For Lack of a “Green Thumb”

January 18, 2010

It is only mid-January and I already need a break! My most recent attempt at “marrying” the appearance, colors, values and textures of three South African flowers was ambitious, and the limitations of painting a canvas on my living room table only increased the effort. I lack a “green thumb” both in the garden and the art studio, hence the reason I rarely paint flowers. I began my initial color sketch on January 2nd after a two day snowboarding trip in the high country to bring in the new year. Three days later (of painting that is) I spent an evening in an Art Students League studio. A large easel had never seemed as necessary before.  Its vertical work surface helped me to better unite the three separate backgrounds and values.

What better way to begin the year with yet another trip down memory lane of my recent visit to South Africa. My childhood neighbor Dagmar accompanied me on a tour of Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens one rainy morning. The gardens are world-renowned and span a large majority of the western base of Table Mountain. Only indigenous flowers such as the Protea (top left), and orange Pin Cushion Protea (top right) are cultivated, and the sculpture garden is interspersed with stone carvings by African sculptors. I photographed the third flower in my friend Sheila Chant’s garden in Plettenberg Bay.

My dull apartment lighting and flat painting surface contributed to the muted flowers in this image (left). Although they do resemble my original photographs, each flower’s varying surroundings fail to connect with the others. I patched up the Protea, brightened the pink flower’s petals, and darkened the value contrasts while at the League. I resisted the temptation of using a paintbrush versus a palette knife in my effort to capture the curvaceous appearance of the orange flower’s  petals.

At home on the fourth day, I continued painting the canvas which I placed on my microwave so that it could rest against a wall. I love the end product’s textured 3-dimensional surface. My paintings are becoming increasingly more abstract and I am excited to be taking my first abstract class with Michael Gadlin next month.

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1 Response to “For Lack of a “Green Thumb””


  1. 1 Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks January 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Glad you didn’t use the brush. The palette knife texture is lovely.


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