Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pansies and the Wolf Spider

Well it has been over a month since I last blogged. I would like to say that it was because I was re-charging my creative self, but it was just plain busyness that kept me away from writing anything more than a quick post on Facebook.

I painted Pansies! because I was looking for a composition that had contrast, specifically areas of darkness contrasting with bright color. I was teaching a watercolor class where the students already had experience with the medium, but many were unsure of how to portray dark areas without resorting to black.

I also wanted to use the random quality of watercolor bloom, to help define the leaves. After lightly sketching the flowers and a few leaves, I wet just the areas where I wanted color to flow. All of the leaves and dark areas were washed with various shades of greens and blues. When the paper had dried slightly, but the paint was still wet, I dropped bits of clean water on random areas to let the watercolor bloom create the effects of dappled light on the leaves. After the leaves had dried somewhat, I added a bit of Payne's Gray to the darker, cooler, green/blue colors that I had mixed before. I used that color to add the shadowed areas around the leaves and punch up the contrast.

The pansies were painted with combinations of cadmium yellow and lemon yellow. I used a dark purple for the markings in the center of the pansies and used a very very dilute (mostly water, very little paint) to add shadows and depth to the flowers.

So are you wondering why I titled this blog Pansies and the Wolf Spider? Don't bother looking for the spider in the painting...this isn't a hidden pictures game.

Here's the story: I bought the flowers which were in one of the "hang it on your house kind of bags" on Mother's Day weekend and hung them on the tree which overhangs our deck at camp. When I returned to camp two weeks later, I discovered a bunch of shriveled.....but not dead pansies. I gave them some water and promised to bring them home where I could give them more TLC.

So when it was time to back up the car to go home I put the plant in a box along with some other items which needed to go back to civilization. I loaded my car, being careful to leave a space for the box full of ailing pansies (which would of course receive the best of care at home). As I was placing the box in my car I saw a huge wolf spider, big as my fist sitting in the box looking at me. Now, put yourself in my place...small car, one and a half hour ride home. I did the only thing I could possibly do....and I'm sure the pansies are just fine, sitting in the box, in the yard up at camp.

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