Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas ‘Fire and Ice’

I have been working on this drawing for awhile now.  Adding different backgrounds to my flower portraits has been an idea in my head for some time, but I have had trouble trying to figure out how to do it.  I have tried before with smudgy type backgrounds (technical term there), but I have never liked it.

The idea for this background came to me when I was photographing some sweet peas last year and was looking at the great pattern of the stems and tendrils and thought they would make a good background, especially if I did them in grey scale.  This also gave me the chance to use my water soluble graphite sticks.  I always love the chance to play with new art supplies and it may even justify their purchase!

Although I am fairly happy with the result, I am not completely sure that this is the answer.  The sweet peas are cut out and are just sitting on top of the background, so nothing is set yet.  When I am not sure of a picture I have a few techniques I try to get another perspective on the work.

  1. Put the whole thing away and look at it again in a few weeks.  Not having seen it for awhile gives me fresh eyes to look at the work again to see if I really do like it or not.
  2. The opposite of this is to stick it on the wall where I can look at it for awhile to figure out what is not working.
  3. Taking a photo of the work is my third way of figuring out what is the problem, making it black and white can help, especially if you do not have enough contrast, as this is hard to tell sometime with coloured work.

If you have a different technique please share it with me as I always need help.

Last weekend I went back to one of my favourite nurseries, Lambley Nursery just out of Ballarat, as they had a garden tour and you could visit their sweet peas that they grow for their flower seeds, over 100 varieties.  The sweet pea I drew is from their garden last year and is called Fire and Ice.  I took a few photos, (over 70, but who is counting) and have included a few of my favourites for your viewing pleasure.

Might be a second Sweet Pea picture….


13 responses to “Sweet Peas

  1. So let me try to understand. In that top image, you have carefully cut around the flowers and placed the cut-out gently on top of the grey background? It really doesn’t look like that in the photo. For one thing, the flower cut-out hasn’t curled at the edges. Hence the flowers look totally part of the whole – as opposed to perching on top.
    Your critical brain must be in overdrive. To me seeing this for the first time, it has totally worked. It looks harmonious, original and unique – a fresh viewpoint on a flower drawing. You have beautiful drawing skills combined with imagination. What’s not to love about this?
    Couldn’t you just imagine this composition in lead-light with the sun glinting through the glass?

    • The original flower is on heavy paper 320g, I usually work on this weight just because I like the feel of it. So it is quite rigid and will stay flat even when I mount it slightly raised. I am glad you like it Julie, you know I value your opinion. Probably over thought the whole thing, that is why I have put it away. Sometimes it is better to do something quickly and not belabour the idea. It would make a beautiful lead light, I have seen windows that have a coloured main figure surrounded by greyscale backgrounds. Karen.

  2. Indeed sometimes the best thing you can do is put a work into a drawer for a while. I’m glad you posted it though. If it is sweet peas you love, I see why you need a lot of pinks and want more.

  3. Karen, I like this idea. I think it’s working, but I also understand why you are concerned about it looking pasted on. One solution would be to extend the color from the sweet peas a little bit into some of the stems and leaves so that they aren’t just totally grayscale. Ruth

  4. It’s lovely Karen! If I were to offer any suggestion, and please know it’s only a thought and certainly not a criticism, perhaps a lighter tone to the grey-scale background?

    • Thanks Karen. I agree, I had it much lighter to start with and the sweet peas disappeared into the background, so I darkened it a little, but had too much contrast in the background and it dominated the flowers. So.. I knocked back the pale areas to reduce the contrast and this is where I ended up, slightly too dark. Don’t think I can lighten it now, so will live and learn for next time. I appreciate your suggestion.

  5. I really like this too Karen – it is a unique approach. What you have is quite a graphic (as opposed to realistic) image, I agree with Julie about seeing it as a leadlight. It a very strong and striking image. Ruth’s suggestion is good if you want to make the two parts more unified, also you could soften the edges a little, blend them in places into the background. But having said that, I would stick with it the way it is!

    I do similar things to you when I am not happy with a piece, often putting it away for some time. Turning it upside down is another thing, squinting at it sometimes helps too … and I get heaps of inspiration from the people I follow on Instagram, you get a flying glimpse of something which can spark new ideas.

    • I had forgotten about the upside down view, always a good one. I don’t need to squint anymore,just take off the classes.😁. At the moment I have no trouble with inspiration, I usually find more images that I would to draw than I can fit in. So many flowers, so little time.

  6. Reblogged this on sketchuniverse and commented:

  7. Fabulous!!! Isaw this over on Sketch Universe.

  8. You are such an inspiration! I’m fascinated with your process and throughly impressed at the bright colors achieved with the blending of media. Keep it coming!

  9. Thanks Gale, I love the inspiration I get from fellow bloggers too, especially when they share the process as well.

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