Almost Spring.

Tulips 4, Mar. 7, 2018, watercolour pens

I got one last painting in before the tulips were done. At first I was not as pleased with it because I did not match the colours quite right–the tulips were starting to fade and I still painted them in vibrant yellow and red. I was planning to do another painting the next day to try to capture the fading colours, but the next morning I just touched the table and all the petals dropped off the flowers. So that was that.

I am already missing having tulips on the table. Only a few days until the first day of spring and everything is still covered in snow here. I am busy dreaming and planning my garden, but it isn’t quite enough and I am itching for some real flowers. I think I need to buy some more tulips, even if I don’t paint them.

Flowers All the Time.

Poppy bought me tulips last week and I have been painting them everyday. I am still using the watercolour pens and have had a lot of fun experimenting with them. This time I did full sketches with the pens first, blocking in all the colours, and then went back in with a brush and water. The sketches look just like sharpie sketches so it feels like a natural next step from what I was doing with sharpies.

It actually reminded me of those “just add water” colouring books that I did as a child where the pigment was dotted on the picture and adding water turned them into watercolours. So much fun! I loved those books.

Here is the watercolour pen sketches pre-water, taken in not such great lighting but oh well, the sketches no longer exist so this is all I have.

Watercolour Wednesday — Bedraggled tulips in the studio.

After finishing the acrylic painting I did of these tulips (see the previous post here), they were still going strong so I decided to take them to the downtown studio on Sunday. However, the very warm day and very warm drive over to the studio proved to be a bit too much for them. By the time I got there the tulips looked ready to fall apart, but I decided to paint them anyway since they had very beautiful form in their bedraggled state. The funny thing is that now that they are back home they are once again standing up, and the dark orange veins that had appeared have lightened back to yellow. Fascinating.

Remind me not to wear the “Jackie O skirt” again for at least a week.

Ah, the first still-life of the year with flowers from my own garden. And new dark blue drapery to boot! Life is good.

I don’t think I have anything else to say. Maybe I’ll just leave you with this soothing blue still-life to look at. I’m still in crazy project mode and so far today I have made bread and lemon sherbet, done the dishes and the laundry, and finished a painting. I wanted to paint some of the house trim and mow the lawn but I’m tired and I have to start supper soon. Though honestly today I think it’s my skirt. I’m doing this thing that some friends started where you wear a skirt or dress every day in June. My skirt for today is a tweed pencil skirt and I seem to be channeling a whole lotta 1954 house-wife. It’s exhausting.

“Remember, Highlander: live, grow stronger, fight another day.”

HaHA—TWO paintings out of $3.99 tulips—take THAT never-ending winter!

I now have a diptych: one painting with the closed tulips and one with the upright, open tulips in their full colour. I wasn’t sure that they would work together since I had chosen to keep the drapery the same and at first they did look a little too similar. The other afternoon when I went into the studio I only had 2 of the 3 lights shining on the still life which changed all the shadows in the drapery and vase and made it all just a touch darker. I adjusted the painting and that seems to be what it needed. They are an interesting tonal and colour study now with the drapery and tulips being different in each painting (and super hard to photograph).

I briefly considered making it a triptych with a painting of the dying flowers, and I may still do that with the next still life, but I don’t have another 24″ x 32″ board and the smell of oil paint is starting to get to me. So as my husband would say, “Another day, Highlander” (which I discovered today is not the actual movie quote).

I did do a diptych with dying tulips way back in 2003, while I was in university. My photos of them aren’t very good so I will have to remember to re-photograph them the next time I visit my sister (where they are hanging in her stairwell). I was feeling so good about these new tulip paintings and feeling like I was “back” until I looked up the 2003 tulip paintings. The 2003 ones are still better. I am getting better and my technique and colour execution has gotten better, but I’m still not “back”. Argh! It’s a funny thing when you realize that all your university professors were right and that it is indeed very hard to get back into art once you’ve taken a break. Though I have formed the habit of making art again, which is something; when I don’t paint for three days it feels like it’s been weeks.

I think for now I need to air out my studio and get out of the house. My studio is very full with oil paintings drying…

Hmmm. I’ve just been comparing these two diptychs and thinking about where I was emotionally when I painted them. The 2003 ones were done just after I moved into an apartment with my fiancée. My mom was coming to visit and I bought the tulips to dress the place up. I felt, however accurate or inaccurate my interpretation may have been, that she was not pleased that I had moved in with him before we were married. I left the tulips alone for a week afterwards and just watched them die. Whereas right now I am just getting back into making art and feeling like it is a re-awakening for me. In that sense maybe the new paintings are completely appropriate as they are.

That’s it; I’ve had it. I’m buying the $3.99 tulips from Sobeys.

I’ve managed to stay fairly optimistic about this never-ending winter in Calgary… until now. The April 14th snowstorm was the last straw and today I woke up to more snow. I am now wondering if the tulips in my garden are going to survive this. Last year they were partway up on March 29th, and I’ve been waiting and waiting to paint them.

Yesterday I broke down and bought some tulips, and at 10:30 last night I decided to set up a still life. I was looking at my still life and thinking that I may not get to paint it until Tuesday since we are having company tonight and I work tomorrow. Then I thought, “it’s perfect right now, just paint it now.” I worked until 2 am (that’s when I took the photo at left). It was fantastic! The painting wasn’t quite finished, but there wasn’t much left to do today: mostly detail in the leaves, flowers and vase.

Here is the finished painting, which is now my favourite still life painting EVER! That is, until I do my next painting.

I see now why I did not get into the shows I applied to—it was a bit premature before, but I’m still glad I applied. Now I can get on with making a good body of work and apply again.