Thursday, 19 June 2014

How Do You Paint Your Garden?

Just before half term, we went to the library and I scored a gigantic stack of arty books. They were heavy, but I wanted to share them with my art group as a source of inspiration.  I lugged them all the way into the school and we set them out in an inviting fashion, but that was the day that we did some finger knitting for yarn bombing and this got everyone hooked and so the books didn't get a look in.
Over half term, I had the luxury of browsing through a new art book each morning with my coffee.
Very leisurely and very indulgent.
My favorite was Impressionist Gardens. So much so, that I haven't given it back yet and happily paid the overdue fees and extended my loan.
Monet painting in his garden at Argenteuil - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
                      Auguste Renoir Portrait of Monet Painting in his Garden at Argenteuil, 1873
When I saw this, I decided that that I should pop the easel and paints outside and take the time to paint what we see.  Taking photographs is all very well, but when you try to paint what you see, you might take more time to really observe and appreciate the structure and colour compositions within the garden.
My boy has been asking about mixing colours and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity.
Also, it's extremely relaxing to observe and play around with paint.
The Bridgeman Art Library
                                    Paul Cezanne:The Pool at Jas de Bouffan 1876
I love how they make it look so easy. Such simple looking strokes are so effective.
Photo © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
                    Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Woman with a Parasol in a Garden 1875-76
This reminds me of how I look at my garden with squinted eyes, to get the overall effect without seeing the weeds and the bald patches.
  Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln
Berthe Morisot, Child amoungst the Hollyhocks, 1881

This may look simple, but he really did take the time to look at the flowers and mixed the paints on the pallet himself. (He mixed the yellow with white to soften the brightness and red and white to make his pink.)

I chose to use water colours, but forgot that I'm not very good at painting.
It was relaxing and enjoyable though, so nothing wasted.
And here is a trick that I use when I want to paint something, but would like a lot of assistance, and something to copy from:
Alas, I did not paint these. Photoshop, befunky, and picmonkey did.
To do this, I took a photo that I liked and either Posterized it using Photoshop or PicMonkey, as you would to make your own paint-by-number.  This breaks down the image into basic colours, making it easier to start to think about how an image/painting is made and exactly how much detail goes into the overall image.
I have also manipulated images on BeFunky, creating watercolour, oil, impressionist and pointillism paintings so that I can copy them with my own paints.
My excuse is that I have never been taught How to Paint and I know that a lot can be learnt through copying.
Not quite as romantic as painting in the actual garden a la Monet, but this late night painting was pleasurable all the same.
I chose my image, traced it and transferred it and then little by little, tried to observe and recreate the colours that I saw in each section.

Time taken: 1 episode of Backchat with Jack Whitehall and his Dad and 1 1/2 episodes of Orange is the New Black.

Well the process was fun anyway. 
Here is another that went wrong and I gave up, but I might try to carry on and fix it at some point.
Or not.

I seriously cannot believe how I am allowed to run an art club.

Anyhoo. I am totally infatuated with my garden and the Poppies right now, but I am trying very hard not to get too intense with too many pictures. I found myself sharing Poppy pictures from my phone on a night out with a friend the other day.
I might need an intervention for this obsession.
So being very restrained, I'll share a couple of shots and consider offloading MORE onto another post.

We hadn't had any red Poppies come up until now, and I thought that was for the best seeing how red and pink clash. But then TaDa! It's a Poppy party and it's the best kind of eclectic party where everyone gets along fabulously. 
I love my clashing, chaotic garden. 
If you cross your eyes, it's so Impressionistic.

Joining in with Mammasaurus who was also playing with flower paintings this week on Instagram!

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have a pack of poppy seeds that we collected from here last summer, and I would love to share my obsession. If you want to be my seed pal within the U.K., let me know.
Also, if I can get me a job, I am dreaming of visiting Giverny again one day.  Road trip anyone?


  1. your garden is looking beautiful and you are so good for an art club! what a great idea. your kids did great and so did you!! landscapes are so hard to paint!

    1. Aww thank you:-) I've hung them all together on the wall anyway and it's not too bad from a distance! There is a lot to be said for the whole process of making part. Very therapeutic.

  2. I've never been taught to paint, but LOVE having a go. Not sure I'm brave enough to share. Very inspirational. I shall get my pad out over the weekend and have a go. Is it possible to have too many poppy photos. *innocent face* #HDYGG

    1. I am a big fan of paint by numbers. It's so satisfying and there is a bit of learning that goes on too... love to see what you come up with on your doodle pad! Let's get squiggling! That is not possible to have too many poppy photos. No. :-) I just like to try keep my obsessional tendancies under wraps so as not to overwhelm anyone.

  3. P-P-P-Poppy power! They are stunning Katie I can't wait to see more.
    I love your paintings, I tend to copy things too, I tell myself it's good for my self-confidence as a painter - what a nice way to spend a couple of hours. I keep meaning to head to Exbury Gardens with a pad a sketch - must get on that case next week - you are inspiring me :)
    Thanks for joining in again - now tell me, how soon can we expect more poppies (or poopies as the french policeman in Allo Allo would say)

    1. I'll be sharing more of my poopies tomorrow! I can't wait till next week. Proper obsession. I'm not sure about taking my paintings out in public.The REAL public.Perhaps if I pop a beret on, passer-bys might take my poopie paintings more seriously?

  4. such a lovely post - it took me back to my days as an early years teacher!

  5. Those poppies are gorgeous - I want some, too! And I love the idea of taking the easel outside and getting my daughter painting the garden - that's one for next week, thanks :)

  6. Oh I just love this post! So creative and inspiring. I love your sons vibrant flower picture on the easel in the garden. I must paint in my garden sometime soon :-)

  7. A nice activity that I use to do as a child. I love sketching and I started young with flowers and fruits! #hdygg

  8. what an absolutely awesome way to spend an afternoon! flowers, your children, and art. just lovely.


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