Sunday, 9 August 2015

Laburnum seedpods

About the present
I haven’t been at my dump as much as I had hoped this year. But this blog is also about my botanical painting adventures (it just become that...), not just the adventures at the dump. So here we go! 

I have wanted to paint laburnum seedpods for some time now. Last year I picked a lot of them and they have been hanging on my wall all the time under the watchful eye of artist Helene Schjerfbeck. But I did not know how to paint them. As they are, huh – that would be tricky. I lay waken in the nights and pondered. 

In Swedish laburnum is called Gullregn, gull (guld) = gold and regn = rain. I like to paint curled up rhododendron leafs, and at a certain point they are golden – so why not let the laburnum seedpods rain down from a golden rhododendron leaf! 

First I did some color testing and to get to know the ins and outs of the seedpods.  Less Raw Sienna and more Burnt Umber was the solution, and go easy with the gray.

I then went on with drawing the rhododendron, easy bit, done it before. Then I took one bundle of laburnum seedpods and started to draw. I picked them of the stem and draw them one after another. I numbered them on the paper when I draw. And I put tiny tags on each individual pod. I draw 12. 

After that it was time for composing, I redraw them all on transparent paper and started to move them around until I found the best composition. It took me 4-5 days, and one more seedpod, before I was happy.

I transferred it all onto watercolor paper and started to paint. 

To paint a seedpod
I slowly painted one or two seedpods at the same time. Carefully covering rest of the paper with scrap paper so I don’t ruin the paper with color stains or smudge from my hand.

I first lay down one wash with Burnt Umber and immediately took out the highlights. I then painted the first layer on the small seeds. After this had dried properly I erased my pencil lines. 

One more layer of Burnt Umber and more work on the seeds. After that it was all details, I painted with my 00 brush! When I was satisfied with the details, the shadows and the overall outcome I let it dry again. Then I lay on a wash of Raw Sienna, and carefully lifted out the highlights. After that I went over the whole thing one more time and deepened the shadows and make all lines as clear as possible. And fixed things that needed to be fixed.

And then there were 12 more …

I painted the pods behind the rhododendron leaf first, then the rhododendron and after that the seedpod in front of the leaf. I do so because that is the easiest way to get sharp forms. Painting behind an already painted form easily lead to blurred and smudged lines. 

To amuse myself I did not look at the entire picture before everything was painted. I covered up the painted pods as soon they where finished. That mean that there were some correction that needed to be done at the end so everything was connected. 

But it was fun to surprise myself with a bit of mystery painting!

My colorselection for this painting was narrow
My gray was mixed of Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue and Transparent Yellow.
The brown for the seedpods was Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Beside this I only used Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna. The seedpods are mostly painted with Burnt Umber and the gray. 
The inside of the rhododendron leafs is painted with Raw Sienna and the outside with Quinacridone Gold. Details with Burnt Umber and the gray.

The painting
Dancing and falling seedpods. From a golden rhododendron leaf.
Tricky to get a good photo though ... But I'm very pleased with my effort this past week.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Early April - a year later

Today it is birthday party for this blog - I started it a year ago. And I celebrated it the only way possible - a visit to the dump of course. It was my first visit this year. The weather or the time hasn't been right - and the place is actually not that fantastic during winter. It is only if our MTB take us that way, but of some reasons they haven't this winter. Too many colds and flues has put an irritating stop to that sort of outings.

But today I took my regular city bike and pedal my way to the dump. I put my bike at the bottom of the hill and left it there and slowly walked over the hill to the see what had happened since my last visit.

At the highest point someone has put a sign with name and altitude, always good to know where you are.

All the giant hogweeds are down for the season and new ones are emerging. But today it was possible to see the deers feeding on the grass.

The only flowering things are coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) and a few Yellow Star-of-Betlehem (Gagea lutea). 
I think I'm bringing the wrong tools for doing good sketches in the field, to few and wrong colors and not the right brush. This setup is good for messy urban sketching, but not for botanical stuff. But I tried at least! And I had an audience of a 5 year old girl who declared "Mom, I want to stay". I told her to go home and paint a flower ... :-)

There are lots of reed growing on the slopes, and they are beautiful this time of year. All swept the same way of the wind, broken and brittle. I took some with me home and painted in the calm of my study.
In the ground beneath all the giants there are lots of shells in wonderful colors. I have never drawn nor painted one so here are my first attempts on them.

Last, the dump showed that it still is ..... a dump. A broken shovel just thrown away ... 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Acorn story, part 3

Things now happened very fast. And apparently during the nights.

One evening the little stem were still in the curled fashion, but the next morning it had straightened up. Why does it grow during the nights and not during the days when there are at least little daylight (this is early January in Sweden...).

I tried to paint the delicate green stem from a photo, but I did the stem and the leaf far to big.

Only 4 days later the little curl had grow to a big leaf. But then it sort of stopped, so it is still about the same size.

Then there were silence from the acorns. The two other did notning and the time just went by for a month. But suddenly, on the first of February, one of the others started to sprout! But I think it got it all wrong, it sprouted in the bottom part. And after just a few days the sprout dried and shrinked.

I had allmost given up on that acorn so you can imagine how happy I became the other day when I saw it sprouting again - and now in the right end!

So today I gathered my drawing and painting tools and started up my computer so I could look at my reference photos and did a triptyc.

 I think the acorn are happy to be portrayed.