Words to live by and words to paint by.
So. Many. Petals!!! Moving slowly, working carefully. This first layer is the basis for all layers to come. My husband walked in to have a peak and said "hey, I can actually tell what it is". haha. Funny guy! And then we both said together "Now don't f*** it up!".
So, I am working slowly, using thin washes, wet in wet and dry brush to build this first layer carefully. Moving at a snails pace but still enjoying the process and trying not to race to the finish line.
I posted the other day about thinking I wanted to work faster, looser and with ink but while working on this pretty little peony, I realized that I actually do love the process of working slowly. It suits my core personality and I can save those fast, loose, ink-filled works for days when I need to be more free. This slow methodical approach is definitely my style and where I gravitate to again and again. Artist's crisis averted!
So, as with all things in life, I am doing my best to not f*** it up! :)
Call me crazy (or maybe others will agree) but I am starting to prefer my looser faster florals that are watercolour and ink over the pieces I slave, sweat and swear over. It's not because of the effort or time that I put into the other pieces that is making me feel this way. I think it is that the inked florals feel more like they have a real piece of me in them - the piece of me I want to be. I get lost in the inking process and it puts me in a real zen state. I have to stop myself from over inking because I go into a little trance like state and could easily get carried away.
The florals that are layer after layer, the ones that I fret over and stare at and think about and plan - I still love those pieces. They are also a part of who I am - a person who worries, stews, overthinks and is rational - but the looser inked paintings, those are the impulsive, fearless, free side of me. Both make me me. They are my yin and my yang. I can't say I could quit doing the planned slaved over pieces but I feel I am moving more towards the carefree, shit happens, go with the flow style. Or at least that is the direction I want to move in. I guess time will tell if the uptight side of me will let that loose side come out. :)
Here is an example. This is a piece I recently completed called 'Bouquet". I love this piece. I love the colours, the flow, the movement within the bouquet. I really really like it. Sure, the analytical side of me finds areas that could be better but I captured what I was trying to capture with this piece and as a whole, I love it. Having said that, there was a lot of thinking and analyzing that went into this piece. Where to have detail where to have less. Where to have midtones,darker values,lighter values. How to get interesting shapes. How to not stray too far from realistic but still have it abstract-ish. A LOT of thinking and analyzing and second guessing of myself. Now look at this one:
This little tulip was done while sitting at the hospital waiting for my husband to get out of day surgery, it was free and loose and the inking took my mind into the zen place it needed to be so that my mind wasn't worrying about my husband being under general anesthesia (no matter how minor the surgery, that is a fear of mine). I did this little sucker with a travel aqua brush - which I discovered today I really don't like but it did the job. The squiggles and doodles with my black ink just happened with no thought, no planning and no brain power. I was in the zone. When I awoke from my mini meditative state, I was happy and content. I wasn't worried if every shape, shadow, tone and value was perfect. I was more interested in how it made me feel and it made me feel happy. After all, isn't that what art should do? Make us feel something even if it's happiness?
And yes, I do realize that virtually no one is reading these blog posts and that it is really a glorified diary and that I am really just talking to myself but what the hell - I do that in daily life anyway and it helps me sort this kind of crap out. If you do happen to be reading this, thanks for indulging my mini therapy session that I just gave myself. :)
This bouquet of flowers is taking FOREVER!! I seriously feel like have been working on this non-stop for weeks but it has only been a couple of days. Why oh why can't I be one of those people who can knock out a painting in an hour or two??? I am happy with where it is going and anxious to finish but am taking a much needed break before I ruin it. :)
I started with an initial wet in wet wash of Winsor & Newton paints. I was going to do Dr. PH Martin's hydrus from the get-go, but I definitely prefer W&N for the initial wash. They move better in the water, they don't stain as quickly and I just found that initial wet in wet to work much better with W&N. I did try to start with Dr. PH Martin's Hydrus but it stained before I could even get the paint to move around at all. I was very frustrated.
Having said that, once I got the initial wash in, I decided to go in and do the remainder of the work with Dr. PH Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolors and I am LOVING them for this part of the work. There was (and is) a definite learning curve to working with them. I am finding, for me, I seem to work best with them using a teeny tiny brush and LOTS of water but the teeny tiny brush part could just be because I am working on such small little petals (in comparison to the normal size flower I usually do).
It seems that if I dip the bush in some paint/water mixture and then start working on the piece, I then dip my brush in more water and kind of feather the paint out or extend the particular line I am working on using the water dipped brush. It's definitely different than working with the W&N. I'm not actually rinsing my brush for the above, just dipping it into the water and going right back to where I was working.
Soft edges work well as long as there is sufficient water and definitely work better over the W&N then just directly on the paper. I am finding that I also have to move very quickly! This paint seems to dry much faster than the W&N I am used to. No time to think just do for those soft edges. If I move too slowly, the paint has already stained and a soft edge is very difficult. Again, though, after working with them for awhile I have noticed that they layer beautifully so if by chance I didn't work fast enough to get rid of that hard edge, going in with another color and laying slightly over that edge, watering it down slightly and then moving it along seems to do the trick. I wonder if this making any sense? It's so hard to describe in writing the process!
I am making this sound much more difficult than it actually is. It's just a learning process and a different way of using the paint than I am accustomed to. Well worth the effort and I absolutely intend to use these more often.
I am sure the more I use them, the more it will just seem normal and I likely won't notice a difference in the way I am working with the two different paints.
I bet part of the problem is I just used too much pigment to begin with. The paints are so highly concentrated that a little dab 'll do ya and I probably had my paint to water ratio off. I think it is actually forcing me to be more creative and to develop my style a bit more which actually makes me very happy.
Perhaps I should have chosen a simpler piece to try the Hydrus liquid watercolors on to begin with. I usually tend to do single large flowers, so for me, this is a very complicated piece but so far I am happy with where this is going. As usual, I can pick out everything little thing I wish I had done differently but overall, I am happy with it and I have yet to paint anything where I don't see every little problem area. I try to tell myself that is normal.
Taking a break from the painting for now - I seem to have drained away all of my creative energy. Time to do some work and use the analytical side of my brain.
I am definitely a fan of Dr. P.H. Martin's Hydrus liquid watercolors. I love how vibrant they are and am looking forward to using them more.
BTW - this WIP is from a photo I took of a bouquet of flowers at Costco of all places - inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places.. Seeing as we had snow here yesterday, there were no flowers to be seen outside. Somebody forgot to tell mother nature that spring has sprung!