Finally! Getting to paint in France

And no, the big cardboard O’Keefe-ish flowers don’t really count. They seriously are wall insulation. (I’ll return to Swiss posts shortly.)

First up, I have been slowly working on a gift for the wonderful couple who kept Theo for a weekend and help us out in more ways than I can count. They literally live beautiful, Christ-honoring lives of blessing others. Their wedding anniversary is this month, too. This one took awhile, mostly because we were still homeschooling, and grabbing two uninterrupted hours (a minimum, really) is challenging. Not to mention all the rain this spring; I really prefer painting in good light. It’s hard to be sure of my colors in gloom. So here it is, before I added their names to the bottom left:

A gift of love. :-)

A gift of love. 🙂

The rose in my photo was positively luminous, and I had hoped to capture that quality, but no success this time. I will have to play with it again and try another idea or two I’ve had. However, the rose did have that velvety look of a romantic rose, so it actually worked pretty well for an anniversary present. And while this adorable couple still love each other quite obviously, they both love the Lover of their Souls far more, and He will truly make their love as unfailing as His!

One of the things I have longed to incorporate into my painting (an ongoing theme, in fact, if you have read old art-lady posts) is more energy and looseness. Less depiction and more Life! Unfortunately, this would seem to go right against my nature, as most of my paintings come out looking restrained, if not overworked, however I may try. So this summer, I really want to mess around and see if I can’t loosen up! Ironically, I began with another study from a book, on an uninspiring subject–radishes.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these, all long and rooty.

The goal was to not get too worried about actually capturing the veg as to capture color and texture, and use the gel medium. To be honest, I felt like radishes didn’t lend themselves too well to this exercise. So, with all these lovely colors mixed, I decided to try for GERANIUMS!

I do think geraniums are energetic. They aren’t so delicate that they cry out for watercolor, but they aren’t too complicated, like roses, either. The leaves have great texture, and the colors are vibrant. I was going to go out and buy a perfect painting subject at the jardinerie, but although a month ago they were everywhere, I am guessing geraniums are reaching the end of prime season, because there were not many out there. And what there was, was just sad. Two pitiful-blooms-and-some-buds sad. My thinking was, if it turns out nicely, I’ll give the plant and the painting to my geranium-loving French neighbor! Oh well. I bet I could have found one in Switzerland! So….a photo instead.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

The radishes did not work as a finished painting, but I learned a few things. While this painting certainly has its flaws, I think it is the first I have ever done with a loose impasto technique that actually works. The terra cotta is actually done as a watercolor wash, and frankly, parts of it bug me, but hopefully I’m one of the few who will notice. The effect of letting the otherwise heavy pot impart a sense of texture rather than building up true texture allows it to recede beneath the plant visually and in importance. I really tried to discipline myself to use brush direction to suggest the leaves rather than actually painting out leaves, and mostly I think that worked. There are a couple of dead spots, but I feared overworking yet another painting. I am mostly happy with my fluffy geraniums as well. I think the composition turned out ok, although I wonder if I overdid the red in it just a tad. With red, less is often more.

But, voila! I have finally gotten to play in my paint. There are holidays here where you stay at a B&B and use an in-house studio’s supplies and instructor along with other like-minded people, and I want to go SO BAD! Someday….

I have another try at geraniums on a  French window I want to tackle, and maybe Lake Brienz in Switzerland. I still have plenty of canvasses and canvas board to play with!

(A clarification: it doesn’t take me two hours to do a painting; I just need two hours to do any step or layer. Most paintings are at least 6-8 hours, thanks to fast-drying acrylic.)

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3 Comments

Filed under Art, France

3 responses to “Finally! Getting to paint in France

  1. Sherry

    I LOVE the geraniums! I love that you are an artist that shares your progress. And your purpose for the rose is exactly why I’m trying to paint again. I would so hang the Love Rose – it’s absolutely beautiful.

  2. Pingback: The Importance of Play | Pamela UnPlugged: the Art of Life

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