Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lilac Blossom

Back in the studio, time to begin a new painting, and as usual my inclination was towards flowers. I was influenced by the subject this week at AVA which is 'Spring' and thought I would look for something of that nature to start.
Over the past few weeks I seem to have done several paintings of subjects outside my comfort zone and we have all been agreed that it is good to push oneself from time to time, so I thought I would continue to try something a bit different. This time however, I stayed in the floral zone but decided to try to paint a more complex flower. I so often tackle single large blooms so its time for a change.


I came across a couple of lilac photos from my garden last season in my resources folder and thought they would do as a starting point.

The challenge here was to paint these blossoms without tightening up too much in an attempt to paint all those little buds and flowers.

I started in the usual way of covering the paper with a wash of various mauves, purples and pinks and added some greens at the top. When this was dry, I briefly and lightly drew in the approximate positions of the flower heads, and with some trepidation set about trying to represent the lilac as attractively but as loosely as possible.

In order to achieve this, I used lots of water and plenty of gouache to create the tiny flowers, paying as much attention to what I left out, as what I put in. I did not find it easy and could have given up on a number of occasions during the process. What I did find helped was only painting in short burst. Immediately I felt the painting getting too detailed, I gave it a rest and came back with lots of water and paint a little while later.




In this photo you can just about see where the initial washes were placed. As I painted, I included some of the foliage to help see how the composition was developing.



 I tried very hard to only add recognisable flower shapes sparingly to help maintain the looseness. This I did by using white gouache in places mixed into the wet underpainting or on drier areas for more detail. I thought it might be useful to see this in a little more detail.







The whole process did require quite a bit of patience as it seemed to take ages, but when the flowers were finally finished and the background and greenery were added, I was pleased to have stuck with it and seen it through to the end. It has also given me another process to try to refine and develop which stops us getting bored with the same old thing!




                                         'Lilac Blossom'  Fabriano Artistico Extra White Paper
                                                         Approx 28cm x 38cm

Now that it is on screen, maybe the leaves should be a bit darker and glossier, but that can easily be remedied after living with it for a while!

19 comments:

  1. A lovely result Yvonne and once again I really appreciated reading your process. I used a similar approach when tackling Wisteria, would be interested to know how you would get a gloss to the leaves?

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    1. Thanks Lorraine, Yes Wisteria is a similar challenge and I would tackle it in ta similar way as well. With regard to the leaves, I think I will darken them quite a bit maybe using my favourite Appatite Green, and then lift out areas to create the highlights. This process can be used very successfully with rose leaves etc.

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  2. Excellent painting Yvonne...I am always trying to get a sort of blue print or template for how to paint flowers with minimal detail, have managed roses, hydrangea, carnations, primroses so far and am now trying daffs and will carry on through the summer a the flowers come in to bloom. I do like the way you add bg first the the drawing, I don't usually draw but this idea would help on the occasions I do.

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    1. Thanks for the comments Judith. I am glad it works for you. I always sketch very lightly first just to sort out the composition in my mind, but usually after the initial wash. If I draw first and wash after, this would seal in the pencil lines, and I like to remove them as I go along.

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  3. Exquisite work Yvonne. he time you've put into this comes off. I agree that a little more depth and gloss in the foliage would give it an extra lift. Thanks for the tip about 'walking away' to stay loose.

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    1. Thanks Mick. Ido find that if things are not going too well, it gets tighter and tighter, and by continuing it just makes it worse. Walking away for a bit seems to give me a new perspective on what I am trying to achieve.

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  4. Hello, Yvonne. Your lilacs are exquisite! And thank you so very much for posting your steps in creating this wonderful and LOOSE painting. I will study your photos, so that, hopefully, I can have another go at some hydrangeas I had started. It just got too tight, heavy and dark. Thank you again!!!

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    1. Thanks for the lovely comments. Hydrangeas are very similar flowers with the same problems, so I hope you manage to produce something with which you are pleased.

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    1. Thank you Polly. What a lovely comment. I am glad you enjoy looking.

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  6. This is lovely/ Great colour combinations.

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  7. Thank you Peter, I am glad you like it. Must try to get away from the pinks and purples a bit!

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  8. Hi Yvonne,
    This is really, really beautiful.
    I like this colour very much.Thank you for sharing.
    You always inspire me.

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  9. You are very welcome, Hani. I just hope the posts vary enough to avoid being boring!

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  10. Yvonne I came across your lilacs on Pinterest collecting watercolor prints that I admired. It brought me to your website and I love the process of how all your watercolor paintings come to be! I am new to watercolor painting and I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and knowledge and I've put your website into my favorites on my computer.

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