The final in the series of my watercolour flowers challenge from one original clematis painting is here. I wanted a darker and more dramatic image on this one, showing the petals moving from sunshine on the left of the painting, into the shadows of approaching night progressing across to the right hand side of the painting.
A review of the whole series of watercolour flowers:
I’ve made it to the end of another painting challenge and here’s the collection of works. Now for the big question – Why do we do it to ourselves?
Every time I take on one of these I reach a point somewhere along the way where I ask myself that question. It doesn’t seem particularly sane. But I do know the answer: I do it because it makes me paint more. It’s very easy at the end of a working day to just sit passively in front of the TV – that’s always a temptation. But if I’m working towards a goal, I will get into the studio for an hour or two before I slow down for the evening. It’s as simple as that.
A painting challenge just like any other training, is an opportunity to practice and improve. It’s really no different to the marathon runner who puts their running shoes on every evening and gets on the road for a training session, or a cyclist who pedals along tarmac for an hour a day. It’s just exercising a different set of muscles – the creative ones in this case. (I’m sure we do have creative muscles – if not literally, then at least figuratively.)
Here’s a brief breakdown of the painting challenge works:
Another one of the watercolour flowers to end the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. The focus in this one of on the stamens that hold the flower’s pollen, and the shape of the petals provide a route to the source for all pollinating insects: natures clever design at work again, enticing the carriers of precious cargo to come and collect it for distribution.
The second of my abstracts of watercolour flowers created from one original watercolour of a clemetis flower. Yesterday’s painting was about capturing the way big heavy plops of raindrops splatter off the petals of flowers eventually leaving them drenched.
My follow on from that was to consider the verdant green and crisp clear colours that pop out immediately after the rainfall when the air is washed clean of dust and the plants seem to be taking great gulps of cool fresh air. I don’t know yet what the other paintings will bring. This is an exploration that is self-guided from the point of cutting the original painting into pieces.
My last painting in the One Hundred Wash Challenge was one of the watercolour flowers I did in the series. It was a purple clematis flower painted from a photograph in our garden. Looking back at it now, it was a bit ‘Meh’ because it lacked any real excitement. But to be fair, the purpose of the challenge wasn’t to create completed paintings, but to learn about pigment and paper.
As with many of my original challenge pieces, it has been sitting in the browser in my studio, waiting for it’s day to come. And today was that day.
It was time to slice it up and spice it up – and create some value for Running with Brushes from it.
Creating abstracts from watercolour flowers
Naturally, I had to turn this into a challenge within a challenge. I decided to try and create at least four abstracts from this one, and convey something different about the flower in each one. So here’s the first of the paintings I created out of it. Tomorrow I’ll post the second one.
It’s hard to know what to write about this self portrait – painting it felt strange, writing about it even more so. I’m not sure if other artists feel a little narcissistic painting themselves, but given how uncomfortable I am with photographs of myself, painting my own image was inevitably going to be excruciating.
I suspect that for any portrait artist, painting a self portrait is a bit of a right of passage – and yes, I know that painting the back of my head is a bit of a cop out. But what I liked about the reference photograph I used for this was the sense of height and perspective on the world. The photograph was taken on a brief break at the top of the mountain above Kalk Bay in Cape Town. It’s a 3 hour hike, at the top of which you can see both the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans you are so high up. I loved the feeling of being so high up looking across the suburbs below out to the ocean. And am I happy with the result? Partly and here’s my analysis:
Things that didn’t work in my first draft self portrait:
I struggled to capture the sense of activity in the distance below. I was focusing so much on the figure, the focus of the painting, that I let the ground below become muddy.
The rocks behind me aren’t well defined. Once the muddiness appeared on the right hand side of the painting I decided not to put any more time into it and didn’t go back to correct the rocks
Reasons I am pleased with my first draft self portrait:
This is my first detailed figure painting – and for a first I’m reasonably happy with the result
The sense of height and perspective work for me in this painting.
Now the question I ask myself is whether I should redo this painting to get it completely right. I suspect I will have to do so at some point – just because I really want to master the pieces I don’t think worked well.