Archive for November, 2012


I am too late to paint the mauve perennial autumn aster in my garden, so I look around and pick a fragile red/yellow weed. My tactic is to underpaint the leaves with a strong dark walnutbrown, and a thin 00-brush. The veins are light, but ……there is no light without dark. I thought that burned umber would do, but for the fine line that doesn’t work.  It seems to be a delicate, fine-lined weed and as such I will try to represent it.weeds november 2012

It the outlines are dry, I can give it it’s first color, without blurring the veins or other details. The stem is sienna, but later it will get some tiny hairs as well, touches of brown and venetian red. Initially the leaves get a lightish yellow ochre, without using too much water. Eventually the leaves will be a venetian red;  and the veins will light up in yellow ochre. It looks a bit elegant, this weed, I think.weeds in progress

In the end I gave the leaves an Indian red color. To highlight the veins of the leaves I lifted some red paint with a half-dry brush. And extra walnut-brown shadows on the lower side of the leaves; where they ‘ lean’ on the paper. For the stem I did use the Venetian red; just a shade of it, and some sienna to emphasize the branching and for the tiny hairs on the stem. The leaves have walnut-brown spots.


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The very last of my perennial blue geranium and the winter violets are my next project.  I planted some blue muscari bulbs underneath the violets, for  next spring. I painted different layers of violet for the right violet/purple color. Violets are secondary colors, made by mixing blue and reds. I have some violets ready made in my box, but I experimented with adding cadmium red for a warmer and french ultramarine for a cooler color. A usefull book I have is: Color Mixing for Artist, by J.Lidzey, J.Mirra, N.Harris and J.Galton (ISBN 978-0-7641-5447-8). The small yellow pot for my brushes is a gallipot from 1935. I found several of them in the cellar of my house.

 It takes some exercise to get the ratio of water right. For the heart of the violet: I mix a vibrant yellowishorange with cadmium- yellow and -red, but it is not as bright as I want. I am not  satisfied about the colors in the photographs that I took of the winter violet; it looks more blue than purple. In reality it is a deep royal purple.

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autumn leavesThis is the first autumn ever that I’ve been painting nature. All the leaves are turning into many beautiful shades of gold, yellow, orange, green and brown.  I went in the garden to gather some fallen autumn leaves which I can paint. It takes several days to make a painting, as I paint wet-on-dry, so colors have to dry before applying another one. What I didn’t think of: the leaves dried out and curled. I went to find some new leaves, and this time I pressed them under some heavy books. It will take a couple of days to dry completely. they’ll curl and dry. P1090412 autumn leavesI have to think this through, but for now I’ll wait till my leaves have dried  enough under the heavy books, and paint them. It is rather hard work to get the browns right. I experimented with mixing browns: Indian red and french ultramarine gives a warm brown. I also mixed  yellow ochre and mauve for the veins in the fig leave. There are a zillion possibilities for color mixing, some warm, some cold. The cool browns are the ones with green,and the warm browns are reddish or yellowish.  Big problem is the water management. A tiny drop of extra water in the color changes the intensity and the colors don’t always react as one would like. Part of this water management is the drying of the painting in between the different sessions. The underlaying color has to be stable, in order to paint another color on top of it. I make highlights now by lifting some paint of with a moist brush.

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