Monday, 25 August 2008


The Shasta Daisies are long gone now - cut to the ground and consigned to the compost bin. The one thing I'll do differently next year is to give them some support as they grow so tall strong winds just blow them over. Not so these Crocosmia. They are much stiffer and spikey and can put up with the gale force winds we have had recently. As well as the torrential rain. These bright beauties can handle just about anything Mother Nature throws at them and they still stand there beaming. And the bees just love them too. A lovely warm and sunny afternoon brings me out into the garden again for another painting session starting with a sketch drawing to help me feel my way into the subject:

Neocolour II on paper, A4: "Crocosmia"; Without preliminaries I dive straight in with these water-soluable pastels dancing my way across the paper trying to capture the flowers orange and scarlet exhuberance with the long green spearlike leaves pointing towards them as though they might have been missed! With some touches of water to blend the colours a bit smoother I am finished with the sketch and looking to move on to a larger painting. I feel a surge of confidence and decide I will paint with acrylics to keep it clean and fresh:

Mixed Media on board, 46x61cm: "Crocosmia Clump"; After making initial marks to place the flower racemes with yellow, orange and scarlet Neocolour pastels on the primed hardboard I work in and around them with cerulean mixed with white very fluidly to try to make the image lively. Where the wet acrylics touches the Neocolours they blend and run into each other blurring the edges and running in a way that satisfies a sense of playfulness. So much so I start another one to see if I can do it again:

Mixed Media on plywood, 39x61cm: "Crocosmia Again"; Now I'm having fun! I recently bought some thin sheets of plywood (6mm) cut them to various sizes and primed them with gesso. They have been lying around the studio waiting for a moment like this. And I love the open texture of the plywood surface as the acrylic paint soaks right into it. Repeating the process as the first one I am enjoying the action as I stand in the warm sunshine painting 'en plein air'. In fact here's the garden set up:

You will notice how large the clump of Crocosmia is, and there are a few others like this in different parts of the garden. Next you will notice the great lump of concrete holding my easle in place. Strong gusts of wind were just about lifting it (and me) off the ground with the painting acting like a sail! The strong sunlight is bouncing off my two tin plate palettes which is a pity because they are works of art in their own right with all that brightly coloured acrylic paint. Finally you might just notice the glazed door to my studio top right. I put that door in especially so I could look out on cold winter days and dream of painting outside in the summer. And here I am doing it!


Melinda said...

Thanks for sharing your process on this. I think mixing media is a very productive way of encouraging the creative process. Love seeing your garden and work area. Reminds me that I, too, would love to work outside in the summer...but, here it's usually about 40 degrees celsius! Hope I got that right. There is a hint of Fall in the air and that will influence artwork, yes?

Edgar said...

Great to see your studies, and your progression of thought on this subject. (REALLY love the outcome, and the 2nd version was well worth doing.)

That looks like a great set-up for outdoors, (although it sounds like you need a stone to pin down the easel). Do you do other plein air work? (I know, I know... with a garden full of blooming flowers, who needs to travel?)

daviddrawsandpaints said...

There is nothing I like better, Edgar, than to set off out into the wilds to draw and paint but the weather here in Scotland has been so dreadful (I would have said unpredictable but Scottish weather is usually unpredictable!) I have been unable to get up these mornings and plan a day's painting en plein air. I have just had to make do with the short periods of dry and get out into the garden. I usually look out from the window as different plants come into flower and think at the first opportunity I must paint them.
And Melinda: there is also an autumnal air here too as the spent flowers develop into berries of all sorts and leaves start turning yellow. 40deg is blistering hot and instead of painting you should only be lying around in the shade drinking cool pina coladas! Probably what summers are for?
Thanks to you both for your comments, interest and appreciation.

Brian McGurgan said...

I agree with the comments from Melinda and Edgar, David - it's great to see this progression and I especially like where you've arrived at with "Crocosmia Again" - very, very nice. I love those purples among the green and blue-green leaves...

Also a pleasure to see your garden painting setup. Did Leo take the day off or is he inside prepping the house for the contractor?

daviddrawsandpaints said...

If by "prepping" you mean lying up-side down on the best chair in the house with his feet up in the air twitching as he chases mice in his dreams then the answer is definitely yes!
You know me so well by now, Brian - purples (yellows and reds) are my life-blood! I should perhaps learn some restraint?

Lor Lor said...

I too, love drawing and painting in the garden during the summer months. However we have had such a wet and misily summer this year that I've hardly done anything. Its great to see your set up. I love the looseness of the crocosmia paintings. And yes, Leo has has the right idea!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

I was a bit worried for you Lor Lor. From recent television reports I thought you were all getting washed away. Nice to hear you're OK and glad you like my flooers!