Sunflower Workshop

I could hardly wait for today. I had signed up to attend a Sunflower workshop at a local artists home. There were probably about 20 ladies who attended. We arrived around 9:00 with carloads of art supplies in anticipation of creating masterpieces…ok, maybe not masterpieces, but one can hope, right? As Julia and I decided where to set up, many of the ladies were cutting sunflowers and zinneas to use in still lifes, using old chairs, watering cans and vintage fabric from Joan’s garage. By the time we were set up, many of the most gorgeous sunflowers were already cut down. Julia and I wanted to draw them in the field (garden actually) which proved to be the best idea, since after lunch many of the still lifes were badly wilted. Anyway, we started right in on our work. I did a thumbnail and wrote about the sunflowers in my journal, took some pictures, and then started with a preliminary drawing on my stretched watercolor paper. It took quite a while for me to get a composition that I thought worked…and even then, after I started painting I added in some more flowers. I used primarily Sap Green, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, & Raw Umber. Other colors I used were a viridian, alizirin crimson, an orange-ish yellow that I can’t remember the name of and a blue-violet color (that I also cannot remember). The background is Cobalt Blue and some cheap purple paint that I have had since college. I enjoyed painting outside, although the sun got incredibly hot and I ended up getting fried on just the right side of my face, neck and arm. Around noon, we stopped and ate lunches that we had brought along and then joined together in watching Joan do an amazing demonstration of Monotype printing. Man, was it beautiful. I could so get in to it. The artwork you see here is a scan of a printed photo of one of her prints which totally does not do it justice, but at least you get the idea. If you have not ever done monotypes, it might be a cool thing for you to try. The materials are not that expensive. She uses water soluble block printing ink which she orders in large tubes from Dick Blick. She had more colors than I thought were even available. She did a preliminary drawing on paper the same size as the plexiglass she was using. She used a big black permanent marker and then turned over the paper and drew the drawing on the back, which is what she used when painting on the plexiglass…since it prints backwards. She then applied paint (ink) with old brushes and palette knives, and then used an orange peeler from Tupperware to scrape lines into the print. She then wet her paper and printed it on White drawing paper from Utrecht. She did a second print on Black Canson drawing paper…without wetting it first…and it was even more amazing than the first. I love that you never know exactly how it will come out. I love the spontaneity of this medium…I have so got to try this. Anyway, after the demo and seeing several of her prints, we headed back to paint. I think it was great to have such a long (and inspiring) break because as soon as I picked up my brush I instinctively dipped it in some red and started adding red to my leaves, which made it so much better. The background was quite challenging because I painted it after the flowers…which you aren’t really supposed to do…especially in such a large, and broken up, area…so I am not real happy with it. I am still working on it. I decided to add ink…I filled my Rapidograph with Sepia ink in anticipation of using it on my watercolor. Yet, when I do ink, it gets so tight…and I don’t want to wreck it… So after the ink, I think I will use colored pencil and maybe darken up the background…make it more like the photo with the periwinkle color sky. One thing that was so hilarious was that whenever someone would wander over to look at our paintings, EVERY person remarked about how gorgeous this one little flower was up in the corner. I painted it that way completely by accident…but it actually ended up looking perfect. I am kind of afraid to ink over it, because I don’t want to ruin it (please forgive the bad scan of it – I still have it stapled to my board). Some of the ladies advised me to cut it in half and create two painting…one with ink and one with out so that I could leave the “beautiful” flower alone. What I’d like to know is what do you think? Should I cut up the painting? Or should I finish it as one composition? And Why? Please offer your advice and opinion…because I am just not sure. Maybe you can help me see something that I don’t. Thanks so much for your input.

Also, here are some more ATCs I made inspired by the sunflowers.

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