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Flower power

The art workshop I attended over the weekend was entitled “Contemporary Flowers in Acrylic Inks” and whereas flowers are not my favourite subject I always put as much artistic interpretation and endeavour into it as any other subject. The tutor was obviously talented but she quickly said that it was only her second workshop and that she couldn’t paint and talk at the same time. So, whilst she was painting, there were great gaping silences whilst the group stood and watched her, and I know that when that happens, people start chattering amongst themselves. Seeing the work she had done and brought along with her to showcase to us, I realised that I wasn’t going to learn a lot, particularly when she wasn’t going to talk much….. so I sidled off to my work bench and noted that my usual *partner in rebelling* followed me two minutes later. She and I happened to be situated next to each other in the room and we grinned to each other as we got on with our own stuff. She and I had both brought loads of source pictures with us but although she started two pictures and worked on them both over the six hour session (whilst waiting for things to dry, although didn’t complete them both fully) I struggled to find anything to greatly inspire me, and I knew that was because I don’t do many flower pictures. But, I wanted to do something I was pleased with and hopefully could put in the exhibition for next week, and realised that I had a beautiful photo of pink alliums that was perfect for me and quickly drew it out on my stretched watercolour paper. I didn’t want to do what the tutor had done – a flat painted wash of dark grey colour for the background – as it was too dark, forbidding, and flat. I wanted my usual poured on paint effect for the far more interesting effect it makes. But what I did want to do was use acrylic INKS (not  acrylic paint, and not watercolour paint) to see what effects I could get with them, and after carefully masking off the flowers and stalks, I thoroughly wetted the paper to let the inks flow over the paper, letting them merge and flood the paper. But, since it was a workshop and my time was limited I hadn’t got the usual length of time I would leave to let the paper dry, and had to carefully lift the inks off after they had settled on the paper in puddles by using the corner of a piece of kitchen roll to soak up the excess water which meant the paper could dry in a super quick 20 minutes instead. Happy with that result, I could then take the dried masking fluid off, and start painting the rest of the picture, still using the acrylic inks which by definition will always look clean and fresh as they are inks, and translucent. The tutor was good at going around the room looking and helping the pupils there, but I didn’t particularly need much input from her and loved her delighted reaction to my poured on background effect. As the day wore on, and I got more and more in the zone of my painting, oblivious to most things but I was aware of various people standing looking at my work, and two women separately came over and said “That looks lovely from the other side of the room!” and I joked that it was alright from 2o feet away, but I needed it to look lovely from where I was standing too, which got grins from them!

I used the stopper from the acrylic ink bottles to get intense pink colour on the alliums where I needed it, making them look like the balls that they are on their stalks. And after I felt I couldn’t do any more with the inks, I started with the waterbased wax crayons that I could wash in where needed with a paint brush, or leave as the drawn effect wiht the crayo marks. And after that I used oil pastels to get more colour on as well where it was needed to create more interest in the picture since although the painting was of the pink alliums, there had to be some which were stronger in tone and colour than the others to give some impetus to the work.

At the end of the day, I had had some excellently positive and upbeat responses to the painting, but when I got home and stood back and looked afresh at it, I could see that it needed some more work doing on it, which I should do this week. So I am not showing it to you until it is completed and I am 100% happy with it. It is currently “work in hand”.

And although I am not turning into a flower painter, I am extremely happy with the result and think it has a powerful design about it as well as good strong colour.

And the other thing I was happy about during the day was with the woman who was sitting infront of me, who wanted to learn more about art and had drawn out a photo of some flowers in a bowl, changing the glass bowl to a ceramic bowl. I looked at her picture and could see that she had drawn it out well, and with accomplishment, but quietly pointed out that some of the stalks as they went into the bowl were too uniform and would look so much better if a couple of them had a slight bend in them, and she nodded in agreement, and made the adjustment later on. When she showed me the picture afterwards she said how much better the picture looked for my suggested changes and said “Its the little things that make the difference isn’t it!” and I agreed wholeheartedly, it is. And glad that I could help her.

Right, back to the flowers…. 🙂