Floral practice

Its been a long hiatus since I last posted. The main reason for that was the Tom Hoffmann's Melaque Workshop that I was part of (I am in the process of writing blog posts about this workshop, stay tuned). Between recovering from the workshop I taught and getting ready for Tom's workshop, I just didn't have enough mental space to write.

Now that all that is behind me, I am trying to get back into my sharing mode. 

This week I am painting florals in preparation for the Floral and Still Life workshop that I am taking this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing Mike Kirschel, who was my first art teacher, a wonderful artist and teacher who has since relocated out of this area. The workshop is actually in oil/acrylic but I am going to be bringing watercolors. Mike doesn't let the medium get in the way of teaching making good art, and I really appreciate that about him. 

Anyway, getting back to practicing florals, I am really moved by the beautiful florals by Fabio Cembranelli. I have been watching his youtube videos and trying to figure out how he does what he does. There is not much information on the web about his process, so it really is becoming detective work :-)

It will take me a couple of decades to do the kind of things that Fabio does, but I learned a few things so far :

1. Strong composition with hard and soft edges, fuzzy wet-in-wet shapes juxtaposed with sharp, gestural marks with the rigger are the most important aspects of Fabio's painting. This is probably the trickiest thing of all, as it is mostly about developing the intuition about which marks are most fluent and make those decisions quickly while the paper is still wet.
2. He claims he works wet-in-wet entirely, and I have been trying to figure out what enables him to paint in this manner. One thing that I learned is that when painting wet-in-wet, using flat brushes is most helpful because they carry less water and less likely to dump a whole bunch of water on the paper causing blooms. 
3. To get the kind of luminosity and lightness of Fabio's florals, I think we need to use transparent pigments. Also since we are painting completely wet-in-wet, it is important for these pigments to be low staining as well. 

I did a few attempts today, and these two are the most successful.

Florals are easy and tricky at the same time. If you do it right, you just need a few strokes to paint a flower. But it is extremely hard to get those few strokes right, especially so in watercolor :-) 

Still, they are a good way to push the paint around during days when time is at a premium, and hope that the practice will amount to something some day.