Tag Archives: Norfolk Botanical Garden

red and yellow day lilies / acrylic and palette knife

I could work on this more but I think I’ll stop now.

It was much easier painting the flowers the second time at home. I did the first coat of paint in Plein air and the paint was drying too fast. At home it dries a little slower because I’m adding more water and not standing in the sun and wind to paint.

I painted a couple dead heads because I like the contrast between the spinning bright blooming flowers and the muted colors and drooping dead heads. The gardeners like to pull the dead heads right off so the plant will bloom more but I saw a couple of them and put them in the painting even if gardeners don’t like to see them.

I decided not to paint leaves in the background because my stems and buds wouldn’t show up as well. And these flowers are taller than the leaves, so the leaves would only be on the bottom of the painting. I thought the flowers are busy enough without the additional lines of leaves. I used tints of burnt umber for the background instead of green so you could see the stems and buds better. They make a kind of linear design element that contrasts to the star shaped flowers.

To paint the background I needed a lot of paint mixed up and wanted it to stay wet for a couple hours, so I mixed a few tints of burnt umber in these little plastic cups with lids. I added more paint and water mixing my colors to have close values but not exactly the same brown to make the background have a little variation in the tints. I made the paint runny and I had these 3 cups all filled about 2/3 of the way. I have a little left over which is still wet today since I added enough water and sprayed the paint with water before putting the lids on. I could use this brown to tint another paper for another acrylic painting.

It might be more practical for me to paint at home with acrylics than in Plein air. The next painting I do will be oils and brushes instead of acrylics and a palette knife.

red and yellow spider lilies / it’s a start

This is a 16 x 20 canvas that I tinted with gray acrylic. My little black sketchbook would be too small to paint the spider lilies since I want to paint life size and not have to squish the flowers. I can fit 2 more flowers on the canvas but that will be next week. After I get all the flowers roughed in like this I’ll start some background leaves. Then I’ll go over the whole thing again. I think it will be much brighter when it’s finished.

It’s too hot out there. I can only concentrate for 1 hour in this heat and I think I’m so dedicated for tolerating the heat that long! It took me around an hour for each flower. That’s 3 drives to the garden so far and they’re gouging us on the price of gas, but I can do the second coat of paint at home. I might do a still life at home this summer to save gas, or work on my baseball scene which I can see from my balcony.

I’m not sure about continuing to paint with acrylics and a palette knife. A brush would be faster and easier. The acrylics dry too fast and even when I only squirt a little out of the tube and spray it with water the paint starts to dry before I finish one flower. With oil paint, I can mix enough of the color for all my flowers at one time and put a piece of plastic wrap over it and I don’t have to mix the color every day. Oil paint stays workable for weeks with plastic over it.

The main good thing about painting like this is I don’t have to clean brushes.

Wings of Chance / acrylic and palette knife

Wings of Chance is the name of this day lily.

The weather is much cooler today and it was cloudy. I was glad to get to the garden and paint this flower because they’re calling for rain 4 or 5 days in a row and I don’t know how much I’ll get out this week.

It will be great next week when a whole bunch of these day lily buds all bloom at once. I might get a piece of watercolor paper stretched for a painting of 3 or 5 flowers and some buds. I’ve been looking for some red spider lilies that I painted a few years ago with oils. I’d like to try again with acrylics. But what I really wish I could find is Tiger Lilies. I’ve been looking around for a few years off and on and haven’t seen any.

That was fun to scratch through the red and yellow paint. I like glomming it on thick and scratching through it and smearing it with my palette knife.

These flowers on my little black sketchbook are just for practice. When I do my finished painting I might use my cake decorating bag and pipe the stamens in the center of the flowers. Then I’ll have a contrasting sharp line next to my smears. I’m not sure if I should do the background for a finished painting with acrylics and a palette knife or if I should do a watercolor background.

Day Lily / acrylic and palette knife

A few day lilies are blooming! This one is tints of yellow ochre with a tint of a red violet line. I should have mixed some red in with my violet but it was too hot out there! I had to take a couple breaks and sit in the shade because when I was standing in the sun painting sweat was dripping onto my paper! I kept spraying my little palette with water but the paint was drying as I was working on it.

They’re calling for heat again tomorrow then a chance of rain for a few days. If I go when they open at 9 I might be able to paint another flower but if it gets later, forget about it, too hot for me! Guess I’ll have to look for shady places soon but this weather is unseasonably hot! I might have to turn on the AC! My apt. still feels ok so far but I had AC on in the car.

Oranges ‘n’ Lemons / acrylic and palette knife

The black sketchbook paper really warped when I did the background. Maybe after it’s good and dry I can weight it down and see if it will flatten. I accidentally ripped the paper twice! omg. So I taped it and painted over the rip.

It was real nice at the garden today and a lot of people were there. Oranges ‘n’ lemons is a variegated rose. The rose garden is huge! And it smells so nice!

