There are amazing things happening now-flowers unfolding everywhere. Tucked in a shady part of the yard, I have masses of wood hyacinths planted before my arrival. Most of them are the blue shades but these guys are the soft lavender and they inspired me to pick up my brush.
At the Letters of Joy, a calligraphy-focused conference, I picked up some new pen nibs and of course had to try them out. I was absolutely delighted with how the above piece turned out. Then the next day I realized I had left out the "a". Ah well. ; ) You can see the shimmer of some of the iridescent paint I used over the india ink letters. I did this in a journal I made, that has flaps on the end of the pages. So this introduces...
The left page.
The whole piece with the flap now open.
I started the whole thing with the intention of just using my watercolors. But then somehow... a little voice said... why don't you add chalk pastel to it? Over fifteen years ago, I had a show of six, 24" x 36" paintings in which I used both watercolor and pastels. I really like the mix of textures that each produces and how they look together.
Chalk pastels, like all art supplies, come in degrees of quality. One usually begins using the harder chalk pastels. These are usually less expensive because they are made with more binder and less pigment. The pigment is what costs the most. Once you have a layer of hard pastel down, you now need to either spray it with a fixative or change to a softer pastel in order to get the paper to be able to hold onto more pastel. I have hard, medium and über soft and yummy pastels (really-that is what they are called! okay, well, not really... : ) ). A few years ago I treated myself to some pastels that are the pastel equivalent of buying a luxury car.
This is just a starter set. They make nearly 400 colors. These pastels are handmade and hand rolled by the family run business in England. They were created by artist, John Hersey, because he was frustrated by the inconsistent textures and limited range of colors available. There is a wonderful video of his wife, Kate Hersey, giving the keynote presentation about the history of their company and photos of how the pastels are made, at the 2011 International Association of Pastel Societies convention in Albuquerque, NM.
I enjoyed exaggerating the scale-with huge flowers and a "small" tree to create the feeling of what it might look like to a butterfly perched on a nearby plant. I used the tree also to create contrast to make the flowers in the foreground come forward, and as a visual "bridge" to unite the two separate groups of flowers. The horizontal branches of the tree also counter the vertical lines of the flowers, and help hold your eye on the page.
I'm not analyzing as I paint. I typically just notice when "something is needed" or "something doesn't feel right yet". Through studying and making art, I continue to learn how to see and develop solutions. I love going to galleries and looking at the ways that artists carefully construct their paintings and how they tell the story.
Have a lovely day!