It All Started with a Bunch of Pink Roses

It all started with a bunch of roses, which after a few days made their way into my studio. Faced with the decision of where to put them so that if I moved my easel I’d still have the same viewpoint, I decided to stand them on the base of my easel. Shift my easel and the roses would move too. That this viewpoint also eliminated the vase might have played a part in the choice too…

img_20151216_114330385.jpg

I started as I usually do, by covering the white of the canvas and broadly blocking in composition and basic shapes. I’m working in acrylics, with magenta and a blue.? (Think it was phthalo blue. It wasn’t Prussian, because I was using my tubs of Schmincke and I don’t have Prussian blue in those.)

Painting Roses Underpainting

While this was not quite dry, a few rounds with lighter pinks and purples, then sprayedwith water to encourage it to drip.
Painting Roses WIP

I then left it overnight to dry and ponder. My thoughts at this point were that it felt rather melancholic (Facebook friends tended to agree) and that I might bring in some “sunlight and happiness” with yellow or gold. And what better than that most beautiful of warm golds, quinacridone gold?

img_20151213_140923459.jpg

A round with this (including onto some of the background), rounds of darker and ldifferently;s and purples, until I found myself wanting to make small tweaks and stopped. It’s titled “That Moment“; size 50x50cm. There are things I love about it and things I’d do differently both will be taken forward into another painting.

That Moment. Floral flower rose painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

Detail from roses painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
Painting Detail: “That Moment”

Video: The Daisy Painting Brush

Q: “Loved your flower painting; what size and type brush did you use for the petals? –M.W.”

A: It’s a large, flat, coarse, hog hair one that’s about two inches wide. They’re sometimes called a varnishing brush.

Here’s a short video clip to give you an idea of what I’m doing. Working wet-on-wet, remember is to wipe the brush regularly so you can pick up and apply ‘clean colour’. Remember too that whether the brushstroke is into the yellow or coming out of it influences how mixed the white becomes. Don’t second guess yourself but keep going. Mistakes can be rectified and overpainted later. She who hesitates is lost and all that.

On My Easel: Supersized Daisies

wpid-wp-1449412329752.jpg
All had gone well until I moved the easel to take a photo, tipping off the canvas. Fortunately I ‘caught’ it in the blue area, which was more easily repainted than the daisies. Oops!

This morning my fingers itched to paint on a big canvas, so out came a fresh 1x1m (39×39″) canvas and a 10cm (4″) 5cm (2″) brush. Not long in, I was reminded that when working big you need put out a lot more paint. Self-evident, you’d think, but when I’ve been painting on a smaller scale a lot I tend to forget and the paint runs out after only a few brushstrokes.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the flower paintings I’d done recently, and have been studying the florals of artists such as Egon Schiele (sunflowers less well know than Van Gogh’s), Claude Monet, Odilon Redon and a few contemporary painters including Kurt Jackson, Bobbie Burgers, Jimmy Wright. Being mid-winter growing flowers are in short supply, but I’ve got a pot of hothouse mums toughing it out in my studio and standing in for daisies.

Started by virtuously doing thumbnail sketches of compositions in a sketchbook, just like you’re supposed to, then used my first idea anyway and tried not to hear the little voice snarking “told you so”. The white was eliminated with turquoise phthalo and cadmium orange hue. I started with the orange, cleaned my brush (properly!) and applied the turquoise at the top. Then without cleaning the brush swirled it around in circles in the still-wet orange so the two colours mixed to create a darkish brown. The idea being that this would read as “shadow” beneath the flowers.

After cleaning my brush (thoroughly!) I applied cadmium yellow deep to the centres of these swirls in vaguely circular shapes that would become the centre of the daisies. Another clean of the brush and out came lots of titanium white. Started at the bottom and worked my way up, applying “petals”. Most were a single brush stroke, and I wiped the brush cleanish before moving onto the next flower. (I wiped the brush on a spare canvas, using the paint to create a pale yellow ground on it ready for another day.) Lastly I sprayed some water to make it rain, and that’s where the painting was left to dry. Round One finished.

wpid-wp-1449412334319.jpg

 

Five Small Flower Paintings (Which is Your Favourite?)

When creating Dancing Skye Daisies I was also working on a few smaller paintings (15x20cm/6×8″), but these had only got about three-quarters finished. Today I had another round with them, and think they’re just about there but will decide tomorrow when there’s good light again. (Specifically: 1. whether there’s enough light, or whether it’s all too mid- tone and dark; 2. whether there wants to be more ‘foxglove pink’? as it seems? bit purple.)

In the meantime I’ve been trying to decide which is my favourite. At the moment it’s a tie between #1 and #3 (counting from the left).

Five Small Flower Paintings by Isle of Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Five Small Flower Paintings. Each 15x20cm. Acrylic on canvas. If you’re trying to figure out the logistics of what’s in this photo, the flower paintings are hanging on large clips I put on the edge of a shelf; the others are dry early-works-in-progress lying flat on a lower shelf behind them.

