An almost Still Life

Again, I have a vase of flowers on my table, lilies this time, which were resplendent for over a week. As the flower heads opened the colour went from a rich yellow to a lighter tone as the petals lost lustre. Yesterday morning I noticed how papery the petal tips were, then, oh no! they began to drop onto the table. A hasty trip to grab a watercolour pad from my art shelves; paint, pencils, brushes, pens and a jar.

Although the stalks were strong, and remained a deep green, the leaves a lovely mix of deep and mossy green, I wasn’t sure whether the basically two-tone look would prove enough of a contrast for my sketch. The height from the table-top to the fanned out flowers was quite considerable, but I thought a nice long view might be nice. Funny, that when I had the flowers sketched out I couldn’t fit all the vase in. You would think I hadn’t drawn before! However, I had no larger piece of watercolour paper, and neither did I wish to scrimp on the size of the lilies; that’s why there is only a third of the vase on show.

After I applied watercolour I set the paper aside to dry. I always like to take a two-stage approach to any artwork regardless of whether it is wet or dry. I looked at it the next day, and was relatively pleased with the shape of the whole, but for the sketch to work, it needed more texture. At first I sketched with orange and ochre aquarelle pencils to accentuate the texture, then I plied some heavy lines with graphite, mostly on the stems and made lighter lines around the flowers, to give some more definition. I also dropped more dark and moss green watercolour amongst the stems in the water, to give them a density. When the water was dry I finished the sketch by applying ink along some stems and around a few leaves.

I didn’t aim for a sketch which was picture perfect, but to capture the essence of these large yellow Lillies which had brightened my life, and table for more than a week. I like to use my hand, a little like a pianist might, by lifting the weight (of pencil or paint) then dropping it for a wavering effect.

I guess that I’m not meant to sketch freshly cut flowers, when they look perfect and pristine, but wait until they begin to shed their leaves and flowers, making it perfect for the artist in me.

12 thoughts on “An almost Still Life

  1. Beautiful picture, Vivienne. And interesting insights into your picture making process. Letting you Mr hand drop to make a line is an interesting idea – I will give it a go.


  2. Vivienne, I enjoyed you account of the process, and the product.
    The transformation of a flower is quite beautiful. Another flower of great interest and beauty in its waxing and waning is the tulip.


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