Monday, 13 October 2008

Autumn Roses

For the last few weeks I've concentrated on drawing in my sketchbook.

But today I decided to set up a still-life in the studio.

It was a real treat choosing, picking and arranging a collection of autumn roses.

Before anyone accuses me of chocolate-box tendencies let's look at some of the complexities and challenges that such a subject presents.

The first of these challenges is capturing the astonishingly rich and deep colours of the blooms - in this case reds, pinks and oranges.

Despite the fact that I invest in very good quality paints, even these will not match the luminosity and resonance of nature's petals without some effort on the palette.

And when I arrive at a colour with which I am happy, I still have to make some bold and difficult decisions about how the colours work in relation to each other. Just imitating the colour is never enough - you have to go further.

Here it is important to remember that I'm painting real, living flowers - under real, shifting, daylight... not working from a static, frozen, unchanging photograph.

By no means are these roses still. Throughout the day they change, slowly, subtly, but certainly. Blooms open, stems droop, the sun moves across the room. And when I return to the studio tomorrow to continue the painting, they will have changed yet more.

My main challenge tomorrow is to retain the freshness and immediacy of the paint I've already applied. This can be difficult when you begin to really labour on particular parts of the painting. And then I've got to know when to stop!

The photographs above show the painting more-or-less as I started it, along with the progress I had made by the end of the day.

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