Still Smelling the Roses

Some 20-odd days since I popped them into my beloved yellow jug, the bunch of roses in my studio has now dried out and is looking decidedly Miss Havisham-ish. I’ve been using them as the starting point for some small 15x15cm paintings, with varying degrees of completion.

There are two paintings I consider finished, and like (and have added to my #ArtistSupportPledge paintings here):  

The turning point with these two was when I put down my brushes and starting working on with oil pastel. The slight texture of the paper means that if I don’t press too hard with the oil pastel it gives a broken line (rather than a continuous), allowing some of the colour beneath to show through.

Whether the result looks like roses or peonies or something else is up to whoever is looking at the painting.

There two paintings I started before these two that are nearly there, but not quite. I put them on my Facebook timeline with the question “Left or right” (see answers here or on Instagram): 

The responses were varied, but consolidated what I’d thought which was to brighten the greens on the one of the left and add some darks to the one on the right. Once I’ve done that, I will then will decide if anything else is needed.

There are three more, which I left to dry last night looking like this (apologies, the photo isn’t the sharpest): 

These three all have watery acrylic on top of oil pastel, and I anticipate doing at least one more layer on each with light or dark, possibly both.

These seven paintings may seem connected only by subject, but it’s a case of “one thing led to another, and to another”. The roses I bought when I went to the supermarket because I felt like a splash of colour. They’ve sat on the corner of my studio table, watching and waiting, until, inevitably, I painted them and then put a photo of two together on social media. This led to a comment from a friend about wanting to see a version with ink line work (thanks for the prompt Tina!) which led to me painting the roses again, this time starting with acrylic ink (Payne’s grey) and adding it again after some colour, finishing the paintings with oil pastel. The oil pastel led me to wanting to see what resulted if I started with oil pastel and then added watery acrylic paint and/or acrylic ink, which led to the last three paintings.

This photo shows all the paintings together, the top two are where they were after one round with them (initial magenta and ink, which was sprayed with water while still wet and lifted with paper towel), the middle row is where they were before I added oil pastel, and the lower row are as they’ve been for some days now (I still haven’t done the tweaks). 

In terms of process, I’m following an idea to see what happens, letting the materials dictate the route and allowing myself to give in to an impulse. I try not to worry about whether something will work or not, though inevitably there are moments when I hesitate. Working on several pieces at once allows me to then put that one aside until I am either sure about what I want to do, know I don’t want to do any more (yet or ever), or am able to roll with whatever results. Usually I don’t share the ones that don’t work out, or all the ones that are about halfway there (the ones I think of as “just add sheep”). I rarely tear something up on the day it was created but go through the pile every once in a while and sort out duds when I’m more dispassionate.

My thanks to all my readers and friends for your encouragement and enthusiasm in these strange times of lockdown and the cancellation of so many things I was looking forward to through winter, with particular mention to my Patreon supporters and subscribers who enable me to keep my blog and videos advert free and the studio cats fed. Also to everyone who’s bought one of my little #SupportArtistPledge paintings, taking me nearly half way to my goal.

A Dozen Daisies

A new grid template with two windows and slightly smaller than my one for this month’s project, led me to drawing a grid of 12 which I filled whilst looking through the studio window at the little dawn daisies.

After the pencil came watercolour, varying the greens I was using as I moved down.

Next some white acrylic, using a flat brush and a rigger.

Then yellow for the centres, first lemon but that felt too insipid so and had another round with cadium yellow medium.

I mixed blue in with the yellow for green, then a touch of orange into this for a second round with a more muted/muddy green.

Three photos of my palette, showing the small quantity of paint I had out.

This photo shows you the progess from drawing to finished:

I’ve added this painting to my webshop here, as one of my #ArtistSupoortPledge paintings.

My Inner Voice Said: Just Cut Off a Bit

blDaffodils in Blue Vase Detail from Painting

You know when you’ve 99% decided you want to do something, but once it’s done it’s done so the little bit of uncertainty makes you hesitate, and hesitate, and second-guess, and hesitate? That’s where I was with this painting (inspired by daffodils in a blue vase) when I’d decided I needed to cut off a bit from the bottom:

Daffodils in Blue Vase Uncropped
Acrylic ink on A3 watercolour paper.

I’d added the Payne’s grey to give a sense of the blue vase standing on a surface, because it had felt like it was floating. But having done it, it felt like an irritating distraction; being acrylic ink, it dried quickly and adding more paint would spoil the transparency, so I let it be.

Having left it overnight so I wasn’t quite so emotionally connected to it, I reminded myself that just because the sheet of paper was A3 when I started, and I’d fitted the composition into this, it didn’t have to stay this way (that’s one of the joys of working on paper). Out came another sheet to see where I should crop it. Up, down, lift off, up down, lift off…there. Make a light pencil mark. Get ready to fold the sheet so I could tear it (having given up on finding the metal ruler and knife). Hesitate. Look again. Repeat.

Eventually I did fold the sheet and tore it along the fold line (with the mantra “hold the piece you want to keep in your tearing hand”). Phew, I hadn’t ripped the painting and did like the result.

