Field of Poppies

Yesterday’s post was about the differences between portraying one object of interest, such as a piece of fruit or a flower, versus a collection of subjects. A single flower has so many intricate and beautiful parts – all pre-designed. An artist ‘merely’ has to express with visual elements, how he or she is changed by seeing it. As the great Paul Klee said, “Art does not reproduce the visible, but rather, makes visible.”

Today’s experiment

I thought a lot about those poppies from yesterday and decided that my project for today would be a field of poppies.

The other day, I quoted Klee’s metaphorical description of creativity (repeated here for clarity):

  1. “Let the active force be the soil in which the seed opens: the complex: soil, seed, nourishment, growth, roots, which produce the form.
  2. Rising into the light and open air the breathing organs form: one or two tiny leaves, and then more leaves and more leaves.
  3. Result, the flower. The plant is full grown.”

(Paul Klee Notebooks, edited by Jürg Spiller. Volume II: The Nature of Nature, translated from the German by Heinz Norden (454 pages). Overlook Press 1973)

Today, I took this metaphor literally in the design of my field of poppies. I thought I would plant the poppies (pun intended) in the middle of the page  with the ground below and the sky above.

Implementation of the design

Since I envisioned my field of poppies as a field of California poppies, I thought I would be able to attain the appropriate coloration through the use of yellows and reds, as I have done before.

Stage 1:

I established the field with a Winsor yellow wash. I dotted in my poppies into the still-wet yellow, with nearly all the reds in my paint box.

Watercolor Sketch - Field of Poppies 1

Field of Poppies 1

So far, so good. I was sure that the orange coloration would appear after I completed the glazing.

Stage 2:

My vision included a foreground (bottom portion) of green color to represent a lawn or grass of the field and a background (top portion) to represent the sky. My field of poppies would be in between. Perfect placement, I thought.

watercolor Sketch - Field of Poppies 2

Field of Poppies 2

I used Cerulean blue for the sky. This is an opaque and grainy color that settles into the grain of the paper. I attempted to blot out some of this blue to create clouds, but this didn’t work too well.

For the foreground, I used Peacock blue. This is an opaque color, but it didn’t matter, since it was going to be the first layer. I found that if I dripped the Winsor yellow in to the wet blue, I got rather nice watery blooms of greenish color. This contrasted nicely with the darker poppy watercolor blooms in the middle section.

Stage 3:

I did a lot of work after stage 2, including several glazes.

Watercolor Sketch - Field of Poppies 4

Field of Poppies 3

I used Winsor yellow for at least two glazes. I did not glaze the top blue part with yellow. The bottom part became the green area that I had planned. The lighter blooms where I placed drops of yellow onto the wet blue did not survive the glazing very well.

I did not glaze the top part with yellow but tried several different blues. I did not want to darken it significantly. I used Manganese Blue Hue at first.

Final Stage:

To complete this sketch, I used Prussian blue to glaze over the bottom field. Then, I used my lemon yellow to glaze the middle and bottom sections. I glazed the sky portion with Manganese Blue Deep (Holland).

Here is the final result:

Watercolor Sketch - Field of Poppies Final

Field of Poppies
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Glazing – I learned a lot about glazing by doing this study. I thought that one should flood the area in need of glazing with water and float the glazing color on top. I found that if I used a very wide brush (2.5 – 3 inches), I could apply my wash directly to the dried surface. However – important – after each pass with the brush, I had to make certain I cleaned the brush, since it invariably picked up some of the color from the surface of the paper.

Design – On page 65 of Paul Klee’s work cited above, he mentioned a relationship between Luft und Erde (Sky and Earth) – the Vegetational-analytical. I did not read that part thoroughly, as I do not have the four zones he speaks of. The relationship between sky and earth in my study is not obvious. What I really have portrayed is a profile view of the sky and the ground, and an aerial view of a field of poppies.

Many of you are fellow bloggers, and I’m sure that now and then you check to see from which countries your viewers are located. I love those little flag icons. It would seem that my study would make a beautiful flag for Poppystan or other fictitious country.

I love the idea of the change in vantage points (from the horizons of the ground and sky to the aerial view of the middle of the paper). I would love it even more if I didn’t keep seeing the Poppystan flag when I look at this study.

11 thoughts on “Field of Poppies

  1. Yesterday and today look like a breakthrough to me. As a gardener, earth and sky seem well honored, not to mention the bounty in-between. I Googled Poppystan. There is chatter at their Embassy about the flag.

    Liked by 1 person

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