Plant life

For this exercise I was tasked with making a very detailed painting using either water colour, acrylic or oil, of the plants or weeds in my garden or nearby environment. The surface size should be between A5 and A3, and needed to be painted with a mid-tone first. I walked around my garden and took some photographs of different compositions, and settled on the below image to work from. I also decided to use acrylic paint to portray my detailed image of plant life.

I started by creating a grid to lay over the image to help me ensure that I could paint the detail into the painting and that I had the correct size and positioning. I used pencil to mark out the general size and shape of significant parts of the painting, such as the paving stones, brick wall and plants.

I used a pale warm yellow as the ground for this A4 painting on board and started by tackling the paving stones first. There is a speckled rough texture to the paving stones which I tried to achieve using different brushes and also by pulling off some paint with cotton wool pads. I worked over this particular area numerous times and I think there has been some success in creating those textures. It’s important to note that the paper has buckled somewhat so the painting appears bowed, but the edges are actually quite neat as I used a ruler to mark out the space and painted to the edges quite carefully to give a cleaner finish.

I also tried to capture the different textures and tones in the brickwork above which was quite challenging. The bricks appear a lot more colourful and vibrant in comparison to the original image. If I had chosen to use oil paint instead of acrylic it might have been a good experiment to work with monotype as the print creates some texture, although perhaps using a sponge with acrylic could have been a good option also. Comparing both the painting and photograph I think the plants are also painted a little too dark, I did add in some light green as I had noticed this whilst painting but I wonder actually if once it dried and was photographed the greens then still appeared darker. I also applied the paint quite heavily for the plants so they stood out more against the paving stones and brick.

Using another photograph I had taken in the garden I decided to produce an additional painting, this time using oil paint. I painted in a similar mid-tone to begin with, and then layered the paints to create texture and depth. I think the blue/black works well as an underpainting as there is a lot of blue in the photographic image.

I then gradually added in warmer yellows to the blue/green layers to try and create the inside of the younger leaves, also adding in some slight orange for the edges of some of the leaves which have been affected.

I approached this painting in more of a fluid way without using grids or pencil line, but instead trying to intuitively create the leaves using brush marks only and focusing on the vibrant colours of the plant life.

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