June’s Painting Project: Bluebells

Bluebells transform a landscape into dance of purple-blue amidst all sorts of greens. The flowers are a distinctive colour, blue that leans strongly to purple but isn’t any of the straight-from-the-tube blues available to us, so gives an excuse to spend time colour mixing with all our possible colours. (See: My Watercolour Recipe for Bluebell Blue.)

Scottish bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) have flowers mostly on one side of the stem, pulling it over in a stoop, curls on the petals, and narrow leaves, about 1cm. It’s Spanish blubells that are more upright, plus all the variations that come with hybrids (which means there’s leeway for artistic licence).

The project for this month is to do a painting using this reference photo as the starting point:

A painting about the woodland floor, the patterns of colour and shape, light and dark, soft edges and hard, the layers of foliage. Painting style can be anything, it could be realism enjoying the details, impressionist enjoying patterns of colour (e.g. Renoir’s Path in the Wood) and brushwork (like Monet), or abstract as in this Hommage à Klimt. You might divide it into a grid of little pictures in the style of last month’s project.

For my own painting I’m visualising something in the style of Gustav Klimt’s forest paintings e.g. his Birch Forest but in blue-greens and with flowers not fallen leaves. A bluebells version of my Listening to Trees painting (from 2013) less abstracted than my Listening to Bluebells painting.

Tips: If it feels like an impossibly complicated scene, start by reducing it to its main shapes (e.g. rectangles of tree trunk, triangles of ferns/leaves, dancing curls of bluebells). This will give you the building blocks for a composition. Look at where the lightest lights are and the darkest darks (maybe ignoew the sliver of light across the mid-ground). Do some colour mixing for shades of green and your bluebell blue. Think of painting it in layers rather than from blank canvas/paper to finished in one go, working from main shapes towards detail, what can be suggested and what must be described.


Here are some additional reference photos to provide extra information and inspiration:

Maybe your painting take a mouse’s eye-view?
This a bit of a “spot the bluebells” photo when viewed small, but it gives a sense of the edge of a bit of the Uig woodland where bluebells thrive. The bluebells had been out for a bit when I took this photo and the “other stuff” has grown up, hiding them.
How about including some dandelions?

As always, if you’d like to have your paintings included in the next photo gallery, email a photo to me or send through social media. If you’d prefer for it to be shared without your full name, just let me know.

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