Printed flower shapes ready to be collaged plus a test for grasses
From time to time, I share with you photographs from our garden and allotment. They feel like a little piece of heaven when the evening light streams through the foliage and flowers in the summer. I've been turning over in my mind, how I can make art that captures these precious moments of pure joy.
Flowers are complex and a garden in full bloom has a dizzying aray of colours, textures and forms. So I asked myself, how can I create a balanced, simplified composition? If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that I've often used seed heads as a motif in my art. But now I want to put flowers in the context of a garden scene with layers that you can look through and beyond.
Full size sketches for the two flower garden compositions.
After studying the compositions of great garden photographers like Clive Nichols, I've drawn up two imagined garden scenes with the flowers in the foreground and trees beyond. These will be large ambitious pieces that will take some time to complete so please keep following to see their progress and to be notified when they're done.
The foreground flowers will be collaged at the end but I've made them first so I can see what colour values I'm working towards i.e. making the background suitable both as a contrast and as a setting for them. These are the images at the top.
Below is a video of me printing the second layer of the Rudbeckias. These are among my favourite summer flowers as they are flamboyant and some varieties have exciting bi-colours. By interpreting this with two layers of ink, I get the sense of the colour combinations whilst being expressive with the mark-making. It's not my aim to do a realistic portrayal. There are plenty of other artists who will do that well.
So far I've done a couple of pale layers of the background - not enough to be worth showing you but I've got over the "white fright" of getting started! In my next blog post, I'll update you on their progress.
Alongside working on the garden pieces, I've been having a bit of fun with paint. Yes, you read that right! After 25 years as a specialist in printmaking (monotype and etching), I've picked up a paintbrush again! After attending a mixed media course at The Lund last year, ideas for using paint and collage have been rolling around in my head.
Test pieces using acrylic ink, acylic paint, collage and pencil crayons
I don't actually have many paints so I splashed out on a small selection of acrylic inks, gouache, watercolours and acrylic paints and I've begun a series of experiments to understand how I can use them. As a printmaker, I approach paint in a different way, wanting to understand process and how to achieve rich colours, interesting textures and crisp silhouettes.
My aim is not to reproduce the unique style of my monotypes but to find a way to portray my subject matter that's new and exciting. I've surprised myself with how much I've enjoyed researching and experimenting! When you make a living from your art as I do, there isn't always time to just have fun and play. But that's exactly what I've been doing recently!
Many people ask me what paper, inks and methods I use in my monotypes. If you're a creative person reading this, I encourage you to experiment with print as I have been doing with paint! There's no substitute for experience and seeing what works for you. My preferred paper might not be yours. Why not buy a sample pack of papers and try them all? You'll soon see the differences and be able to exploit them for your own artistic practice. Likewise with inks, paints and brushes Try, play, experiment, fail, fail better next time. Keep going until you have honed your skills. There's no shortcut. Other artists and tutors can inspire you but you need determination, commitment and experience to succeed! You'll also have a lot of fun along the way!
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The monotypes below are now listed in my website shop and are available to purchase. Click on the images to see size, pricing details and framing options.
NEW Carved in Stone - original monotype available. Inspired by the Peak District - click image for details