When someone asks you to paint a picture featuring roses in August, you just pick or buy some, or take photos like this one:
But what do you do when you want to paint tulips in August?
I take photos of all the plants and flowers that come my way, so I ploughed through hundreds of tulips before hitting on an idea for a semi-abstract concept. The tulips are for the most part recognizable, but the size relationships and colours are not slavish copies of photos. This is the first sketch (which was in truth rather like the photo):
|tulip sketch pastels over acrylics (50x70cm)|
This snapshot does not do the painting justice, however, and I have worked on it since (and will replace this photo). I find the medium of pastels on acrylics on canvas wonderful. The acrylics seal the canvas and make a coloured 'undergrowth' and pastels are a glorious medium to work in - fast if a bit dusty (I sneeze a lot) and just as effective as other mediums, but unfortunately delicate. I work on an easel, so all the dust falls downwards and I try to get rid of it with a wet cloth (on the easel shelf) after tapping the canvas, rather than brushing and raising even more dust.
I need a canvas in a slightly larger size, so I'm going to get one today and start again, using the ideas from the sketches to create what I hope will be a cheerful spot of colour on someone's wall (the painting is a commission).
The person wanting the painting actually wanted a more monochrome effect, so I did a sketch in her requested colours, too:
|Tulip sketch 50x60cm pastels over acrylics|
Technically, this second sketch is better use of pastels, but that's not why I used that medium (I was in a hurry) and she preferred the colourful one. I think I would too, because the myriad of colours make it more adaptable to hang. But I hope to develop a few more ideas before we meet to make a final choice. To remind me of tulips and their timeless beauty, here are some. I might use different types of tulips in one painting. These photos are not themselves compositions:
origin unknown - thanks to whoever took the photo
(I could use the tulip model but would replace the daffs with diffuse tulips)
on a window-sill
(struck by the lighting here)
a different window-sill
(Someone once told me she liked tulips best when they were dying. In fact, tulip blooms
are a waste product if you are cultivating bulbs commercially!)