Thursday, 26 January 2012

Peacock feather and Bud.

I love these beautiful,iridescent feathers and it was a chance to play with the sparkly paints again. This feather was drawn out roughly onto black card - with no pre-sketch, as I normally do with botanical subjects. Then painted with gouache as a base and then the iridescent paints on top. They were from the Dan Smith try it dot card that I bought last year. I haven't purchased any new ones (although its tempting!!)
Iridescence can be painted without sparkly mica based paints. By layering colours and creating a shimmer using homologous colours next to each other. Also stippling on the top layer with a light colour or white can create sparkle.

Then another Hippeastrum bud in gouache on board, the variety is Hip. 'Clown'. This one I found more difficult than the Picotee,I'm not sure why. Unfortunately there is a mark on the painting where I dropped the brush with white paint on it! It is only slightly noticable though- near top left bud but still annoying.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

SBA Exhibition and a Step by Step

At the end of February it is time to hand in paintings for the SBA exhibition which is held in Westminster, London in April. I have decided to put some work in for it this year; the Autumn Treasure painting and the Hippeastrum Picotee. Not sure what else to put in yet. 
Its a long way to travel and quite an expensive venture; the frames, travelling, and time off work all add up.  If the paintings don't sell I will organise them to be picked up from London(as I can't take more time off work then!!) -I have used a courier before who dropped them off in Bristol for me to drive and collect,as its closer to Wales. The exhibition shows so many amazing paintings (around 700) from artists all over the world. Not all of it is strictly botanical (like my gouaches) but this makes for a much more varied and interesting show.

 I'm still painting Amaryllis - Hippeastrums at the moment , this time a whitish bud opening up in gouache. Its going a lot slower this time.
Some friends wanted me to post a step by step of Hipp. Picotee - so here it is.


I'm not sure which I find easier or prefer - transparent watercolours or opaque gouache. They both pose different problems and sometimes there's a stage half way through a painting where you feel like giving up because it looks like a mess. You feel like you'll never turn it around. Best just to turn up the music, keep your head down and plod on with it. It usually comes round in the end.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Ystwyth Valley

At last a rare glimpse of the sun was had today so went for a walk down the Ystwyth Valley.It is very close to home, just a half mile walk through some forest.

Eventually the muddy forest path leads out to the open valley, through a bracken and gorse covered hillside,with the river Ystwyth in the distance. You pass the ruins of an old house,and a bit further on is an old lead mine called Pant yr Hirain. There are lots of old mines along the Ystwyth; eerie places,they echo with their past history. I imagine the noise and polluting activity that was once here,now the ruins peacefully decay back to nature.


Above is Pant yr Hirain mine, jutting from the hillside. Heather,Gorse and Birch are the most abundant plants here,but looking closer at the ground there is a profusion of mosses and lichen species;forming little communities.

Above is a quirky sketch of lichen and moss communities that I found in the valley,even a little mushroom. It was done quickly with pen and wash; I think its a bit comical!

Another small watercolour study of a moss and lichen twig. The little lichen leaflets almost fit together like teeny jigsaw pieces.

Heres a cropped painting (from last winter), of a Larch twig with the beautiful, feathery Usnea lichen;I love painting this species  (I use masking fluid). You can notice a strange smell while painting lichens,sort of sea weedy; earthy,foresty and damp.

The river Ystwyth snakes into the distant forested hills.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Gouache Hippeastrum


This is the latest gouache Hippeastrum; its a picotee variety with beautiful red edges and sparkly bits. I experimented with iridescent paints for this (not too much though) and like the results. Its taken 5 days and given me neck, thumb and brain ache! The white gouache paint (I use Winsor & Newton & Schminke) and the green mixes also, can be temperamental to get down and I found it slightly chalky this time. Some dabs of white acrylic have helped to bring out the petals.

White flowers are far better painted on a dark background. My painting of Hippeastrum 'Jewel' from last winter was painted on a white background and it just doesn't have the impact. I should have painted some leaves behind the white flowers to show them up - a great botanical tip. The white flowers are showed up by careful shading with warm and cool greys.