27th June 2006
This is the second of the series of ten flower paintings.
This flower gave me a lot of trouble. Try as I might, I couldn’t mix a magenta intense enough to match the colour of the flower with my usual primaries and white palette. All my attempts with alizarin and ultramarine came out far too dull, and in the end I crumbled and ran down to my local art shop to get some magenta paint, hoping that a pure tube colour would be intense enough to match it. Thankfully, it was. The pigment is quinacridone, and almost exactly matched the colour of the petals of the orchid. Phew.
I have a feeling that as I progress through my series of flower paintings, I’m going to come up against the limitations of my primaries-only palette more frequently. I’m quite happy about that though, because it means I add colours as and when I need them, which I think is far preferable to starting out with a palette covered in every available colour. The point of using the limited palette has always been to teach me how to mix colour, how to match the colours I see in nature as closely as I can, and it’s served it’s purpose. The point about having self-imposed rules is to take a more rigorous approach and thus learn more, but you also need to know when to break them, I think.
I have a further confession to make: I cropped this picture. There was originally more of it below and to the right, but I wasn’t at all happy with the way the bowl in which the orchid is planted, and the wooden planks on which the bowl was sitting, were painted. As a whole the painting didn’t work.
After I’d taken the shot for the site, I was editing it in photoshop and it struck me that the flower part and the background actually worked quite nicely. Five minutes with the crop tool and this happened. Because I like it so much more like this, I’m going to saw off the parts of the panel I don’t like and keep the painting as I’ve cropped it here. I remember reading somewhere that the impressionists used to do that with their paintings quite a bit, partly because of the influence of photography.
Playing with the cropping like this has opened up something of a can of worms regarding the composition of my paintings, something I intend to explore a little further as I work through the rest of this series. For the next paintings I’ll be doing it before I start painting, using my little framer. I must admit I have no idea what’s going to happen to this painting when I take the saw to it. I may ruin it completely.
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