Since spring refuses to get sprung here in Portland, I’ve had to resort to creating my own springtime with my two latest bits of artwork that are chock full of big blooms and buzzing bees. If I could only get them to have the scent of freshly mown grass, I could almost fool myself that spring really has decided to show herself.
Painting #1: Sunny Bee
Who’s that hanging out on that big red sunflower? Why it’s Sunny Bee! Sunny Bee was based on a reference photo** that I’ve had in my to-paint stash for a long, long time. So long that unfortunately, I no longer have the photographer’s name to give him or her credit.
Sunny Bee started out with good intentions of staying very true to the exact coloration of the sunflower’s streaks of red and orange and warm yellow. I thought I could lay down base layer of yellow, then do a sort of streaky red-orange thing on top so the yellow showed through. Well, so much for thinking.
First, I just couldn’t get the colors to match the photo. Second, despite the fact that my paints usually go on rather thin and translucent, this was the one time they were behaving opaquely. So my streaks just weren’t working. I eventually decided that being exact wasn’t required and used my own mix of colors on each petal.
As they will do, the center of the sunflower was a complex series of spiraling seeds. Sorry, but there was just no way I was going to attempt that amount of detail (going insane was not on my to-do list for the week). Instead, I simply stippled in several different browns, yellows, and even some metallic copper.
Surprisingly, Sunny Bee herself was a snap. Somehow the paint just landed in the right spots and there she was. I wanted to have some fun with the wings, so I used my gel medium to give them some wing-y texture.
I do find the center feels a bit off—, um, well, off-center, almost lopsided, but overall I like how Sunny Bee turned out (even if the photo makes it look a lot darker than the painting actually is).
Painting #2: Coney Bee
This painting came from a photo I took last summer while I was watching my own honeybees buzzing around a patch of coneflowers in my garden. I went a bit snap happy that day, so there may eventually be similar paintings/drawings in the near future.
Taking a lesson from Sunny Bee, I decided not to worry too much over matching my colors exactly to the reference photo and found my own mix of purples and yellows and blues resulted in some pretty snazzy petals. As you can see, the background started out with a blend of greens, but the petal work got a bit messy and I ended up going with a black background.
I honestly had no idea how to approach the center of the flower and it was a bit of a problem-solving exercise. I knew I wasn’t going to go for the exact detail in the photo, but I wanted to give the impression of the fuzzy-spiky look of the cone. I kept layering different yellows and reds and browns in little streaks and voila! A cone for my coneflower.
Like Sunny Bee, Coney Bee fell right into place and I thought “Yay! I’m done!” Then I realized I forgot the poor girl’s wings!
In the end I kept the wings very delicate. I then went over the cone and the edges of the wings with some gel medium to give them just a tad bit of texture.
**A Note on Reference Photos
The website I use for my reference photos (the ones I haven’t taken myself) has put out a notice that using the photos in ANY way is a violation of the photographer’s copyright even on a blog to show what you used as a reference and even if if you credit the photographer as I always have done.
Because of this rule, I can no longer show you the photos I work from and I’ve tried to remove all the “non-mine” reference photos from previous posts. And, because the site requires signing up (password, user name, all that) to view the photos, I can’t even provide a link for you to view the photo. This kind of sucks because I know many of you like seeing the comparison between the original and my result, but I aim to respect copyrights as much as possible.
I’m Outta Here!
I’m leaving for London in a little over 24 hours, so I won’t be blogging again until the second week in May. I will probably throw a few photos onto social media so if you want to follow along with my explorations, be sure to join me there!
As far as the art show reception, well it was a major failure and I am probably going to be spending a lot of the 11 or so hours I’ll be trapped inside airplanes giving a re-think to where my art world is headed. But more on that when I get back. For now, it’s vacation time!!!