I don’t usually post stuff from my art blog on Facebook, but I have been nominated to post a painting a day for 10 days on Facebook by Deanna Fogstrom, one of my studiomates. You can find her work at: www.dfogstrom.weebly.com.
I’ve decided to post my early COVID work when the lockdown made me listless and uninspired.
- At one point, in early May, I decided I had to start somewhere. My first attempt, painting some purple Calla Lilies from a photo, currently makes me cringe. It seems I had forgotten how to paint watercolour, and I liked my photos of the lilies way better.
- Next I tried painting some yellow Calla Lilies from a photo. This turned out better although I still liked the photo I was working from better. The drawing paper I was working on is really too thin to work with watercolour but not painting in a background seems to help.
- Members of the Maranta or Prayer Plant family Marantacea often have colourful variegated foliage. I saw a whole bunch of different varieties of these plants down at the Botanical Garden in Puerto Vallarta and have a many photos to work from. At this point in my COVID work I decided that part of my problem was that I was working on ‘drawing’ paper which doesn’t take watercolour very well – it ripples badly when wet, and the paint doesn’t ‘lay down’ properly.
- Deciding to try proper watercolour paper, I delved into my sketchbook that I had taken to Mexico with me last winter, and found a pencil drawing of a Screw Pine outside the hotel patio. Adding watercolour to it was a dream – the paper was way better to work on. And because the drawing was from life instead of a photo I liked that better too. I especially liked that the drawing was spread over two pages of the sketchbook – it made me think that in the future I might do a two-panel painting.
- Having experienced the joy of using real watercolour paper on painting #4 I got out my watercolour block. These blocks are glued at the edges so they don’t ripple when wet paint is added. However, my block had a half-finished painting on the top sheet, and I had to finish that before I could get to a clean sheet underneath. This old painting was of a Flame Tulip/Fire Dancer. This represents my older (better) work, when I was combining flowers and dancers. Hopefully I’ll get back to painting like this in the future.
- With my watercolour block open to a brand new top sheet I started working on an Iris painting, again from a photo as I still wasn’t going out much. Working from photos isn’t that great for me; mostly I tend to like the photo better. I did four paintings of Irises and in every one I feel I was trying too hard to be realistic – they’re all a bit too much like less than perfect botanical illustrations.
- In late May I picked a short route through the small park outside my door, where there were only Canada Geese and no potential plague carriers wandering around. I was inspired for the first time in a long time – the yellow irises in the duck pond had all these snaky reflections and contrast between dark and light. It was glorious! And I used my travel sketchbook again, this time in a long vertical painting.
- The province started opening up in June and the cases of coronavirus in BC had dropped below 10 a day. I actually went out and did a little sketching, first these waterlilies that were blooming in the nearby Lagoons. The travel sketch book again, two pages across.
- By July the cases of COVID in the province started to increase, but I had been released into the world and it was hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Yuccas were coming out in full bloom and this happened.
- A watercolour of a zucchini squash in bloom, going back to my old sketch book. Now that I had worked out how to paint with watercolour again I took a chance and did this on less appropriate paper. I skipped putting in a watercolour background which seems critical with this thinner paper to stop excessive rippling. It didn’t work out too badly.
For more of these paintings see Gallery of Plant and People Paintings.