Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Big Brother Lily and Swallowtail - mission completed!

I did it! Three commisioned paintings are now ready for an exhibition. We (me and the organizer) agreed that I would paint three paintings but if I would be able to paint more - that's great. I don't know if I paint more, because busy time is coming but I managed to paint these three - this is the most important. I'm so happy, satisfied and excited! :)

Today I finished the butterfly. I can tell you one thing: if you would like to practice your patience and color mixing - paint a butterfly. These little beautiful insects are just like one big jigsaw puzzle. Lots of details are the best lesson for our patience. What's more, you can also practice a lot your mixing skills, because colors on wings are truly amazing. 

I started with a layer of Naples Yellow Deep. I use Winsor&Newton's because it has only one pigment PBr24. 

My other browns were: Burnt Umber PBr7, Burnt Sienna PR101 and Gold Ochre PY42. I also had Ultramarine Blue PB29 for neutralizing some of those browns.

My black was the same as I used for the caterpillar: Perylene Green PBk31 + Pyrrol Crimson PR264. 

In lower parts I used Ultramarine Blue PB29 + Cobalt Blue PB28 for those beautiful blue spots. And the red dot over there is painted with Cadmium Scarlet PR108 which finally came handy (I used it for the first time!). The abdomen was tricky and there is a whole rainbow. But the main colors were Naples Yellow Deep PBr24 and Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50.

Funny thing was (actually not funny at all) that at the beginning I painted only three legs and I thought it was over. I took photos and happily started to paint this post. Then I realised that I had missed three more legs. So I added them later.

And here it is. The Big Brother Lily and Swallowtail.

These are my three paintings for the exhibition:

Friday, 8 January 2016

It's time for a caterpillar

It's the penultimate stage of this painting. I finished the leaves today and I couldn't wait to start a caterpillar. I painted it and only a butterfly left. 
Now sorry for this long off-topic. When I wrote "I painted it" - I stopped and thought "Hmm. I wrote "it", because what they had taught my on English lessons was that when we talk about animals we use "it" rather than "he" or "she". Contrarily, in Polish we always use pronouns according to gender, so I would say "I painted her [caterpillar]". I googled this issue to make sure that "it" would be correct and I found something funny. Someone asked on a forum: "When we talk about animals, do we say "He/She" or It (because it's not a human-being) ?". The first answer was the same what I was taught: "Normally "it". If you are particularly attached to your cat and think of it as a quasi family member, and it's a male cat, you can call it "he"". And the second one was funny:"In the UK we are very pedantic about giving our pets the correct gender when speaking of, or writing about, them. If I meet a person walking a dog and stop to say 'Hello', it is a must to ask the owner whether the dog is male or female. Then you can say, "Isn't he/she beautiful!" and proceed to pet the dog and say, "What a beautiful girl you are," or "Aren't you a handsome boy?"If someone sees a dog and mistakenly says, "Isn't he handsome?", the owner will quickly tell you, "She's a girl!". We're funny that way...".
A good lesson for me! :) All in all, this caterpillar is not my pet and I don't have any emotional bond with it, so I'll be calling it "it" :)
Let's back to the painting. So the caterpillar looks like this. But I took some work in progress photos so you can see how I was painting it.

Oh, firstly the leaves before and after adding the main stem. Leaves are crucial in botanical painting, I know that and I also know that I have to work on them much more. I love green color, I love to use it, but I've always afraid of leaves. Maybe this is because a lot of people say that they are the most difficult to paint and I subconsciously avoid painting them. But now I know that not only I have to practice them but also I have to include leaves in every painting. It's true what I've read in books, that a painting without leaves is somehow not completed. 

Here I started my caterpillar. I did some quick swatches, not shown, to find the correct color for it. Eventually I ended up with Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 as a first wash. Very diluted wash. I don't use this color much, because I haven't noticed much of it in plants but I have noticed that it can be very useful for butterflies and caterpillars. Some of these animals usually have some extraordinary colors. Moreover, I have to make some more swatches because some mixes of this color with yellows make possibly handy greens.

On that first wash I applied very bright green. It's a mix of Hansa Yellow Deep and Permanent Sap Green. And again, I stopped using Sap Green some time ago but here I found it handy. Another reason why it's good to have many colors somewhere, not necessarily on the palette (or maybe it's just my excuse for being a color junkie. I'll burn in Hell, I know Shevaun :)).

Another layer to deepen the colors and add some details.

