Thursday, 24 February 2011

First Crocus

Spring is coming slowly this way. Yesterday I dug up a Crocus from my garden. Once inside I could almost see it grow. Even though I was in the middle of another drawing I had to be quick and paint this fast. So, with a piece of thread around the petals, I painted it last night.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'

This is Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'. Really odd name for this Crocus since it is not Ruby red nor is it a giant. It's small and purple. Little gems they are, they were right about that.
And like a friend of mine said to me last night, it's like she's putting her arms up in the air to celebrate spring is here at last!

Friday, 18 February 2011


I never painted grapes before. Neither did I draw them with pencils. I knew I could do them in coloured pencil. They are much like blueberries. And I did blueberries years ago. Getting the bloom just right was a wonderful challenge. When I bought these grapes I knew the bloom would be the most difficult bit. But I didn't want to do another coloured pencil drawing. I decided to try it in watercolour. Pretty scary to be honest. So first I tried one. It's the one in the front. It wasn't at all as hard as I thought it would be. It actually was quite fun. So I painted a small group behind the loose one. I tried out a few different techniques but they all resulted in the same nice surface. Funny enough the hardest part was to find out what colour to use in the shadows. I finally found sepia with a bit of permanent alizarine crimson the best choice.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Spring is coming!

The very first sign of spring for me is when the Hazel (Corylus avellana) in my back garden starts to flower. The large yellow-green catkins dangling in the wind always make me smile. So fun that the male (the large greenish worms) and female (tiny red fluffy bits) catkins flower on the same twig.

I wanted to paint a larger twig than this but got a bit bored by the catkins. To be honest, I started to paint it very detailed but soon got lazy. And since I was doing it for fun I made a bit impressionistic catkins. At the end I put in some sharper details and shadows. I think I got away with it :P

Monday, 7 February 2011

Souvenir from Florence

Now that all paintings are finished for the SBA show in London (I framed them yesterday), I wanted to draw something small. And with pencil! After all this time working with the small brushes and watercolours I just had to do a pencil drawing. On my desk I found a small Cypress cone. I found it in Italy last year near the Villa del Trebbio in Tuscany. There were lots of Cypresses on that hill, many of them very old.

In a few hours I made this small drawing in my sketchbook. I love drawing pine cones and this one was nice too. I think it's because I can go really black in the shadows. I also love the shape of these cones. Anyway, here it is:
Cypress Cone, Graphite pencil 3,5 x 6 cm

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Finished Work

It has been far too long since I've blogged something. So, here's an update. Last year, the last two months I didn't paint much. I wasn't well for a while and we had a very busy December. At the end of the month however, I decided to try and enter my work to the SBA show in London, next April. I want to send 4 paintings but it was hard to choose which ones. Also I felt like I had to enter work that reflects my recent work. I think I improved my skills this year dramatically. The course I did with Anne-Marie Evans had a lot to do with that. I now feel much more comfortable with the watercolours.

I wanted to enter my Nectaroscordum striptease but it's a bit personal. I don't want to sell it yet. So I decided to repaint it in a smaller version. Instead of the 5 flower heads, I painted 3. Also I changed the composition. To put them in a row, like I did in the first version, seemed stiff. Not at all what I wanted. So I moved them around till I was, sort of, happy with it.

As you can see in the slideshow, I had a big problem with one of the buds. It was the bud closest to the viewer but it was so grey and dull and there was nothing I could do to make it look fresh again. All I could do was to cut out the top layer of the paper and carefully remove the entire thing. I then polished the damaged part with a small agate stone and repainted the bud, giving it more colour and enlarging it a bit so nothing could be seen of the *gap*.
Here is the finished piece:

I'm also still working on another painting. It's Allium ursinum (or Ramsons or Wild Garlic). I made a sketch of it two years ago but never got to actually paint it. I wanted to give it a go for the SBA show because I was really pleased with the composition. Now this Allium has, as you might know, white, small flowers and large leaves. I first tried a flower head on a small piece of paper to get the feeling of the white, the shadows and the shape.

Next came the leaves. That was even more difficult because they were huge and wavy. All I had was a line drawing. I never got to add the shades to the sketch. So I had to carefully think about where to place the shadows. I therefore made a new sketch of the leaves and added the shadows with a pencil. I'm glad I did because I'm sure I would have totally messed it up if I hadn't done it.

Now I should tell you I'm scared of painting leaves. If possible I avoid it :P But these leaves were really needed. I tend to paint them too fast, use too much water and because of all that, mess it up. I had to tell myself over and over again while I was painting to be slow and work dry. Sometimes I did, but sometimes I didn't.

I had to carefully build the leaves to keep them wavy, clean and fresh but also to add drama and depth. I first did the shaping wash and after that I added the fisrt green wash of bright yellow green.

Now I'm adding more and more layers of deeper green to finish the leaves, adding details where necessary. So... not finished yet but getting there.

The third I finished (yesterday) is a painting I started last year and is one of my all time favourites. It's Pelargonium sidoides. I'm not a fan of Pelargoniums but this one is different in many aspects. The flowers are tiny and have a beautiful deep, rich, dark, almost black kind of red. Like small gems. The leaves are not too big and have a velvety silver grey look. That is such a beautiful combination, it makes you sigh when you first see it. No really, it does!
In a nutshell this is how it was to paint it: The leaves were difficult (because velvety and many cushions) but they went remarkably well, the stems were so thin and took the longest to paint them well and the buds and flowers were obviously the most fun to paint.

I'm so happy with this painting. I love the composition and the way the leaves turned out. If I will sell it I would hate to see it go. But that's the danger isn't it? Maybe someday I'll paint something like this again. Who knows.
The fourth I want to submit is the old drawing of Crocosmia 'Lucifer'. That will be the only one in coloured pencil.

I'll try and make loads of photos at the show and will report on my blog how it was. Ta ta for now ;)