A couple weeks ago someone asked if I could paint a 4′ X 4′ quilt on a piece of plywood to hang on their barn. Not what I usually do, but I’m always up for a challenge and I figured this would be pretty straightforward. We worked out a deal, and I started on the piece last week.
My first task was to paint the entire board, front and back, several coats of the background color, cream. That’s probably the easiest part of the whole exercise. Kind of like painting a barn. When that looked smooth I begged some help from a true quilter, master fine art quilter, that is, Caryl Fallert, one of my neighbors and a good friend. I needed the use of her overhead projector to get my 5″ X 5″ picture of the quilt to the 4′ X 4′ size I needed. She converted the file to grayscale using some Photoshop magic, and after printing it out on acetate we went to work aligning the image to fit with my panel. A couple hours later I had my outline complete and was ready to start the actual process of painting.
So far, I’ve completed the vine that coils around the border, a meandering undulating cord with loopy leaves and tulips and bud stems. The little isolated yellowish ovals you see are the centers of the roses that make up the middle of the quilt.
You can see more of the vine and tulip detail here:
Stay tuned while I add in rose medallions and fine tune.
We love Mexico during the Fall, especially at the end of October when they begin preparations for Day of the Dead. Offrendas begin to go up around town, commemorating deceased family and friends, and the flower vendors around the jardin, the town center, go into full swing. The vendors who sell dried flowers year-round now have a greater variety and more fresh-cut flowers. They especially like marigolds and cocks’ comb, two of the most traditional for the celebrations.
The flower vendors are one of the first people that you notice as you come into the jardin from the west side. They sit on low stools with buckets and buckets of flowers surrounding them and spend the time making intricate baskets filled with dried flowers. The colors and the tableau they create doing their work is unforgettable.
“I never use cobalt blue.” I owe this post to Bill, who I said that to today as I looked at one of his small watercolors that he does regularly, “Like candy,” he said. The sky in that particular painting was a wonderful soft blue gray that looked like he’d swiped a piece of the real thing. I’d stopped in for a visit at his studio after I took a picture of the pot of geraniums on his front porch. It seemed only right to at least have a word.
Since the subject of the day’s painting came from the Renzullis it made sense to use cobalt blue for the background, Bill as my inspiration. But I wanted the saturated blue that you get with full strength, which is what I used. With the flowers being the main attraction I wanted just color in the background for them to bounce off of. A little sprinkle of sea salt while the blue was drying gave some interesting effect. To keep things consistent, I decided to use the cobalt for the pot as well, adding some burnt sienna to form a warm gray. I did that in several layers, and I’m loving the effect. Actually, the whole painting was really fun and quick, with some surprises along the way, having not used cobalt blue for so long I’d forgotten how wonderfully it combined with the sienna. I can see I’m going to be adding cobalt blue back onto my palate more regularly.
I’m back in town after a quick trip to Chicago to have my CI processors adjusted. Part of the post-op rehab that is part of learning to hear well with your new implant. Things are moving along nicely there, and I’m well pleased.
Today was catch-up because of my two day absence from my studio. Looking through a gazillion emails and answering phone calls. I also did a good bit of work on my second commission that I’ve been planning out for over a month. Finally, I was able to get down to work on the daily painting in late afternoon.
The pumpkins across the street in one of my neighbors’ yards shine brightly at me in a nice tableau as I look out my studio window. Some of the arrangement she’s made is too much for me, but I love the pumpkins next to the squatty ceramic pot. I honed in on what I liked to make a tight composition of the pumpkins and the pot. The boxy shape is a bit of a wooden wagon that’s too cutsie for my tastes. The yellow flowers add a touch of brightness and provide an additional play of color. Rather makes me think of Halloween and autumn.
I tend to look down as I walk through woods or along sidewalks. Not at my feet but at the flowers, leaves that have fallen, and for whatever treasures in the way of bugs or things of interest I might find. Last year while walking to the library I saw the tiniest of acorns scattered at my feet. Neat little caps with miniature buds of acorns. I picked one up and was entranced by their perfection and size, especially since the trees they came from were in the category of mighty oaks. I don’t know the specific species of oak but I kept the souvenir anyway.
Yesterday I made a stroll through Lower Town to get some exercise and see what was about. Two blocks away were brilliant orange berries, part of ornamental bushes at the side of someone’s yard. The perfect Fall color combination of scarlet orange and evergreen for the leaves. I pinched a sprig of leaves and one of berries to bring home for my daily painting. The acorn and its twin cap were still safely stored in my desk drawer from last year. Small things that made my day.
We lingered a long while in the Singapore Bontanic Garden. It’s hot and extremely humid there but I remember enjoying myself there more than a lot of our wanderings in the heat. There were places of shade, and it was such an oasis of wonder.
This image is of heliconias, one of my favorite exotic flowers, that grow hanging down and form pods in a charming symetrical chain. The intertwined large leaves of luscious green superimposed against lily pads from a small pond give them even more mystery.
My last two posts have been about things up on houses and their surrounding walls. Today I’m back on the ground and have been thinking of Singapore. Maybe it’s the dull darkness of today brought on by the rain storms that makes me dream of sun and heat that enveloped us in the island state of Singapore. Specifically, I remember the botanic gardens with its exotic plants, cool ponds, and meandering paths. We spent half a day there relaxing and exclaiming over the strange new plants we saw.
I felt like doing flowers or something from that experience today so I sought out the photos we’d taken. There among them was a fantastically colored close up of lotus flowers and their pads floating on one of the ponds. The water is an unbelievable purplish blue that causes the lily pads to stand out in stark relief. The white lotus is almost electric as a brilliant beacon among the saturated colors. I closed in even further on it from the original photo and to make it more dominant and the composition simpler. The colors are the thing, and I’m happy to remember Singapore that way.
Like yesterday, this is mostly a direct painting without a preliminary drawing. I did put in a few lines to designate the chimney as well as the general location of the flowers. But it was just that, a few lines, nothing to tell me where every petal or leaf was. I find that this approach works best for me when trying to do an array of flowers like this. You want the mind to fill in the blanks, giving the viewer just enough information to get the idea of the flowers you’re painting.
Bougainvilleas grown in wild abandon in San Miguel and all of Mexico for as far as I can tell. They are in great profusion during the rainy season, and I find their brilliance almost unimaginable against the bright blue sky. It truly is azur, no other word for it, and certainly not the kind of blue I ever see in the north. The light that makes these colors possible is indescribable.
The lady finch was one of my first daily paintings, almost a month ago, Our sunflowers continue to bloom and dry out, attracting the pair of gold finches. What a delight! My kitties, Dove and Chaplin, get excited to see them on the flowers so close to their perch inside the studio window. But the window pane keeps everyone on their best behavior. The finches watch the window while they eat just to ensure those humans and cats stay safely inside.
One of the sunflowers rests right at window’s edge. This week its seeds were at just the right stage and so we’ve been blessed with particularly close views of this spectacular mister. Today’s effort is in honor of his visit and the privilege it’s been to have him share my flower garden.
While we were building our casita in Alcocer outside of San Miguel we rented a place that was part of a large house with a fantastic yard and lots of flowers. We felt like lords of the manor, it was so stately in appearance. Roses climbed the property wall, different ones constantly blooming. The ones just inside the main gate were showy red beauties that I kept my eye on to see their latest production. One morning when we’d not been there too long I took a series of photos of the roses to capture how the rain droplets they’d collected shown like jewels on the their petals.
For some reason the red on my screen isn’t quite matching the painting in real life, no matter my attempts to color correct. Reds are tricky and my computer makes this a little dull. But I love all those droplets everywhere, the rose just out of the shower.