Colorful Fridays–Redless Monkey Yellow

crystal bowl pansy mix

 

“Happiness is Gamboge, ennui is grey…” Jonathan Meades

 

The most beautiful warm glowing yellows in paintings are often the result of the liberal use of the orangey yellow Gamboge.  So warm and glowing is this color that it is said to be used to dye the robes of certain Buddist monks giving the robes a rich saffron color. Gamboge is the color of the ripe wheat fields in Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel, The Elder”s 16thCentury painting of peasants at the harvest.  Gamboge is the sun on a bright afternoon in late September.

 

Gamboge was originally derived from the resin of the Garcinia tree growing in Cambodia, Thailand and other Asian countries of the region.  The resin is collected in bamboo shoots until dried when the bamboo is then cut away. The resin of the Garcinia tree is considered a controlled poison in some countries due to the cathartic (according to Britannica,”drastic catharic”) properties of the fruit. However it is frequently found in small amounts in some herbal products used for weight loss and other physical issues.  It is relatively harmless in small amounts.

 

Modern Gamboge paint is no longer made with the resin of the Garcinia tree.  Original Gamboge has a very poor lightfastness. Daniel Smith’s New Gamboge claims an excellent light fastness, “more staining than Yellow Ochre and equal in tinting ability to Raw Sienna.”  New Gamboge lacks the fugitive properties of the original. Beautiful, glowing warm yellows can be “poured” over any paintings with no worries of fading.

 

RadioLab has a podcast titled “The Perfect Yellow” that tells the story of the origins of Gamboge along with some other interesting tales of the use of this versatile yellow. RadioLabs website discusses the use of Gamboge and other colors in experiments for teaching monkeys to recognize red.  One wonders why on earth we would want to teach monkeys to see red? It’s bad enough when people see red.  Just image being overrun by rampaging monkeys seeing red!  And what if the monkeys start eating the Gamboge resin?  What a mess we will be in then!  Perhaps it is better to keep the Gamboge for paintings and leave the monkeys to their red-less vision.

 

Gamboge is the yellow of warmth and happiness in many paintings.  Its addition will add a beautiful golden glowing tint to many colors. Today’s Gamboge is free from the potentially harmful side effects of the past.  Though today’s mixes lack the poisonous resin of the Garcinia tree, you probably wouldn’t want to eat it and please keep it away from all monkeys. Otherwise you will be able to experience the “happiness of Gamboge” in any painting.

 

Some quotes from others about Gamboge:

 

Mcspiky says, “I would describe this colour as a form of mustard with little bit more zest and and vibrancy to it (trying not to be pretentious here).”

 

Ferrebeekeeper says, “Here is a gorgeous warm color for Thanksgiving week.”

 

For more on Pieter Bruegel, The Elder:  https://www.pieter-bruegel-the-elder.org

 

Gamboge can be hard to find in stores.

Link for Daniel Smith: New Gamboge

It is also carried by Dick Blick Art Supply company.  Find it here: Dick Blick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers of the Zoom

Mary's Rose
Yellow Rose by Mary Phillip

Mary Phillip, (Notions Journey), Misty Swann, Sandy McNeal, and Emily Hudgins Gibson graciously agreed to assist with my learning curve on Zoom.  This is their beautiful work. Full disclosure: they have all taken either workshops from me or other assistance with their work. However, they are each accomplished artists and I love working with them.  An online format for teaching art is a whole different animal.  These artists adapted easily.  I was amazed!

Sandy's Lily
The start on Sandy’s watercolor Lily.

Sandy McNeal is the newest member of the group.  Her usual medium is oil.  Watercolor is a new venture for her and botanical watercolor, especially. The style was unfamiliar to Sandy so hers was not as finished as the others in the 2-hour time frame but a really beautiful and delicate start.  Sandy has a natural feel for what the paint can do.  The specific paint colors for botanical painting were new to her too.  The zoom format was a challenge for me in demonstrating color use.  Sandy had no trouble picking it up!

Misty's Yellow Rose
Misty’s Yellow Rose

White flowers are Misty’s specialty.  This yellow rose was not an issue for her at all.  She was able to almost completely finish this painting in our two hour zoom.  I particularly love the center with the stamens reaching out. Her depth in the flower with the subtle use of the yellow paint is amazing. A very delicate and sweet painting. Yellow is a color easily put on too thickly.  Misty was able to control the layers of yellow to keep the rose light and airy.  During the Zoom time, I was able to follow her progress easily by her use of her phone to capture the painting as it developed.

The last artist, Emily Gibson is still working on her Lily, progress held up by a personal issue but hopefully we will soon be able to post it too!