A nice smear and thick clumps of paint

Wow! Acrylics dry too fast!! I sprayed my orange with water when I mixed up the color then put some yellow, white and dark red on my little palette and sprayed them too. First I started painting where I wanted the orange and dark red to be and left spaces for the whites and yellow. Before I got finished with the orange it was drying up already! I had to stop half way and spray again! So I picked up a few little clumps of dried paint before I finished the orange. Note the clumps! hahah

I was glad I came home to do the background because it was really messy! When I mixed up the background green I squirted out some yellow from an old tube of paint a friend gave me long ago and it was runny! So the background paint is thinner and made the paper buckle but I like the contrast between the thick clumpy flowers and the runny background.

Siberian irises / acrylic and palette knife

It was nice to get to the garden and paint today. They’re predicting the next 5 days to have rain and wind.

I got into the zone painting this even though a lot of people walked behind me, I was on a little side path and didn’t block anyone’s way. Then I sat on a bench in the shade to do the background.

Do acrylics dry darker than they look wet? I was experimenting with mixing colors today. Violet is a hard color to match to nature. You can buy the brightest tube of violet but when you mix it with a little blue or a little red or white you lose some chroma. (brightness) That’s how it is with a lot of paint. With oils or watercolors you can do thin glazes of unmixed colors and the viewer’s eye will mix the colors by seeing through the glazes, and you lose less chroma. A lot of artists use the paint straight out of the tube without mixing colors to avoid the loss of chroma.

When I sat in the shade and looked at my violets I thought it needs to be redder and bluer so I mixed more colors of dark violet and mixed up a reddish violet and bluish in the light violet too. I’m hoping that the viewer’s eye will pick up the contrast between the cool violet and warm violet as chroma.

oops, slightly out of focus on the bottom of the pic

When you paint like this you get unwanted blips all over the painting. I decided to cover the violet blips with the background greens. Then I had blips in both violet and green. The paint goes on thick which is fun if you like textures but it’s just as slow for me to paint as if I was using brushes, it just comes out with ragged edges. It’s a look modern art likes, “happy accidents”. At least I don’t have to sketch them with charcoal first, just slap some paint down. With flowers, no one knows if you go off in drawing.

I could say I’m just wasting paint or I could say this is me figuring out how to do this. I could say, everything I do is a huge waste of paint. I’ve been wasting paint for so many years I can’t even remember. Or, I could say I’m creating fn masterpieces here. hahahah I will never get the answers to these questions. I’ll be dead, like Van Gogh before the jury comes in, if ever. And my paintings could be lost in time since I’m not signing most of them.

irises on green paper / acrylic and palette knife

This is more practice with acrylics and palette knife. Today I mixed some colors instead of using them straight out of the tube. A couple times I estimated the exact amount of a color I needed and a couple times I overestimated. The colors mixed nicely.

I want to keep practicing with acrylics and a palette knife because it gives a more abstract look than a brush and also I think I might ruin brushes with acrylics. I’ll try to paint more flowers. I’ll watch for day lilies, water lilies and those lilies called butterfly ginger. I’d like to try to paint all those again, this time with acrylics. Maybe by the time I go to Maine in Oct. for Plein air camp I’ll be able to try a landscape like this.

irises on black paper / acrylic and palette knife

That was fun! I might do more! It reminds me of icing a cake.

The palette knife is good for acrylics. I don’t ruin my brushes because this stuff dries as I’m working on it. I know the paint would dry on my brushes unless I kept them in a jar of water while I was working. And I like to scribble with the palette knife and make textures.

iris sketch / acrylic and palette knife

The greens don’t look the same in the photo as they do in real life but you get the idea.

It was great to go to the botanical garden today, sunny with a nice cool breeze. I was just playing around with this. I blobbed the paint straight out of the tube in a few spots on the paper and spread it around with my palette knife. That’s why it’s rough. I’m calling it abstract modern art, contemporary. even. And they thought I was a relic from some dead era with my old style of painting. hahaha. Start with the old style and you can switch to modern if you want, but start with modern art and you might never learn the traditional ways. That’s what they told me at the academy.

I might go back and take more colors next time. I needed yellow and didn’t have it.

Daffodil sketch / Inktense pencils

Welp, this didn’t come out as I hoped. I’m posting it anyway. I always post the good the bad and the ugly because it’s a blog. In fact the ugly stuff gets likes too, or maybe it’s my writing, I don’t know.

Why do I post the bad and ugly? That way you can see how much practice I go through to get something good. The ugly gets you one step closer to the beautiful, maybe next time. It’s a big part of art that people don’t usually see but artists know about all the failures they go through.

Art for me is divided up into a few different categories, the fun slap dash modern art attempts where I try to go with the flow and see if I get something, the time I spend experimenting, the time I spend doing sketches and planning and the time I spend trying to make a painting that I really like. All the aspects of art are important if you want to improve. Then as time goes by you get more good results but you still make a mess sometimes and you learn from the ones that don’t work.

The daffodils are starting to wilt but I’ll go back for tulips or day lilies or irises. They’re all on my list of flowers to paint.