In April and May 2020, during the worst of the Coronavirus, I stayed inside and started painting irises from photos, not the way I usually like to work.
Watercolour painting of yellow and white Flag Irises by a pond; 16″ x 12″. Although this photo was blurred I fell in love with the movement of these purple Flag Irises.Again in the painting I was confused about which petal belonged to which plant. Under normal circumstances I’m not bothered by such things but working from a photo made me want to work too realistically, ultimately resulting in more of a botanical illustration rather than a painting with an impression of motion.
Watercolour painting of purple Flag Irises on watercolour paper, 12″ x 16″. As I liked the overall look I decided to try again in my sketchbook, only this time I picked a different photo for my third iris.
Purple Flag Iris run through the photo app Stackables with the Cracked Sepia formula which has messed around with the colour but highlights the structure.This attempt worked much better but in the process I still was obsessed with the configuration and number of petals.
My sketch book, a watercolour painting of purple Flag Irises by the water, sketch book opened to 5 1/2″ x 17″. Working from photos is very different from working from life. In life I can move around and examine the plant. With no other angle than the one in the photo, I found the structure of Flag Irises confusing.
I looked up the parts of an iris and found that they have six petals BUT the names of these various parts were different than anything I was familiar with. There was the ‘standard’, the ‘style arm’, the ‘style crest’, the ‘falls’ and the ‘signal’ or ‘yellow patch’ where the ‘beard’ is located in Bearded Irises.
Later I found another illustration with more familiar labels: the ‘standard’ is the ‘petal’, the ‘falls’ the ‘sepal’ and the ‘style arm’ is the petaloid.
Using my own photos I did an ink sketch which I then tried to paint using Fluid Acrylics. They’re certainly a lot brighter than watercolour, and less transparent, even when mixed with lots of water. Now I’m hoping that when I get back to my studio and working large again all this close examination will pay off.
More of the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Close Examination.