Thanks, to these four artists, I have been able to gain a feel for the use of Zoom as an art instruction format.  The plan is to soon set up more Zoom workshops.  Sign ups will come through this site.

See ya soon and happy painting!

Zooming Botanical Painting

“All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” 
― Bob Ross

Adapting to new ways of teaching has been my focus for the past two months. Yesterday was the first Zoom workshop in Botanical watercolor. It went amazingly well. It was not as difficult as I had imagined. This could be a very good way of teaching for a number of reasons. For this first workshop, the participants were artists I had worked with previously, so their styles were all familiar.

Yellow flowers were the best option for this trial because they required fewer glazes of color. The workshop was held to a two hour format. Two people were able to completely finish their paintings except for some minor finishing touches. The other two were more than halfway to completion. For future workshops, I believe the 2 hour format is probably best but depending on the type of flower and whether or not the artists are beginners or advanced. More complicated flowers could be a series of 2 hour workshops. Beginners could be offered a series as well.

All in all, the zooming was a great platform for teaching botanical art. I am excited to set up some more. Additionally in the works, is a gallery page for workshop attendees to showcase their work here! The guide to daffodil painting will soon be available, as well.

Looking forward to this new adventure! All suggestions welcome!!

The Eden Project and Botanical Painting

For years my favorite book for teaching Botanical painting has been, Botanical Illustration Course with The Eden Project, by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan.  The ease of following the book’s guidelines, the abundant illustrations, and demonstrations have made it my go-to textbook.  Sadly, I have just found that it is no longer in print and will soon be very difficult to get.  

Barnes and Noble found two copies for me.  Amazon still has a number of them available in new, used and hardcover. British bookseller, The Book Depository also has some copies available. Get one while you still can. It’s a great book for methods and materials of botanical watercolor painting in a simplified and easy to follow format.  Currently, I am in the process of finding a substitute that will work in its place.  In the meantime, I’ll keep using it until all available copies are gone.

One of my dreams has been to visit The Eden Project in Cornwall in the U.K. with a group of botanical artists.  From all accounts it is truly a remarkable place.  The amazing story as told on the website is of the transformation of an abandoned porcelain quarry repurposed to provide habitat for an array of plants from all over the planet.  Biosphere domes shelter the plants in two basic climates: rainforest and Mediterranean.  

Along with the plant life, The Eden Project provides educational opportunities for all ages in wide ranging topics from gardening tips to university degrees in subjects such as Horticulture, Land and Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Tourism. Many recreational opportunities are also available. You can opt for a Zip wire adventure, a visit to the Myth and Folklore garden where you might encounter a fairy or two, or spend time taking in the scents from the perfume garden.  Concerts and festivals are held frequently throughout the summer months.  A trip to The Eden Project includes lots activities for the kids and even an adventure for you and your dog. 

Someday I may make it to The Eden Project.  If you are fortunate enough to go, please share your adventure with me. I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, happy painting!

A Tale of Two Roses

Rose One (no eraser)
Rose Two (with eraser)

In the ongoing process of making a better rose, at least in painting one, new tools are always being sought, tried and incorporated into the technique.  Art supply stores are the garden where new tools are harvested.  On one particular scouting expedition, I was overjoyed at what I thought would be a wonderful new tool for streamlining the under-drawing portion of the painting.

My favorite method of painting flowers is based on one of the techniques outlined in Botanical Illustration Course with The Eden Project.  In this technique, a complete pencil drawing is made that can be used as part of the layers of paint-washes speeding up the time to the finished piece.  I have experimented with different pencils and mark making applications and have come to a place where I am happy with that process.  But I still find it necessary to use a white eraser until I get the shading where I want it. (More on erasers in another post.) Occasionally, I’ll use the eraser to clean up the edges, as well.

While perusing the feast of erasers at the art supply store, my eyes hit on a battery operated power eraser complete with white eraser inserts. My heart jumped with excitement imagining faster and more productive painting.  I couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. As soon as I got home, I pulled out watercolor paper and started what would be a red rose. The eraser worked so well, I used it more.  I became almost careless with the drawing because I could clean it up so much more quickly. And then my newfound excitement began to shrink.

The first thing I noticed was the paint was pooling up and not spreading smoothly.  As it dried, I started to see splotching. As the painting progressed, it became evident that the eraser had erased large portions of the “tooth” of the paper. This particular tool would not be as useful as I thought.  It would be great in drawings not intended for painting, but would not be helpful in making an under-painting drawing.  It’s back to the drawing board to start over.

Moral to this story: there is just no substitution for good drawing.

Follow the link here for more on The Eden Project.

Get the book from The Eden Project

or from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Botanical-Illustration-Course-Eden-Project/dp/0713490748