How My “Dancing Skye Daisies” Painting Got Its Name

How "Dancing Skye Daisies" Painting Got Its NameSomething unexpected happened this week that led to my latest flower painting getting its name. After I posted a comment on Facebook saying it still needed a title and suggestions were welcome, I had a message from a teacher at one of Skye’s primary schools asking if I would let the children in her class name it for me. As if that weren’t delightful enough, I then discovered they had studied me as a local artist earlier this year and were very inspired by my artwork. Wow.

The class came up with a long list of suggestions and after much discussion they combined the top two into their final name suggestion: Dancing Skye Daisies. This was because the painting was done on Skye and they thought it looked as though the daisies were dancing in the breeze.

It’s a thoughtful, apt title, and I love it.

Yesterday, by arrangement, I popped in to show the class the painting in real life and chatted a little about it (including how the grass also looks like seaweed and the sky like water). Consensus was that it was much bigger than they thought!

My thanks to all for the very special event that will be treasured, along with the story behind the name “Dancing Skye Daisies“.
Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting

Dancing Skye Daisies, 120x60cm, acrylic on canvas

Painting Update: Daisies & Foxgloves

A month on and I feel I’ve resolved my Daisies & Foxgloves painting (see previous work-in-progress photo here). It’s had another layer of blue sky/rain, then another round with two yellows for grass/stems applied with a bristle-hair sword brush, a round with magenta and permanent rose on the foxgloves, and a round of fresh yellow centres and white petals to the daisies. I’m happy with it, and hopefully the person who commissioned it will be too. The colour in this photo isn’t quite right, taken in uneven light; the right-hand half is closest, the left is too saturated.

Update: This painting now has a title.

Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting
Size: 120x60cm, acrylic on canvas

Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting

Painting-in-Progress: Daisies & Foxgloves

I’m at that anxiety-inducing “don’t mess it up now” stage of a large flower-painting, where things are going well and it still needs a few more rounds to refine things but not be overworked or something “wrong” done. The desire to “get it right” is exacerbated by it being a large painting (120x60cm) and a commission. It’s tempting to pick up a tiny brush and get pernickity, but I do know from past experience this isn’t the solution that works for me. The route I need to take is to do it in stages, leaving it to dry thoroughly so that if the latest layer/round goes wrong I can simply wipe it off. These work-in-progress photos were taken after I downed brushes last night. I won’t paint on it today, but will leave it in pondering mode while I do other things. Partly to enjoy what I’ve done so far, partly to consolidate my thoughts on what I will do next, and partly as an incentive to get the admin done.

Update: See finished painting

Flower painting in progress
Flower painting in progress, size 120x60cm, acrylic on canvas

Detail: Flower painting in progress Boddy-Evans

Thoughts on Half a Dozen Small Painting Studies

Rainy Day Daisies painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans

These are a few of the studies I’ve done recently; in each I was trying something specific or remind myself of something. Often I work on a pair together, aiming to push the one a little further than the other. I find mounting makes me see the piece more objectively and assess it more critically, not least because you have to decide where to crop the painting with that sharp, stark mount edge.

In this sheep study I was trying to work wet-on-wet in the clouds, letting the white paper do its thing. The danger is my tendency to overwork it, then needing to use white acrylic or gouache to rescue it. The very dark bit of blue echoing the shape of a bird (or perhaps sheep’s ears?) was a ‘happy accident’.

Sheep painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49

With this woodland study I was again working wet-on-wet, trying to use the white of the paper as an integral part of the painting, rather than covering it all up as I would do when painting on canvas. I was also trying to use cobalt blue for sky, rather than my more usual Prussian blue. Overall the colours are? softer and softer than my ‘usual’, like colours muted by mist (hence the title).

Forest tree painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49

With these two tree studies I started with a layer of thin quinacridone gold, which gives the glowing light gold in the background and the deeper orange-golds on the trunks. I wanted to create a sense of wintry sunlight where in the afternoon it turns the landscape gold but it’s not exactly warm. So warmth from the quinacridone gold background and cold from the top layer of blues on the edges of the trees. The second study I used more blue; still deciding if it’s too much. Colours:? quinacridone gold, cadmium red, perelyne green, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, titanium white.

Forest tree painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49
Forest tree painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49

I’ve been in the mood for tackling another large flower painting, along the lines of Listening to Daisies. These two studies were intended to remind me of how I’d painted that: the layering, the colours,the refining detail from chaos. The second one I tried to add stronger darks, for more tonal contract, something I ought to have done at a lower layer.

Rainy Day Daisies painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49
Rainy Day Daisies painting by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Mixed media on paper. Mounted size: 25/x25cm (10×10″). ?49

These paintings are all now at Skyeworks Gallery (?49 each).

Not shown are the other half dozen studies that ended up as a muddy confused mess or didn’t get anywhere near anything sensible that are still pinned to my easel. I’ll have another round with some, overworking with opaque or semi-opaque colours; the rest I’ll save for when I need something to rip up in frustration abandon.