If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…
Much happier with the feel of this one so far – I took my time and have kept my touch lighter but more controlled, and already the flower looks altogether more delicate and three-dimensional than in my previous attempt.
Letting it dry thoroughly now before adding any detail, but I think I’ll probably keep it reasonably minimalist all the way through… 🙂
I think I got so excited at the idea of actually putting paint to paper again the other day I pretty much just took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind and plunged straight in at the deep end without really thinking through what I was doing. I suppose it was a necessary leap of faith for me to prove to myself I could still do it, and it was definitely a success in the sense that I didn’t drown, even if things didn’t all go swimmingly on my first attempt. It’s fair to say that the painted flower representation I ended up with was not at all the image I had envisaged emerging from the paper.
But nevertheless I learned a lot – or perhaps I should say remembered a lot – from completing that one little trial-and-error flower painting. I had forgotten how unforgiving watercolour paint can be if you don’t use it correctly. How important it is to get the particular balance of water and pigment just right for whatever specific technique you are using at any given point, and just how crucial your timing has to be when blending your paint. You either have to work each small section immediately before it starts to dry, or let it dry out completely before adding another layer on top .
I can see in my first little flower painting I was way too enthusiastic with the initial amount of pigment I used, and way too impatient to wait for what I had already put on the paper to dry thoroughly before adding even more paint. My unintentionally heavy-handed and rushed approach meant that what I ended up with was far too solid-looking, with flat muddy colours and absolutely no luminosity whatsoever. So while I’m pleased with it in the sense that I actually painted something after all these years, at the same time I feel frustrated and disappointed at how many basic mistakes I made.
So today I’m going back to basics and starting again with the same flower shape and the same brush on the same size paper, but this time I’m going to apply far less paint and far more patience, and see just how much I can improve on my initial attempt.
Watch this space for watercolour dog-rose take two…! 🙂
This week’s photo challenge prompt from the guys at the Daily Post is ‘Ooh, Shiny!‘ and relates to those diversions, distractions and delightful detours that capture our attention and never fail to sidetrack us from whatever we’re doing…
For me, there’s no rhyme nor reason to what catches my eye when I’m out and about. Take today, for example. My husband and I had an appointment in central London this afternoon, so decided to make a day of it and spend the whole day out together.
Diversion No 1 stopped me in my tracks before I even got out of Oxford Circus Underground station – as we stepped off the train I found this lovely rainbow roundel on the platform, celebrating London Pride this summer, so of course had to wait for the busy platform to clear of passengers before I could take my shot…
Distraction No 2 arrived on Eastcastle Street in the form of a line of different coloured but otherwise identical bicycles for sale displayed on the pavement. I don’t really know why they caught my eye, but I just had to stop and capture them for posterity…
Delightful detour No 3 appeared in the form of a blue curved sofa in the orange-walled rest-room of the pub where we had lunch. I was expecting the usual cramped space with a few functional cubicles, basic handwashing sinks and a wall mirror or two. What I found was a huge room with spacious cubicles, a large central sink, a statue and a couple of communal sofas – of course I had to take a few pics before returning to our table…
So although most of my ‘Ooh, shiny’ moments are made up of a series of ordinary everyday things that most people walk straight past without seeing, I always really enjoy them when they find me and seem to silently shout out my name 🙂
I took this shot late this afternoon in Chancery Lane Underground Station, here in London – we were right at the end of the busy East-bound Central Line platform waiting for our train to arrive, and I realised I could see quite far in to the usually dark tunnel.
So I grabbed my camera and took a couple of quick shots of our train coming in along the tracks, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this image is reasonably in focus and not actually too grainy, considering the ISO was set at 1600!
Daily Prompt: Grainy
I wanted to try to think of something a bit different for this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Beginning ‘Ap’ so I decided this image looking up through the glass covered metal framed multi-storey office block of 33 Holborn in London – with a stretch of the imagination and a touch of artistic license – represents ‘Applied Structural Engineering’ 🙂
Hmmm… I know so far I’ve only done one simple flower colour study so it’s very early days, but I’ve been reflecting ever since on how it felt this afternoon to be painting again after all these years. Physically I absolutely loved the feel of the brush in my hand, the steady flow of the paint, and the diluting wash of the water, however clumsy and awkward my technique may have been to begin with. I know that technically, patience and practice and perseverance (as with everything else in life) will help me improve in time.
But emotionally I can sense I’m still too tied up in how I feel something ‘should’ look when put to paper, as if the only criteria that mattered for judgement was to reproduce a near-photographic representation of my subject matter for scathing critique under extreme scrutiny. As if true-to-life matters more than true-to-me. Of course, if the purpose of my painting was indeed to achieve that level of accuracy (for example if I were painting someone’s portrait for them) I suppose then it really would matter?
But I think I simply want my subject matter to provide the baby-steps beginnings of my own creativity, be a spring-board point of inspiration that I can choose to interpret in my own way, letting my imagination decide what to do and where to run with it. After all I’m not 17 any more, I don’t have a set syllabus or class curriculum to follow, or for that matter a teacher or parent to please. Rather, I have the absolute freedom to please myself. I can be as abstract and off-beat and making-it-up-as-I-go-along as I want.
So why do I struggle so much with recognising and accepting that artistically creative adult reality? Maybe the question I need to be asking myself is – who am I actually painting for? Because maybe that’s partly what has been blocking me for all these years, maybe at heart I’m still that insecure little girl always yearning for approval from others, trying desperately to feel good enough but all the while knowing I will never be enough for some people no matter what I do… 🙂
As I’ve already drawn (and coloured in) a couple of single flower heads recently, I thought I might try the same approach for my first water colour painting in three and a half decades.
So I chose a relatively uncomplicated image of a dog-rose from my photographic archive, sketched a simple basic outline in pencil, and tentatively began to paint… and I did it! I’ve painted a flower!
Predictably, it was both a better and worse experience than I expected. I decided to paint wet on dry, because although wet paint on wet paper gives a beautifully transparent and minimalist ethereal feel, it’s also far less controllable and I figured I’d need all the control I can get until I’m more confident with what I’m doing.
But I’d forgotten just how quickly watercolour paint evaporates on a dry page – if you don’t have the paper wet enough to start with, it’s really hard to blend your colours together afterwards when you want them to, and you can end up with too many hard rather than soft edges.
Oh well, never mind – I’ll remember for next time! Anyway, once I’d started I just kept going as best I could, and although my brush handled really nicely and smoothly I felt more of a bulky bull in a china shop crashing around bewildered rather than the lithe ballerina dancing delicately across the paper of my artistic dreams.
After a while I found myself getting a bit frustrated with my unintentional heavy-handedness and ended up overworking it all a bit too much, which is disappointing – I think I prefer how it looked at the half-way mark. Still, overall I’ve enjoyed the experience, and I know my finished flower isn’t great texturally but at least it does actually look like a flower. Onwards and upwards! 🙂