Bike & Sunflowers

Flattered to be offered a commission which also happens to be an interesting challenge. 

Here’s the original:

And here’s a #Prisma with #Gothic #filter (only 25%) version to obtain blocks of colour and a style of brush mark component shapes to aim for:

Next step is to print using Microsoft “Paint” onto four borderless sheets.

So I. Or have this to tape together as a reference:

Now what? Find a huge sheet of paper I guess, and start thinking about making larger more consistent mixes of paint!

Well. I’ve done it all the wrong way round: Should have cropped the photo to 3:2 for printing A4, then printed a huge one. Instead I’ve printed it 16:9 and now cropped it by folding the edges under, to 4:3 to go in a 40x30cm frame with no mount.

Anyway, I can now start painting the printed cropped photo onto an exactly equal size 16″x12″ sheet of cold press watercolour paper. Whew!

I start by drawing outlines, while researching how on earth I can get dark shadows underneath every leaf in the forest (!)

Next a week goes by of looking at the image and thinking how can I do this? Finally I try a few ideas on a test sheet. I think I need to use opaque gouache body colour to achieve light colour on top of dark. 

Concurrently working on colour methods while outlining the layout. Pencil; then ink; then spots of resist (Masking fluid), watercolour, then gouache. .

The sketch gets ‘completed’ and last thing at night I put in the blobs of ‘resist’ which will reveal white paper for the little flowers. 

Before doing the floor, I get some greens going at the bottom. Mixing Naples Yellow into Viridian, Olive, and Sap Greens. 

When that’s done I’ll pull the clingfilm of s tester I did for the floor. To see how it creates texture in some Olive a Green and Burnt Umber that I loosely mixed on the paper:

The effect turns out to be very ‘leafy’. Nice, but not dark enough;

Good to test first; a darker wash works well on the picture as it develops:

Do after a while I remove the dots of masking fluid and keep working on leaves, shadows, and at last,.. begin a couple of sunflowers 🌻 

So we’re on about three days now. Not full time. Probably two full working days would do it once one knows what to do. 

Colour is in the flowers now. And experimenting to see if there should be some texture in the flower centres. 

Having dropped in everything planned for the foliage, I impatiently go for the sky and then very impatiently go for the bike. It’s a disaster. All Is Lost. Heavy-handed outlines, misplaced lines. Completely ignored the painting and tried to do a bike I dark shadows that aren’t even there. End up on the phone to dad, asking how I can fix this:

Here’s the plan: 

  • Lift off the black. Never use black except to granulate colours with a touch of Lamp Black. Nothing is actually black;
  • Get out the gouache. Fill the foreground sunflowers with solid golden yellow tinged with primary pale yellow;
  • Mix a unifying green and give all the leaves an overlay;
  • Mix a green / grey and put distinct shadows where leaf overhangs leaf;
  • Take the bicycle back to white, then add shade and more shade with pale blue, then dark blue. 

Here it is with black removed, bike whited-out, and flowers gilded with yellow gouache and a pin-prick of Alizarin Crimson

Trying again to get s realistic bike. Exploded the original photo. I wish now I’d traced the bike 😇

I take more care, and  summon a little confidence (!) and get a better version:

This might be about ready to frame; and in fact it looks good on the wall. 

Finally I Review with my mentor who gives me a sketch to practice copying. Which I do. 



And now, on to the next task, and hopefully in due course, on to the next level. ..

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