Lemon Lily and Lupine, approx 6"x 9", acrylic on paper.
I've been staring at a vase of flowers for several days - it had the aforementioned two types of flowers in it but also some ornamental clover on thin red stalks, and some bright green peony leaves. I couldn't take my eyes off the combination of that intense red and green, for which the lemon-yellow lily and purple lupine seemed like perfect foils. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but yesterday I picked a similar bouquet at the garden and took it up to the studio. The light there was very different, much more diffuse and softer, and the colors didn't have the same jolt, but when I viewed the bouquet from above, I saw more possibilities. So I decided to try to simplify it within a fairly abstract setting, and this was the result. I started with the "chair" on which the flowers were resting - my original intention was for it to be dark, with this reddish-brown underpainting, but I liked the color and everything else sort of evolved from there.
The reason I mentioned "via negativa" is that the process seemed so subtractive. During the painting I simplified the leaves a great deal and painted the lupines with a sort of shorthand. That was only possible because of the previous, detailed drawings I had done, during which the forms had become kind of imprinted in my head. It fascinates me how "line" becomes "form;" there's some sort of subtle shift in the brain that allows all that detail to be distilled and reduced to its essence.
By the same token, while I'm still far from feeling really comfortable with acrylics, all the paintings over the past few weeks helped me in this one. It's very different for me to work with opaque media (except for oils, whose unique challenges and advantages do not include working quickly in layers) -- and I'm finding that it opens up a lot of possibilities.
Anyway, I hope to be able to build on what happened here.