Finally I chose a stand of iris as my subject matter and sat down to sketch.
I began with a pencil drawing of the iris, then lightly sketched in an idea for lettering across the top of the page. This could change later - I was just trying it out at this stage.
|Step 1 - Pencil drawing (Stillman & Birn 10x7 Alpha series sketchbook)|
|Step 2 - Paint base washes on the leaves|
|Step 3 - Paint the yellow centers on the flowers|
Next came the lavender and purple flower petals. And this is the point where I got so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot to stop and take pictures. :( So, let me explain what happened between steps 3 & 4....
|Step 4 - Paint the flower petals|
I first painted the light lavender-pink petals. If you look at the photo at the top of this post, you'll see that the light-colored petals on the iris were actually almost white. I chose to make them lavender because I wanted them to contrast with the white background. Artistic license!
Next I painted the darker purple petals, dropping in some red in places, wet-in-wet, to vary the color. After that all dried, I went back in with a few touches of darker color on the lavender petals and added the darkest yellow in the center of the flower (a mixture of yellow + raw sienna).
Since there was so much white space around the flowers, I decided to break it up with some spattering. I am usually careful not to overdo the spattering, because I don't want it to be too obvious, but in this case I thought more was better. The larger spatters were done with a paintbrush, and some of the finer ones with a piece of window screen. (Simply brush some paint on a piece of screen, hold it over your paper and give a strong, quick blow.)
|Step 6 - Spatter|
The lettering was changed slightly from my original sketch. I just played around with it in pencil until it seemed just right, then painted it with the same colors I had used for the sketch, using a small round brush.
|Step 7 - Finalize lettering|
All finished! Most of the painting had been done on location at Merryspring, out in the wind and sun, but I ran out of time before it was completed. The final touches on the flowers and the lettering were done at home. Total time to paint it was probably 1-1/2 - 2 hours.
It seems that painting directly from a pencil sketch makes me feel a little freer than when I do an ink drawing first. This painting is looser than my usual style, and I like that.
On this trip to Maine, I resolved to try new things. This sketch was a departure from my usual routine in that I didn't use ink lines, I varied the leaf color substantially from what was in front of me, and I minimized detail. I think the sketch reflects the fact that I felt relaxed and happy that day at Merryspring, sitting in the sun in that peaceful garden with beauty all around me and my friends nearby. And it makes me happy again every time I look at it and remember.
PS - The folks at Merryspring Nature Center liked my sketch so much that they have decided to feature my watercolor on some of the products they sell in their onsite retail shop. Now my irises will be printed on mugs, T-shirts and other items to raise money for Merryspring. Awesome!