Trying Hard to be Simple

We have a lot of flowers around since the kids left. There’s this pink one that is Joy’s favorite.  I thought I’d take a stab at representing it in watercolors.

Today’s experiment

I sketched this flower from life, as it was right outside, but I referred to the photograph in order to get the correct hues and shading.

Photograph of Pink Flower

At first I thought that I would only use one shade – pink. For the first stage in my painting, I used Permanent Red Deep from MaimeriBlu. I don’t exactly know why. It seemed to match the shade I wanted.  I took a photo of my work after using the Red Deep, mixed with a lot of white:

Watercolor Sketch - Pink Flower First Stage

Pink Flower Stage 1
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

It doesn’t look quite right. I think I made an error in choosing Payne’s Gray for the shadow. I should have stuck with a dark shade of red.

I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what was wrong with this study. It looks a bit anemic.

So I though I might wash it with another color. It seems that lemon yellow is a good transparent color. Furthermore, I knew that the yellow wash wouldn’t be the top layer, so I thought I’d try it.

Here is stage 2:

Watercolor Sketch - Pink Flower Second Stage

Pink Flower Stage 2
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper

It looks like a flower, but not a pink flower. I was a bit concerned, because the gray color was invading the adjoining area. I took an ‘elephant ear’ sponge – which I have just started using, and gently scrubbed away some of the offending gray.

For the third stage, I tried to cover as much of the yellow as I could. I thought that this layer, now underlying the pink and red I was applying would lend some more depth to the painting.

Here is the third stage:

Watercolor Sketch - Pink Flower Third Stage

Pink Flower Stage 3
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Joy likes it, but like me, thinks it is the wrong color. There is too much yellow coming though. I’m going to have to think about this a while. Maybe I can fix it.

I’ll just say this: either I’m doing something terribly wrong, or it is really tough to represent a simple visual subject.  I have not forgotten that Paul Klee says that art does not represent the visible, but rather makes visible. It seems I’m taking a break from trying to make my inner self visible – I’ve struggled with that for a while. At least in representing the visible, one has the advantage of being able to check one’s self against reality. In making visible, how does one know that he’s getting it right? It reminds me of a Woody Allen film in which he cheated on his metaphysics exam by looking into the soul of the boy next to him.

If only…

2 thoughts on “Trying Hard to be Simple

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