Not all paintings I create are a favourite, some become more appealing to me in different ways over time, like this one:
I finished this painting late last year after my European tour to Sweden and Russia. This painting is part of the current series about Nature of Truth, and at the time, I thought it was to be an etude, like a thought stepping stone of ideas before I completed another work from it.
While in Sweden, I had painted expressionist forget me nots during my masterclass demonstrations (now in Private collection in Sweden) read the blog post here. The photo below shows a small detail of the work.
The flowers came to mean more to me as my tour from Sweden to Russia progressed, and I began to draw connections between the Nature of Truth, in particular the notion of letting go of judgement and creating spaces of awareness and vulnerability.
I have always loved forget me not flowers, as a teen I tried to grow them unsuccessfully in my garden, and it wasn't until 25 years later that I would experience the full heart full warmth, symbolism and beauty of these petite blue flowers. Historically, forget me nots we used as a gift or to decorate gifts, with the hope the recipient will not forget the giver. It also symbolizes faithful love and memories. As you may have read the story about my experiences with this flower in Sweden, this flower came into my world again in Russia. Among the many beautiful flowers I was given as heartfelt gifts from students and friends, I was given these beautiful forget me nots again in St Petersburg; and later at a friend's home in Moscow, I was greated by a sea of tiny blue spots, which surrounded their home like a Seurat painting. Below is my dear friend and talented artist, Tanya Samotoshina, who gave me this beautiful bouquet.
A few pics from my trip which for me helped establish the starting point for these works. It was a hot 2 weeks in St Petersburg during that time (May 2014), and I was particularly inspired by the large mass of clear blue sky and the colours of late Spring. The light is very different from that in Australia, and it was this expanse, and sense of space which got the ball rolling.
The painting journey
I went through a few different phases of thought while painting, which you can see below. The initial painting was focussed on moving away from the details of flowers shapes in my painting in Sweden, to capturing the senses of Spring,scent, space, letting go. I wanted to express the feeling of flowers' sweet scent in Spring air, the heady wafts of scent on veins of warm and cool air which surrounded me at the gardens I visited in St Petersburg and just walking to my daily business appointments. So it was important to use contrasts or colour, shape, intensity and brushwork to convey those ideas in an abstract expressionist style.
Here is the underpainting, getting the initial colours which were warm greyed tones (very different from other approaches which you can see here) The colours are greyed down to all the next layer to maintain light and space for further layers. I use the colours from the bouquet (pictured above) the shadows, greens, blues, pinks.
Next layers, working the colours and softening...keeping the contrasts for the idea of space. Also making sure that I keep away from any representation of floral shapes.
Close up of softening and building up layers, allowing transparencies to create extra sense of space. Trialing layers of colours to push and pull in the painting
And then I lost it. Sometimes I forget what my focus should have been and I got lost in the creative process of my painting- too much flow! I didn't like where this was going, the colours were wrong, I was patterning the painting with familiarity of colour and technique, rather than painting what I wanted to conceptualise. I felt things were not right, the painting wasn't good, and wasn't going anywhere. It became messy, and everything I kept painting, just got worse.
So I had to stop and re focus, assessed how to solve the problems and keep painting. Have you experienced this before?
Why did I grow to like it?
Sometimes it takes time to fully process and understand what we have created. As you can see there were lots of changes I made through the painting, and it takes time for that to sink in. Over the following months I came to like certain aspects of it, step by step, like the pics below. I loved the thin transparencies of brush work which represented the feel of merging scent and warmth and coolness of the air.
I realised I did achieve what I wanted in the end, and the biggest problem I had was to not get caught up in judgement of my work, because it just kept getting worse and worse as I focused on what I didn't like. The best thing about this painting was that I developed new painting techniques and understandings which I'll apply to the next works. The title of the work become clear, Bringing clarity to the moment- Forget me not, and reflected the process, a nature of truth for myself as an artist, letting go of judgement and creating spaces of awareness and vulnerability.
If this painting journey sounds like something you experience when you paint, or would like to know more about, join our webinar series about What stops you creating. CLICK HERE.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments here or the facebook box below, I'd love to hear back from you! Lastly, please share this post 🙂