But then the sheet had three hard edges and one torn edge. So I repeated the exercise and tore the other three edges too. Not really sensible, but we shouldn’t always do the sensible thing.

Daffodils in Blue Vase Cropped painting

blDaffodils in Blue Vase Detail from Painting

blDaffodils in Blue Vase Detail from Painting

Painting Workshop Photos: Starting with Rosehips & Sunflowers

Working with black ink and dip pen you have to keep going forward with it, you can’t stop to erase, rethink and redo like you can with a pencil. At one point in my recent workshops at Skyeworks, there was a “try it with both hands” moment:

Without this out-of-comfort-zone yet playful moment, would the free mark making with the black ink and pen in this subsequent mixed media painting have happened? It’s impossible to say, but I do think it’s part of why there’s such a sense of joy in this painting (enjoyment in exploring the mediums and the exploration of the subject, some rosehips in a glass jar).

And while this next painting (work-in-progress) may look like a graphite pencil and watercolour drawing in the middle of a realist painter’s comfort zone, in fact it was out of comfort zone because it’s graphite and acrylic ink. What’s reassuringly familiar to one person is unfamiliar to another. What’s scary is relative and individual, and changes as we progress on our artistic journeys.

It was a joy watching both of these paintings being created and develop, the enthusiasm, and tenacity.

The sunflower painting below was done by the same person who did the rosehip pencil drawing, after a weekend’s break. It’s mixed media, started with soft pastel, then acrylic inks and paint, and black ink. Much further out of comfort zone but at the same time easier because of the time spent earlier in the session just trying out? materials without worrying about results, being a kid again and enjoying pushing colour around.

Parts of it are still work-in-progress, less resolved, but I think it’s beautiful and painterly — a celebration of both the joy of sunflowers and paint — particularly the top left sunflower.

The next painting was done by someone who started the session never having been near acrylic paint. We were focusing on looking at a subject with an eye towards abstraction and impressionism rather than realism, suggesting rather than telling, reducing detail.

I enjoy all sorts of things about this, such as the sense of a surface in the bottom right, which starts my mind on a journey of “is it a table cloth or…?”. The suggestion of shapes in the background, the sense of depth behind the centre top. And something, which you wouldn’t know unless you had been there: the last-minute joyous adding of a glaze of magenta to the vase because it’s a favourite colour, and ties into the magenta in the flower centres, changing the overall dominance of yellow in the painting.

I had my own version, started as a demonstration piece (e.g. “this is how dark a shadow I’m thinking you might add, yes, really, this dark”) then continued a bit as I tidied up at the end of the session, using up the little bits of leftover paint. Parts were still wet when I took this photo and I’m interested to see how much the last layer of acrylic ink on the petals has sunken into the paper.

But I left it on the table in the workshop area of Skyeworks Gallery, so it’ll be a couple of days before I see it again. At the moment I’m thinking: “that jug is awfully tall!”




“It Doesn’t Feel Like One of Your Paintings”

I’d been struggling and tweaking, faffling and fiddling without resolve, trying to push a painting further than the previous version but in doing so had ended up in a hole. That’s when I asked the in-house art critic’s opinion. The words “It Doesn’t Feel Like One of Your Paintings” were exactly what I needed and, with hindsight, it seems obvious that this was the major issue.

I had liked my first large painting of flowers in a yellow jug (photo below), and the previous versions done on A3 paper, but had ideas I still wanted to try so I started a second canvas with a view to using more black/dark.

This was the first painting, on a 100x100cm canvas:
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

This is where the second version started, on a canvas that’s a bit smaller:
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

Then I allowed myself to be enticed by the dark side.
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

But then I felt I’d lost all the light and colour, so added more.

This is what the painting looked the first time I showed the in-house art critic.
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

After a cup of coffee and a cookie, and a ponder, I had another round with the painting. Working more loosely, letting paint run, trying to make it feel like a painting of mine and not over-think it.

This is what it looked like next time I showed the in-house art critic.
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

My last tweak was to add some more white to the cat. And left the inadvertent cat-head shape towards the bottom right which I’m not sure other people will see anyway.
Yellow Jug Flowers Painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

Is it finished? Is it more my style? Probably and yes, I think. Certainly I’m happier with it now, as is the in-house art critic. Studio cat has decided to sleep on the question and will let me know. What are you thoughts, on the painting and/or on style?

Inky Fingers, I Mean Flowers

The flowers I used for Tuesday’s mixed media workshop are now in my studio, a splash of bright colour and cheerfulness.
I’ve “rewarded” myself with some “playtime” at the end of yesterday and today inspired by them involving watercolour, acrylic ink, fluid acrylics, and black ink. In theory these are applied to the 350g watercolour paper with a brush or pen, but somehow my fingers always seem to find their way in too.
Yesterday’s painting before I applied black ink:

The point at which I decided to stop:

Today’s painting before the black and a few bits of rigger brush colour:

The point at which I stopped today:

I like different things about each of these, and can’t decide if I like the one with more black ink the most or the more restrained use of black. Which do you prefer?

I also want try to create a version where I manage to leave some of the paper blank (white), but whether I will manage to remains to be seen. Who knows what tomorrow might bring.

