Happy New Year ! It has to be said and I do truly hope that this year is a happier one than last , that said it hasn't started well has it ! Hey ho what can we do ? We all need to hunker down for a while longer yet and keep ourselves physically away from other people, however I don't think that means we can't get closer to each other too. Lets keep talking, communicating and reaching out. These days of January are always tricky and this year they are trickier than usual. However when the sun shines and the frost sparkles I do feel lucky to be alive.
This morning my little corner of the UK was transformed into Narnia, if you can get out for a walk or can watch the birds outside , then do , nature is carrying on regardless .
So yesterday I though about my blog , and what I could paint that was cheerful and uplifting . The most cheerful thing I could think of was sunflowers, they can't help but bring a smile to your face and brighten up a room even on the dullest of days. I was also reminded of the film Calendar Girls when he likens the women of Yorkshire to sunflowers
The flowers of Yorkshire
Are like the women of Yorkshire.
Every stage of their growth has its own beauty,
But the last phase is always the most glorious.
Then very quickly they all go to seed.
Which makes it ironic my favourite flower
Isn’t even indigenous to the British Isles, let alone Yorkshire.
I don’t think there’s anything on this planet
That more trumpets life than the sunflower.
For me, that’s because of the reason behind its name.
Not because it looks like the sun
But because it follows the sun.
During the course of the day,
The head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky.
A satellite dish for sunshine.
Wherever light is, No matter how weak,
These flowers will find it.
And that’s such an admirable thing.
And such a lesson in life.
Now I am a proud Lancastrian, but I get the sentiment, and with a mum from Yorkshire and lots of Yorkshire relatives , I know what a proud county it is. I think in these dark days ahead we should all search for the light wherever and whenever we can. So here is my bit of light for you this week.
Firstly I drew a sunflower , then unusually for me I used masking fluid to carefully block in the outline.
Now you could mask off the whole flower , but I have always found that masking fluid however carefully applied or removed does alter the paper underneath, making it more difficult to paint on so I like to use as little as possible. I have masked this off so I can do a background. If you just wanted to paint the sunflower then simply don't bother at all with the masking fluid. Make sure the masking fluid you buy is removeable.
Then when the masking fluid is completely dry, wet the paper around the flower, till it is really quite wet but not soaking ( it is so tricky to describe this but practise is the best way to understand how the water works).
Now I need to get my background colours ready. I want to give the illusion of an out of focus photograph. All painting is just that really, an illusion, so look carefully at photos, and I used some blues at the top ( for an illusion of sky) then greens and yellows. You need to do this quickly in one go and then let it be. No faffing about at this stage.....be brave !!!
Then let it dry
Now very carefully remove the masking fluid, trying not to tear the paper, you can use an eraser but then you might need to add your pencil lines again. Go steady ….
Now to begin on the petals. Work you way around , leaving gaps where you want the paint to dry so all the petals don't blur into one another. Look where the lights and darks are.
Leave the white of the paper to be the lightest highlights, and try to work with the paper if it has some abrasions from rubbing off the masking fluid.
Can you see I have left some petals to return to later while others dry. This is a lovely piece to do over a few days, painting sunshine, thinking of Mediterranean summers. What better form of escapism is there ?
Nearly finished, I painted the centre quickly, with yellow ochre and the dropped some raw sienna and burnt umber for the darker circles, and finally I painted the green leaves and stalk.
My little bit of captured sunshine is finished. The colours change in my photos because the light levels are different, this last photo was taken today and the sun is shining .
Have a go, either with or without a background , whatever the outcome I think painting away with some bright yellows on your brush is sure to take you away from these dark January days.