Now the fun part. I love this part when everything else is ready and you can add those little details to unify everything. I used my tested and trusted black - mix of Perylene Green PBk31 + Pyrrol Crimson PR264. I took a number 0 brush and started from the left side.

After applying all of these marvellous black spots I did some adjustments with the shadows and greens and it's ready.

I know that this caterpillar is bigger than it should be. But I did it on purpose. Because this is also a commisioned painting which has to refer somehow to Maria Sibylla Merian's artworks, I did what she was also doing with her paintings. The proportions of butterflies, moths or caterpillars in her paintings are changed. It can be clearly seen especially in her book "Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam" which is my main reference book for this project. You can find a digital version here.

So this is how it looks now. Almost done. Only the butterfly sitting on the upper right lily bud and I'll be celebrating a happy, I hope, ending. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The leaves are showing off + videos

It has been snowing all day long today. In this weather, there's nothing better than painting. I came back to my lilies and decided to finish the flowers at least and maybe start the leaves. And I did it. The flowers are finished, the leaves are half-way through. Now I'm at this stage:

I started with the third fully open flower, which I hadn't finished earlier.

Then I added one more open flower in the back and one more bud. At this stage I felt relief that my flowers were finished and only leaves, caterpillar and butterfly left. 

I had the time so I decided to start the leaves. I applied first washes trying to paint them alternately. These leaves have a sheen on them. I decided to use diluted Ultramarine Blue for that and I think it works. I also have two puddles of green mixes. The first one is more light and warm, made of Ultramarine Blue and Hansa Yellow Medium. The second one is darker and cooler, I made it with Phthalo Blue, Hansa Yellow Medium and a bit of Indanthrene Blue. I noticed that the points of these leaves are warmer, while the closer the stem, the coller and darker they are.

When I finished the first wash I started again adding more details and deepening the colors. I haven't finished them yet but I'm pretty sure I'll finish them tomorrow. The next stage will be the caterpillar and finally at the end I'll paint the butterfly. Hope to have finished this painting by Sunday.

Finally one more thing. With reference to my latest blogpost I was asked: "You use a very detailed drawing but the pencil lines don't seem to show....could you please explain how that happens." I decided to make a short video showing how I remove pencil lines. Here's the video:

I also made a video tutorial, this time with lily buds. It's finished but I haven't published it yet because I want to use very beautiful music I have found lately. I asked the author for permission and I'm still waiting for the answer. If he doesn't reply untill Sunday I'll use some other music and publish the video. But I would really love to use this particular music so I'm still waiting. Meanwhile, here's a short preview:

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Big Brother lily welcomes New Year + Giveaway

After the holiday break I've come back today to my Big Brother lily. I should have finished it by the end of 2015 (at least I wanted to do so), but around-Chrismas-things were more absorbing than I expected. All in all I haven't finished my lily yet. I went to my hometown for Chrismas with my sketchbook but there was not much time for painting (although I did three sketches).
Santa was very generous this year. Beside Billy Showell's "Watercolour fruit & vegetable portraits" I was given also "Botanical Illustration Course: With the Eden Project" by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan and "The Natural World in Watercolour" by Jean-Claude Chaillou. Have I metioned that I love books? By the way, on my YouTube channel I've been uploading some quick-flick throughs watercolor books which I have, you can find them on my playlist Watercolor Books - Quick Flick Throughs. Moreover, I have a giveaway time now on my YouTube. The winner will get my original watercolor with yellow lily and to 10 other people I will send a card with a wolf (reproduction of my wolf painting). You can find my giveaway video here.

I welcomed New Year with coming back to my Big Brother lily. I finally started to paint the flowers. I was examining my photos of the lilies for quite a long in order to find out which colors to use. Finally I came to a conclusion that these lilies have creamy color on the outer side of the petals, but inside the petals are lemon yellow mostly, but there are very warm touches too. I knew that I would have to use some diluted Lemon Yellow, and I used it, but eventually I also added lots of Hansa Yellow Deep and even Quinacridone Gold, also diluted. Creamy color I got from diluting Lemon Yellow and mixing with Permanent Rose and a touch of Ultramarine Blue. In some parts I also used grey (Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Sienna). Now I'm on this stage:


I wanted to take several photos from the process. I took the first one and... I forgot to take more... So I have only one photo from the first wash and some close-ups.

And here are some sketches I did in my hometown. You can see some Mary Ann Scott's and Billy Showell's influence. Happy New Year! :)