The Suggestion of Foxgloves (Painting in Progress)

There are more nights until it’s Christmas than there are until the days start getting longer again, but it will still be a long wait until the snowdrops emerge, followed by daffodils heralding spring. But that’s no reason for there not to be flowers on my easel.

My current painting-in-progress has white daisies, the suggestion of foxgloves, and an abundance of colour. (The in-house art critic used the word “tropical” at one point.) It was started on top of another abandoned daisy painting that had a layer of dark painted over it a few months ago when I decided it really wasn’t going where I wished and couldn’t be rescued. As I started this new painting the old daisies loomed beneath, but gradually they disappeared into the depths.

Four steps in a flower painting-in-progress by Marion Boddy-Evans Scotland Art

These two detail photos were taken after another round of painting from the photos above. I stopped to let everything dry overnight, and next need to assess the tonal contrast as well as see if there any inadvertent/unwanted pattern has crept in. (The painting is 100x100cm.)

Detail from painting in progress: daisies Marion BOddy-Evans Scotland artist Modern Impressionist

Detail from painting in progress: daisies Marion BOddy-Evans Scotland artist Modern Impressionist

Exploring Painting with Line

I’ve long liked the way Giacometti used line in his later paintings, and one of the challenges I’ve set myself for this year is to explore the use more line in a painting. On my easel at the moment is a large canvas featuring daisies in which I’d been doing this, working with a rigger brush, small flat brush, and acrylic marker pens. The latter feels like it shifts the making into “drawing” and saves having to constantly reload a brush, though they do create a consistent line (rather like a propelling pencil vs a sharpened pencil) rather than a variable one (as can easily be done with a brush).

You don’t see the line from afar, you’ve got to come quite close and then, for me, it rewards close looking. (And even closer to see the thin dark lines.) I’ve lost track of how many rounds I’ve had with each daisy, though there were at least two with dark and four with light. I don’t worry about counting, as it’s only the result that ultimately matters.
Painting in Prpgress: Daisy Lines

Here’s the whole painting as it is at the moment.
Painting in Prpgress: Daisy Lines 2

Here’s what it looked like the day before, prior to my ‘calming down’ the sky with a glaze of cobalt blue. I liked it at this stage, but felt it was too busy and distracting overall, that your eye needed a bit of respite.
Painting in Prpgress: Daisy Lines

How I Created “Symphony in White”

I’ve had quite a few questions about how I created the painting on my Interlude exhibition poster, “Symphony in White”, so here are a few photos I took while working on it. As so often happens, I don’t have any step-by-step photos of the later stages where it all comes together as I was too caught up in the painting and pondering. Fundamentally, it’s a combination of deliberate and happy accident, letting paint run and colours to mix, as well as leaving it to dry before applying another layer, all the while referring to the idea in my head.

I’d worked out the composition idea and started with a minimal pencil drawing on the 100x100cm canvas. I painted the negative space (pthalo turquoise, I think) and then added texture paste to where the flower heads would be.

Painting in Progress: Symphony in White 1

Texture Flower Base Layer no colour yet

I then spread it with a big brush, a little colour added to differentiate the flowers. I can’t remember what colours I used, but it looks to me as if I added some magenta top left, then used the colour that was still on the brush to do the other magenta-ish flowers, then added some yellow which has mixed to give green-ish and orange-ish. The specific colours don’t matter at this stage, it’s all about the texture.
Painting in Progress: Symphony in White 2

This was then left to dry overnight, to ensure the texture paste was definitely dry. More blue was added, and some magenta to some of the roses, and the painting sprayed with water to allow the colours to run.

Painting in Progress: Symphony in White 3

Before this was dry, I added some yellow and let it drip.

Painting in Progress: Symphony in White 4

And then a layer of titanium white.

Painting in Progress: Symphony in White 5

The paint I’m using is Golden High Flow which is about the consistency of ink, but with a different viscosity so behaves differently, and an high pigment loading (artspeak for seriously intense colour). The texture paste (Golden Light Molding paste) creates an absorbent surface. When I spray the paint with water it does interesting things. Having the canvas vertical uses gravity to encourage the paint to flow. You’ll also notice there’s a piece of fabric (raw canvas) to catch the drips; there’s more on the floor.

And this is where I run out of step-by-step photos. But there was more spraying of water, more colour, more white, more spraying, more waiting for paint to dry or partially dry (you can see there’s some white that’s run that has not mixed into still-wet paint), some? colour from the flowers added subtly into the top negative space, and eventually left to definitely dry. Then adding of tube titanium white with a brush and palette knife to give definition to the roses, some thick and some thinned with glazing medium, and some lifted off to reveal colour beneath (such as centres of flowers). And more pondering and more tweaking, and ultimately arriving at this as the finished painting. How long did it take? I don’t know, just as I don’t exactly know how I got the painting from as it was in the photo above to as it is in the photo below. I only have a rough idea of the journey to get there, and had a lot of enjoyment doing it.

Symphony in White. 100x100cm. Acrylic on canvas Rose painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
Symphony in White. 100x100cm. Acrylic on canvas. At Skyeworks Gallery.