A million reasons to break out the pinks and reds
Paintings are often great teachers. For me, there’s the initial falling in love with a photograph and the subsequent study of the subject, especially the light. Slow, thoughtful drawing on the Arches paper provides time to contemplate how I’m going to approach painting the actual thing. Some images take several days to draw out. By the time I’ve picked up a brush to lay in some initial washes—in this case cerulean (Winsor Newton) for the sky and a lot of gamboge (M. Graham) in the water area—I’m itching to cover the entire sheet with water and paint. Fast. Even if the subject intimidates me—too hard, too complicated—I’m generally confident enough to tackle it or at least give it a try. Yet, there’s always a stage in every painting when it looks perfectly, irretrievably awful.
That’s when the teacher steps in and says move it along, hurry it up. That can mean big brushes, lots of water, standing up to paint, staying off the internet, and having some fun with this. Splash, drip, tilt and let the paint run. Deal with the results.
At some point, if I’ve been resourceful or lucky, the painting pops up out of the paper and the teacher recedes. With this painting of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, this happened about the time I finished up the Viewing Pavilion. I had to hold my breath while painting the six teeny figures within the building, but the reward was getting to flow in vibrant pink blooms behind the dark wood beams. Next came the torii (cadmium red Winsor Newton) and all of the pinks for the big tree branch (permanent rose Winsor Newton, quinacridone red M. Graham, permanent alizarin crimson Holbein). Water reflections, via water and gravity effects, were helped along by a favorite #12 flat brush to create neat streaking effects.
Motivation for framing a pretty scene is always present at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, especially during cherry blossom season. It would be nice if the cherries hung around a little longer to enjoy, but here it is summer and there’s plenty more to gawk at and maybe turn into a painting.
Arches cold press, 300 lb, 21″ x 21″