I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what’s the secret feature of this new piece. So here it is:
I planned this piece to work both landscape and portrait. The figure lying down and the foliage in one axis, and the sleeping animals all the other. The juxtaposition represents the balance between dreams and reality. Under Milkwood is all about seeing things that only exist in dreams. I wanted this piece to capture some of the magic of dreams.
After some brainstorming I felt that I can imagine my figure lying in a bed of flowers but the question remained, how does this relate to the painting, to the story? I realised that this piece is more about forging your own path and following your dreams and desires. It is so different than the underlying themes of my previous gasmask paintings than I wonder if that’s why the design process has been long and continually developing. Taking the time to explore where an idea has come from and what it may mean, before starting to paint, may actually be a lot more important to the process than perhaps I had ever realised.
So with the meaning loosely bouncing around I came to the decision that if I painted the bed of flowers as handmade entities in their own right, it would cement the themes a lot better than any other background/foreground I could add. The question of how to make flowers look man-made was a slightly different challenge but after searching around art and crafts methods I eventually decided that fabric flowers adorned with beads and buttons could be the quickest and most effective way of achieving this effect. It also gave me the chance to extend my colour theme and add more of the contrast colour which is playing around the canvas. A shot of blue against the soft red gives the sharp edge to this otherwise calm colour scheme.
I’m very excited to have just finished my third YouTube Ardent Shadows for my new painting ‘The Bees Made Honey’. Please head over and give it a thumbs-up. I’d love to get some feedback on these videos!
This piece has been a bit of adventure. It’s a little smaller than my usual pieces being approx 12 x 16 inches and started as a way of painting with a different colour palette and a different approaching limited colour schemes. I really wanted to do something a little less planned and a bit more instinctive. Accepting that the bees and honey would always look best when painted golden yellow, I felt that the skin could be any tone or colour way. The only other decision I’d made ahead of setting up that first palette was the decision to have a solid black background which the face and hands would dissappear back into. I wanted to ensure this piece felt a little uncomfortable, and empty darkness lends itself well to unnerving the audience.
I decided that I wanted to hinge the scheme around the use of Buff Titanium and Pale Violet and chose not to plan the rest of the scheme but instead, to mix as I painted, allowing the colours to essentially choose themselves. I really loved the interaction between these two paints. I left open sections of each colour unblended and allowed them to describe areas of highlight and shade. Each owning it’s individual values. This was a really pleasing approach and something I would like to use in future paintings. The main stumbling point I found in not have a planned palette was in the shadows. Particularly when I was adding the finishing touches such as the shadows underneath the bees. At first it felt like they should be warm toned perhaps matching that found on the skin of the hands, but after inspection is appeared that a cooler brown looked much more realistic.
It’s also been interesting to push fantasy toward abstract with the honeycomb. I would usually paint this sort of detail to appear as a tattoo or a pattern on the skin itself. But it’s been fun to leave it open to interpretation this time. I intend to continue pushing forward with this as I find it very difficult not to tackle every idea in terms of ‘how would that work’. Although in my usual fashion I did research some bees and used the UK buff-tailed bumblebee for my reference.
So without further ado please use the following or click on the picture to view this short video and watch me paint these lovely bees. I’m also going to be posting on the blog later this week regarding the inspiration for this piece. The song used in the video is Earth’s ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, which had a lot more to do with this painting than you might think!