Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reflections 1

Returning to experience

I was brisk-walking in West Coast Park with a friend when I came across these three types of flowers on the ground. The purple one was still fresh although its colour was darker than the ones on the tree. The photo was taken the next day and though the colour remained, time took a toil on the petals. It was that deep, rich purple that attracted my attention when first saw it. The yellow oleander shrubs discarded several flowers with closed petals shaped like elongated bells.

Since I was in a flower-gathering mood, I picked one up as well. When we reached the part of the park near the MacDonald's, we saw a smattering of lilac-coloured flowers strewn on the ground having fallen off from the hanging vines of the Thunbergia laurifolia. Presented with so many choices, we selected the best of the offering and I went home with about 5 of these flowers in addition to the yellow oleander and the orchid tree flower.

In the evening, after dinner, I set up my painting stuff and told myself to just put paint on the canvas and not to spend too deliberating on whether I would be able to create a likeness to my flowery subjects. As with painting still life, I had to do a nice and pleasing arrangement of my flowers. Once that was done, I mixed alizarin red with ultramarine blue, loaded the brush with a mixture of the paint and plenty of water and using a big, flat brush, did the wash. Hmm, I was pretty happy with the colour. The first flower I started on was the orchid tree flower and I really had difficulty getting the shades right and when it got too taxing, I started on the Thunbergia by adding titanium white to the mixture I created for the orchid. Added some cadmium red and just played around with various combinations of cadmium yellow, lemon yellow and ultramarine blue. I conciously try to remember not to dwell too long on one flower but to move back and forth between flowers and to add tinges of colours reflected on the petals as they pick up hints of a neighbouring colour.

I think my orchid flower looks rather flat and the only redeeming grace were the stringy stamen and pistils that I painted using the wooden end of the brush as if it were a pencil after I realised that I did not have a fine brush that would hold acrylic paint properly. The new brushes I bought became limp once it was wet, probably they were for water colours. For this maiden effort in painting flowers that are wilting, I like the yellow oleander best and I recall that I was just looking at the flower and painting without trying to analyse what colours would be suitable. It was just painting with the senses of sight and intuition. I think I have done the petals of the Thunbegia reasonably well but I need to get a good brush for the details at the centre which is currently rather messy.

All in all, I was glad that I just got on with my painting. I suppose the knowledge that the flowers were not going to last beyond the next day got me working as fast as I could. By right it should have been completed by midnight. I did not foresee that I would have so much difficulty painting the orchid tree flower. The next day the flower had deteriorated to a stage where it was impossible to continue with my painting of that flower and so I threw it away. I shall just work on that one particular flower next time to get a better understanding of its structure, colours and texture.

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