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An Empty Studio... An Exciting Time... - Part 2

This blog is a continuation of November’s blog, where I was discussing my favourite part of creativity when the studio is empty, and I start to brainstorm new ideas. This blog is about one idea specifically and how it has evolved over a year or more.

I am currently working on painting number three of the Secrets of Nature series. This is about the role of man within nature, more specifically that humankind needs to begin to see itself as a part of nature, just one more omnivore within an ecosystem. Just another species that could find itself threatened with extinction. I believe that if we viewed ourselves like this, we would be more considerate of the landscape around us and reduce our exploitation and pollution of it (for more details please see my previous blogs). This blog is not about the concept behind this painting, but the practicalities of how I am starting to go about creating the painting. This blog is intended for those who would like a closer insight on how I create my compositions and for students to understand the creative process an artist goes through.

Over a year ago I started a series of research with my life model where I combine the human form with other forms from nature, specifically flowers. Secrets of Nature combined a man with an iris, and Secrets of Nature #2 combines a man’s torso with a sunflower. The third in the series will be hands that replace sepals of corncockles in a painting of undergrowth. These human forms are not meant to be obvious, I enjoy working with camouflage. I want viewers of my artworks to have to take time to explore and read the image. Some observers do not see the people in Secrets of Nature 1 & 2 straight away, they need to study the painting to find the human form.

I had the idea of replacing hands and fingers for the sepals a while ago, but at first, I had imagined that these tall stemmed flowers would be waving in the wind against the backdrop of a landscape. I have since changed my mind regarding this because I don’t want the hands to be too obvious, I want the painting to be subtle. My initial ideas can be seen below:

flower hands drawing

As I am currently developing ideas, I have now begun working on this idea again and to make the hands less obvious, I will be surrounding the corncockles with undergrowth. The sketch below is A5 size and took me 4 hours to complete, but as you will see the hands as sepals look “stuck on” and not part of the flower. This is because it is a sketch about composition rather than accuracy.

undergrowth pen and ink drawing

I now have to work on getting the hands drawn accurately so that they can be believably a part of a flower. I liked my original drawings above; however, they were not accurate to how a hand would really grow and hold a flower (if it could!).


drawing hands pencil flower hand sketch

As you can see this painting has taken over a year to develop, and now it is in the refining stages, but I still have several weeks of visual research to do in order to have an accurate and fundamental understanding of the structure and how the hands can realistically hold the flower. Each and every painting has a similar amount of research before brush is put to canvas or board. When I sit and draw and paint in front of students or an audience for a demonstration or lesson, I am told how easy I make it look or how talented I am that I can capture the subject so accurately and quickly. This is because I have studied my subject for hours; I understand its structure, forms, growth patterns and in the case of plants, I have studied botany on a molecular level. It is the experience that makes it look easy. Each and every student and early career artist can achieve this, it is the time and dedication that is put into the subject and research before every painting. For every customer or potential customer that walks into a gallery and queries the high price of a painting because it does not look as though it took long to paint, this is what they are buying. The experience, passion and life-long dedication of an artist to their body of work, just as the commercial sector will pay a director or manager more because of their knowledge and experience, so to is a customer for an artist’s art work. This is not the only thing that affects the price of painting, it is also the popularity and demand of the work of a specific artist, just as any other products have in the market place.

To find out more about Secrets of Nature, read more here, follow the development of my art works by signing up to my newsletter here. Several paintings are now being purchased before they are finished, so if you are interested in this piece, please email me for first refusal…


December 2018


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