Sunday, 5 April 2015

Bulbs! and a new 30 day challenge, no.1 Sprekelia bulb

Last week I visited the Netherlands to see the 'Late Rembrandt' exhibition at the Rijksmuseum and also visited the fantastic Escher Museum in the Hague. On the way back to the hotel in Amsterdam the flower market caught my attention. I love bulbs! and have been using them for Skype demonstrations for some of my students recently - they're great subjects to demonstrate painting rounded objecs. Today I decided it was time to start a 30 day Spring challenge and painted a Sprekelia bulb.....I didn't finish it because lunch had to be cooked but it was fun.

Unfinished Sprekelia bulb from Amsterdam, no. 1 in the 30 day challenge. Painted on the spare piece of trial Saunders Waterford HP paper, image approx size 16 x 21
I want to take time out this month to do one small painting everyday. Even though I've a lot on at the moment with four commissions in April and a new Composition course starting on th e14th .... but still think there's a bit of spare time to do a daily warm up!  It wasn't difficult to choose this one from the bag of goodies, so this is my number 1 in the 30 day challenge.

Just a few of the bulbs from Amsterdam and a few old painted demos underneath. I like to use bulbs to demonstrate painting form...or actually how to, and how not to paint a rounded object 

The Sprekelia is an amazing dark colour! I like any dark subject but it has so many other colours lurking ....browns, purples, reds and yellows and a strong blue sheen. I was just playing about with this and made an odd decision to use some left over M. Graham paints that had dried on the palette to see if was possible to paint it with what might normally be washed down the sink! It was the leftovers from a Pulmonaria painted last week.  Some tube paints are not meant to be dried out but the M. Graham are OK to re wet and they had been covered. It's not necessarily what I'd choose for the palette for this bulb but I figure you can mix just about anything as long as you have the basics! It really doesn't matter too much.

Stages of the painting: Very rough sketch, followed by a fairly strong wash wash of  ultramarine blue, mixed with some  ultramarine pink on the shade side. I then worked wet-in wet and with a brown mix, made from the blue, quin red and azo yellow. I then layered quite a few different colour biased glazes and  and added what I believe was a little Daniel Smith neutral tint. for some of the detail and dry brush work.  There was a small amount of Scarlet pyroll which came in handy to add to the quin red for the little red/ orange areas. I used a flat square brush, of no particular make, size 4 for most of the painting, it cost 50p from the Jackson's Art sale! and was great for painting the skin. Also  a small spotter and very worn size 2 short flat from Rosemary and Co for the dry brush work. After the layering of washes, I applied a good bit of dry brush work to build up depth and used a shadow colour mix with the Ultramarine and the pink ultramarine.    
So that's my first painting. Not sure if I'll manage all thirty but will give it a go. Lots of little flowers popping up outside, and the butterflies to complete so it's a shame not to get these things painted.

I'll finish off with a couple of images from the Escher Museum. It's the most amazing collection and such a beautiful building. Escher is an inspiration when it comes to perspective and he created some pretty incredible spheres too, I'd recommend it to anyone!  This year again I'm making a point of seeing as many exhibitions as possible. I  think it's always good not to limit yourself to only looking at botanical work 

Beautiful Escher Museum, housed in the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands.

And it has amazing lights! ....Hey that's me in the mirror


  1. Nice that you visited my home country, bulbs and Rembrandt attracted people for centuries haha.
    Good luck with the challenge, looking forward for new master pieces!

    1. Yes Maria! And they're still pulling the crowds! so many wonderful things to see and do in the Netherlands and such lovely people too. It's one of my favourite places :)

  2. Great challenge, I love your bulb. They are great subjects and each year I plant them in the garden it takes me so long as I find myself looking at each one! You did an amazing job, looking forward to seeing more.
    Happy Easter.

  3. You are so inspiring, Dianne! I am coming to a similar conclusion about color mixing--in most cases there's no magic combo. A lot of different mixes can get you to the same place, just start with pure pigments. Thanks for letting me know about the Escher Museum--its on my list for the next time I visit the Netherlands.

  4. I love this bulb. Is it for sale? Can't believe how fast you paint. It's amazing.

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