The amazing poet and polymath, Godfrey Rust asked me about a watercolour of dandelions dispersing seed against an azure sky. It’s the second CD cover I’ve been asked for in this new year. It’s a real problem though. The dandelion is made up of hundreds of fine stems which in a 2D painting equates to hundreds of fine white lines against a (Cerulian?) Blue background.

I needn’t point out that for an artist, black lines are a more readily accessible commodity, and even more readily against a pale white or yellow background.

What to do? I started by asking Google if Snapseed can create a colour negative. And it turns out the answer is yes, using Snapseed’s “Curves” filter.

As an experiment, I tried my (Black) line drawing of a 1920s Pohl X-Ray Maschine, with a Lemon Yellow background:

The results are perfect regarding the exchange of white for black. And Lemon Yellow becomes Dark Ultramarine Blue.

This is a double breakthrough! I now need to apply the same filter to a page of my Winsor & Newton paintbox colours. The “Before & After” images will enable me to paint deliberately in negative colours so that my black lines will become white lines when the original paintwork becomes the intended image. Here’s what happens:

Above is the “positive” chart; below is the “negative”

Now it’s clear that in order to achieve a nice Azure Blue sky, the negative original should be a Yellow Ochre, or Raw Sienna.

Next I decided to be more methodical. Step 1: inversion of the reference photo: Before & After (positive & negative)

Step 2: paint a negative with black lines and invert it. Before & After: (Negative & positive)

It’s a striking image. The white lines are looking good. But I wanted a blue sky and a green stem. I try “cooling” the entire image but all I get is this:

Back to the drawing board. I have to match and mix the negative colours better. I must also remember that the final artwork must accommodate a lot of titles & text.

here’s another pair; negative & positive:

At this point Godfrey and I review the concept and he likes it so much he wants to feature both the positive and the negative in the front and rear of the CD case. I suggest we reverse one of them horizontally to give the impression of looking behind the same flower. This ties in with the idea of the poems which often present alternative viewpoints on familiar ideas.

So I go back to work with more care, as GR expressed his fondness for the beauty of the original photo image.

Here’s another pair in progress. The colours are getting more controlled and some realism is starting to show.

I like the greens. Let’s try a mustard yellow from Naples and Winsor Yellow; see if we can get a nice deep blue,…

And here’s the negative:

Again I’m using a watercolour pen and a Graphite Stick for the black that becomes white:

finally I’m happy with the positive but the original negative needs saturation to match its intensity:

I think the time has come to add text. To allow for corrections I’ll print the above images and write the text on the prints.

it’s high time I did; the process has been interrupted by a HiFi upgrade that required me to listen to all my CDs again.

GR sends me a draft. The actual lettering may have a different font but we can see where it’s going; and it will be flipped horizontally for reasons too tedious to explain.

The result is striking. But does it resonate with the music and its poetry? Only the artist can tell. Whether or not this is the chosen album cover, it’s been a fascinating exercise.

footnote: a final pair, with extra seeds and then rotated to reduce the droopy look:

3 thoughts on “Dandelions

  1. Very intriguing. Good job you are I.T. literate. I could attempt to paint it, but would have no clue at all about manipulating the image on the computer. The results are truly impressive

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