English Summer Poppies

Poppies (graphite)

Poppies (graphite)

 

Last week seems like a blur, trying to finish work up and get ready to come away… I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday and we’ve been in England for four days now. I’m sorry I haven’t managed to pick up a brush or pencil sooner.

The weather is being very kind to us and I even got sunburned today (I guess that’s not so kind, really), and I’m really enjoying being back. We’re soaking up the sun in such a lovely bit of the country, staying in North Norfolk, and our hosts have an amazing garden.

Today I sat for half an hour and sketched a few of the masses of purple poppies they have growing out in the back garden, and I may try painting them tomorrow too.

Raise a Glass to Our First Grape Crop

Black Grapes (Watercolour)

Black Grapes (Watercolour)

One of the reasons we were attracted to buy our house three years ago was the lovely old grapevine growing in the back garden – it looked a hundred years old draped across the dead stump of an olive tree. We were very excited to see what we could make of it, but despite lots of hard work we’ve struggled to get more than a few bunches of sad looking grapes over the past couple of years… I suspect the birds were helping themselves while we weren’t looking!

This year I was quick with the nets and we’ve managed to cultivate a crop of grapes that was actually worth saving, and today we decided they were ripe enough and set to picking them before they all fell off. We gathered an impressive 18kg which we promptly squashed and began the process of wine making! Of course we had to try using our feet first (after a thorough wash & sanitising), and it’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine :-). Then it got too difficult and we resorted to hands to finish the crushing.

Barrel of Grapes

Barrel of Grapes

So, feeling tired and a little sunburnt, I have a small painting of black grapes for you today… While I was painting I wasn’t very happy… too much assuming I knew what to paint and not enough actually looking at the subject. As a result they’re quite heavy and overworked, however, they do look like the bunch I was painting – a lovely soft bloom across them rather then bright highlights.

Soft Summer Roses, Pt. 4

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

What a lovely end to the week! I’ve spent an hour or so this afternoon building up the petals of the top rose, adding shadows and extra depths of yellow to the heart of the flower, and then also adding some foliage here and there.

I have to admit I’m thoroughly pleased with this picture… it’s so unlike anything I would normally expect to produce… not in the subject matter because I love roses, but it’s so much more delicate and also looser – probably because I managed it without any drawing, absolutely no pencil outlines! That obviously helps immensely, and means it doesn’t look like a paint by numbers :-).

So it must be time for a Friday evening, had a great day, end of the week type celebration – See you at the pub, first drink’s on me 😉

Soft Summer Roses, Pt. 3

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

My mind is spinning with the information about neutrals and greys in my new book, and then I return to my painting of roses and struggle to see where I can apply it all…. I suppose the information needs to filter into my memory and will come out when it’s needed (I hope!).

In the meantime I continued with the rose painting pictured, revelling in the colours. My second rose has a bit of a bouffant ‘do’, I think I got the proportions a bit out :-). The shading is slowly coming along, even though I lost my way in the middle of the flower – something to do with not seeing the total shape clearly. I also put more background colour in, and will probably make it darker as I progress to create some negative stalks and some leaves.

Soft Summer Roses

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

Soft Summer Roses (Watercolour)

Our small front garden has three rose bushes, all of which were here when we moved in… I wasn’t really a big lover of roses, but I’ve become quite attached to them over the past two and a half years. They’re all quite different – there’s a deep red, long stemmed single bloom variety with an amazingly sweet perfume (almost sickly sweet), a mutli-bloom candy striped pink and white one, and a small under-developed bush that only manages one or maybe two blooms a year… but when they appear they are so beautiful!

This rose bush has just delivered it’s first blossom of the season, possibly the only one we’ll see, and it’s the most perfect full rose of soft yellow with a delicate tinge of pink at the tip of some of the outer petals. It’s enticed me to try a loose rose painting, my first of the year, with no pencil outline to guide me. I admit, I studied a few online videos first to gain some ideas for technique – I have previously tried Jean Haines tutorials and today I found another artist, Trevor Waugh, who’s demonstrations are stunning.

My effort is a combination of both techniques, I think, with my own freehand interpretations… I’m really pleased with the start I’ve made, although I got caught out by the speed the washes dried so there are a few hard edges in the background that need addressing later. You’ll maybe have noticed that I left a space for another flower? That’s a bit of artistic license as it only ever grows one at a time, but I thought it might make for a better composition.