The first in an occasional series by Green Door members
Some Thoughts on Plant Forms by Mike Healey
I have always drawn on real plants for inspiration but in the course of putting paint to canvas, changes invariably occur!
Take, for example, a painting that I am currently working on. It’s more or less finished but I am at that dangerous ‘tweaking’ stage when it is so easy to over paint your canvas – you probably know what I mean!
One evening I was walking from my sister’s house down a country lane towards Kendal when I spotted a large, thistle-type plant at the edge of a field. I had no sketchpad with me so I had to memorise its distinct form and hastily jot something down when I got home.
I usually work fast on canvas. The leaf forms were obtained with just a palette knife, applied with swift hand movements across a white canvas.
In all, it took less than twenty minutes
My chosen medium is gouache – the cheap poster paint used by school children. It’s fluid, provides intense primary colours and … well, cheap!
The pink highlights were applied with either my finger dipped in gouache of with the point of a thick brush – again working at speed.
In close-up you can see how fluid the medium is. From the start I am working on a white canvas so the uniform, deliberately ‘flat’ blue of the ‘sky’ is added afterwards. Painting in the blue background is a slow, painstaking process but I can ‘edit’ the image as I proceed, giving final shape and definition to leaves and foliage.
The ‘sun’ disk (above) is the last element to be added. Gouache gives a lovely dense (albeit, subtle pink) and appears ‘flat’ – something I like on a large canvas. In close-up you can see the texture of the canvas itself.
One unexpected ‘bonus’ is that in certain light the picture takes on a ‘three-dimensional’ appearance, with the dark shapes at the back receding into the blue sky and optically forcing the pink-tinted leaves further into the foreground
That, as they say, is the ‘luck of the game’