was ideal, as it would unify the disparate elements and show how well the plant was camouflaged. The dried pine needles offer clues about this plant's association with white pines and hardwood forests.

Stage 2: ink line drawing over the shade and shadow study.

After the shade and shadow pencil study, I was ready to trace the line work in ink and transfer the drawing onto watercolor paper (Fabriano Artistico extra white). Now I could finally begin the painting.

Early stage of the painting.

As usual, I get so involved in the doing that I forget to take photos of the process as I go along, but here's one intermediate shot I remembered to take. The finished painting is above.