Soft Focus Poppies – a year makes a difference

These Soft Focus Poppies are inspired by a photograph taken by Marc of poppies growing in our garden.
It’s one I first tackled in my first few months of painting. Sometimes it’s really good to look back and compare your earlier style of painting to what you’re doing now. It’s a good (if not particularly scientific) way of measuring progress in your technique and style.
I found when I first started working in watercolours that I hadn’t quite got brave enough to let the water do it’s work. Painting still seemed like an activity where one had to put the paint exactly where you wanted it on the paper, and expect it to stay there.
Of course, once you get to understand the dynamics of watercolour, you realise this isn’t always the case. In fact, if you like a loose style of painting, it’s the antithesis of what you often want the pigment to do.
I’m rather enjoying this half finished picture of soft focus poppies, painted from the same photograph I used for inspiration for one I painted earlier this year. The style is much looser, allowing the pigment to work its magic. I think I may just leave it part done for a while so I can enjoy the flow of colour.
Soft Focus Poppies

Soft Focus Poppies – the early version

And here’s the one I painted earlier. What a difference a year’s practice makes. There’s a tightness in the earlier painting that doesn’t convey the softness and flexibility of the petals. The later painting has a satisfying flow between tonal values and colour variation. I particularly like the blue shadows creeping into the background in the top righthand corner of the painting.

Perhaps this painting should be tried again in a couple of years time again. The differences will be interesting to see.