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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Tulips, a lesson in backruns and patience.

 Today I hope I am bringing you a bright and colourful posting, full of the joys of Spring! It has been a lovely sunny week here, still very cold, although that did change a little today. As I mentioned in my last post, on seeing those tiny bright flowers, I felt inspired to paint them, see above. I'm hoping to make these into a little pattern. making the flowers very tiny. I have really had a week off this last week, as I was waiting on decisions with some sketches, so with my mind buzzing with flowery inspiration, I finally decided to paint some tulips. I love these flowers, they are just so cheerful, in whatever colour. I do have some in the garden, but they are not out yet, and don't last too long, so I found my subject matter in a brochure, and did a sketch of the flowers in a bag, as they were presented.
 I had to think about my process to paint, and decided to mask out the body of the flowers, whilst painting the leaves. I have to tell you, this painting has taken all week to do! It has been a matter of painting one part, wet in wet, adding more paint, letting that swoosh in and settle, waiting to dry, then onto the next part.
Flowers masked out still, leaves all painted.

 I then started to paint in the flower heads, each petal painted separately, waiting for just the right moment in the paint drying stage, to add clean water to whichever edge I wanted to be the lightest, this created a backrun, which I felt captured the feel of these flowers, I also added the stems in at this stage, allowing those to develop backruns too. Hopefully you can see the backruns where the paint has sort of feathered and fuzzed out, I liked this effect. But it is so painstaking, carefully working up each petal, holding the paper at all angles, waiting and watching each stage progress.
The centre pink flower is still wet here.

I added the stem, whilst the flower was still wet, allowing the paint to run back into the  flower.

 It's quite difficult to capture what is happening in a photo. I wanted to show the intensity of the colour I put down, as this dries quite a bit paler. It's hard enough for me to get this right, I end up holding the paper up to the light by the window, so that I can see how the wet stage is drying, as it's quite crucial the point at which to add water or paint!! All in all, it's been a really satisfying exercise, but I had to be so patient, it was like watching paint dry, Ha Ha, funny, not :) I wasn't very patient however, and started another project, which I hope to show soon, whilst waiting for the paint to dry. I managed to finish the tulips, but I've yet to show you that, you will have to be me, and hopefully you'll come back to see it.
As a little aside this week, which has been a holiday week over here, I've had 2 delightful encounters with some rather beautiful birds. I stepped out of the house the other day, to walk the dog, and heard some unusual bird noises, it sounded rather like tiny baby birds all chirping at once?? It was a sunny day, but I knew there hadn't been a sudden surge of baby birds around! The trees at the end of our avenue held the mysterious noise, a large flock of beautiful waxwings, whoooweeee, they were lovely. When you are tuned in to the birds, these sounds alert you straight away, I'm glad my brain works this way.
 Then later that day, we were walking(the dog) again, up on some local heathland, and I had my first sighting of a green woodpecker. We flushed it up from the ground, where I presume it was ant hunting? It flew ahead into some trees, and we managed to see it again, it was trying to hide and was flat to a tree trunk, quite hard to spot, but then it swooped along to another tree, whoooweee again. This is quite a large bird, and its flashes of yellow and green and red are just delightful. It makes a crazy 'yaffle' laughing sound too, which it did as we walked away, laughing at us (but we did get a good sighting of it, ha ha,).

So I hope I've brightened your day, with all these colourful splashes, it's certainly perked up my week! See you again soon, with my finished painting and some more, hopefully.


  1. you've brightened my day Julie with your beautiful tulips!:)

  2. I love your tulips painting, Julie. Fun to see the step by step progress too.
    Waxwings visit our garden too--usually to steal all of our berries! :) A green woodpecker sounds very exotic and must have been a lovely sighting.

  3. I really enjoy have a peep at your work in progress. Your flowers have brightened my day.

  4. The tulips are beautiful~ and I admire your patience for all the steps and waiting required to get them that way! :))))
    It actually feels "warm" outside for the first time today, little leaf buds on the trees...
    Great bird sitings! I think I've only ever seen one waxwing, EVER! Don't know if we have the green woodpecker here??
    Enjoy your painting!

  5. Lovely work on those tulips. Thanks for bringing the Spring forward a little.
    I know that last bird in your post as the green yaffer - a West Country name (I think) given due to the almost tropical-sounding laugh it makes. We have several in our back lawn burying acorns for the winter and then making lots of holes trying to find them again.

  6. Thanks for all your comments peeps. Always lovely to see. We are still freezing here, despite some nice sunshine. I'm glad I brightened your days. I wish I had Green Woodpeckers in my back garden, how lucky are you Bella, I think that woodpecker may have been searching for acorns. :)

  7. Oh, how I hope one day we can have a cup of tea together (after a good walk!), one side of the Atlantic or the other! I've just caught up on several of your recent posts and you alway managed to inspire me in buckets. Love your recent tulips and delighted in your detail of process. Loved the stamping project. Love Mark Herald's work (I have the children's book he recently illustrated "Outside your Window"). And, I see we are both March babies- mine, March 19th. So, happy recent birthday, too! Could we have been born under any other sign but Pisces?!

    And finally, I loved the green woodpecker sighting! We do have (fairly commonly) Cedar Waxwings, which are simliar to the ones you observed. Keep your eyes peeled for others!

  8. your tulips are gorgeous: you captured the intensity of colour perfectly, I think. Well done!
    Water colour is so difficult, isn't it?

    I love waxwings. I've only seen a flock of them once while the girls and I were out. But never again.
    Have a great weekend, I hope it stays sunny and gets warmer where you are.

  9. Hi Claudia, yea for Pisces people, that was my Dad's birthday!! Thank-you for your lovely comments.A cup of tea would be grand! Been out woodpecker hunting and took my binocs, but it was nowhere to be seen.
    Thanks Barbara, watercolour is a bit scary always and the braver you are, the more rewarding usually, it's the happy accidents that are best! :) We are hoping for higher than 10 degrees this weekend!


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