"September Spring" is a watercolor painted to extend the summer as it began to slip away. It was painted over a week with patience required in order to achieve the layering of light and dark that you see in the various flowers. One of the most difficult things for many painters, including myself, is to let early iterations dry before proceeding. And to do bits at a time. Below is how the painting first looked when I stepped away to let it dry and to think about how to proceed.
As you can see, first came basic colors and placements of primary flowers, touches here and there and a light dusting of the sky to see what might work well. Inspired by the work of Kate Osborne, I put down colors in a light wash. The paper used was rough grain, 140 lb., 12" x 16". Before touching the brush to the paper for a flower, I wet the section -- starting with the purple flower.
The brushes used were number 10 and number 7 Kolinsky sable. It's important to have artist quality paper and brushes even if you're new to painting. I've mentioned this before, but is bears repeating because poor materials can discourage budding artists -- and irritate established ones as well. Over time, you come to know what works for you. That's' when painting becomes so much more enjoyable.
I work a lot with Holbein paints but also other high grade ones like Old Holland, Sennelier, and Winsor & Newton. Also, experimenting with colors found in shops when traveling or received as gifts can add zest to a painting and fun to the project.
When I returned to the painting at each iteration, I tried to keep in mind the basic painting, adding flowers, leaves, accents, and a sense of movement as if a slight wind was coming from the left. Dark squiggles and blotches of color were added gradually -- experimentally -- with sponge in hand in case they just didn't work. Time between each set of additions allowed the colors to dry. That's when you see what you really have and whether another darker dab or accent (like a bright pink on red) might bring greater life to a flower.
Paintings like this tend to look like fun-filled expressions. And this was fun to paint. But painting is work too and some days you may go too far, lose too much light, crowd the painting. That's a learning process.
If you decide to try a painting like this one, be sure to have lots of clean water, changing it often, to keep the colors bright and pure. Experiment on a separate, scrap piece of paper of the same type you're using for the painting when choosing colors. Start with transparent colors. You might begin by laying down a basic stage like the one above, and then branch out on your own in terms of colors and shapes, perhaps stopping now and then to look at my finished one or ignoring it completely.
Allow your hand to jiggle and wiggle, as often happens if you have Parkinson's. Brace it for delicate additions. This is one of those paintings where a little shaking can be an asset. It's not a photograph; it's an impression. So feel free.
As PD has progressed, I have tried to find ways to go with what my body is doing -- or not doing. That includes cognitively. Most artists have good painting days and days when they should do something else. I find it's best to go with the flow. Every error is a learning experience, every slip-up with watercolor is a chance to learn how to use a sponge.
And every lost cause becomes the scrap paper for future experimentation.
Painting Doc Tip: Sometimes the shapes of flowers emerge merely by tilting the paper around after you've dabbed the first wash onto it -- as mentioned in earlier blogs. Let the color flow a bit. Some may not flow as you like, requiring that you whisk outward with a brush here and there leaving white spots where the sun might reflect. Then, after that has dried, wet a portion of the light flower where you think darker petals might be and dab a bit darker color -- repeat tilting and/or brushwork that appeals to you. Notice in the red flowers that the darker petals aren't realistic but rather impressionistic. Not much in this painting is realistic -- but it nods in that direction enough for us to know we're looking at either wild flowers or ones planted to appear that way. :)
In way of introduction, you'll want to see the "About" page by clicking on that above. In short, this site is sharing ways to paint and maybe we'll get into writing as well sometimes. I'm a professor emerita of business and preventive medicine, author of nonfiction books on politics, negotiation and communication. And, since the early onset of Parkinson's, I've become an artist and a fiction author. Many of the paintings are of West Cork, Ireland where I live. My debut novel, Shadow Campus, is a fast-paced mystery thriller described by Forbes as a "masterful debut." The second crime mystery novel is Damned If She Does (2020) described by Kirkus Reviews as "informed and searing" and "a page-turning success." I hope you'll enjoy this site as it emerges and we paint together whether you have PD or not. I'll do my best to share what I've learned and continue to learn. We'll start with some watercolors and then introduce oils as well. Thanks for coming by. Kathleen Kelley Reardon