I wanted to “show and tell” you about a recent painting of mine because it expresses the emotional connection I feel for iris.
There were gorgeous, large bearded irises in my grandmother’s garden over 50 years ago. My mother transplanted some to her garden and eventually I had them in my garden. They moved ½ way across the continent with us when we came to Nova Scotia and are blooming like never before.
I know my mom and my grandmother would have loved the yellow variety that I’ve added to the ancestral iris. And I know they would have loved the wild purple, pink and white lupins that grow like weeds here and especially at our place.
I want to show you how I painted and drew these flowers using fluid acrylics over a base of wet matt medium and I’ve made a tutorial for you about this. Enjoy!
I paint from life and in early June, the lupins and iris are in bloom here in Nova Scotia. I brought some into the studio and placed them in wine bottles so that I could have good close-up examples of the lupin in the distance. Although I prefer to paint on location, at this time of year the blackflies are biting, so I paint inside.
I started this painting applying watered-down acrylic on a primed canvas. I wanted to achieve a soft, wet in wet watercolour effect.
When that dried, I applied a thick coating of matt medium over the entire canvas and then painted into it with my fluid acrylic paints. I keep them in sealed plastic containers in a muffin tin. That way they are always ready to use.
I try to limit my palette to five colours or fewer because it creates a better colour harmony in the painting. I paint with nylon brushes and I also use a rubber-tipped scraper to draw shapes into the painting.
I dip the scraper into my paint and draw with it much like dipping a pen into ink. I like the calligraphy effects that I can get by pushing the paint away and creating a line and a texture.
If the medium gets too tacky, I moisten it with a spray of water. The water also makes the paint run which adds an interesting softening effect to the work.
As long as the medium is moist, the painting can be worked on and the scraping will reveal the colours underneath.
I love iris and I deliberately choose purple and yellow because they are complementary colours and they make the painting vibrate.
Although I have an easel, I painted this on the floor because otherwise the entire painting would drip and run if I placed it upright. That’s because I have a coating of wet matt medium on the canvas and that is the tip or secret that I am sharing with you.
I came across this quite by accident and now I almost always paint with acrylic this way. For one, it delays the drying period, which I like; but the biggest advantage is that I can create all kinds of textures and linear marks in the painting by pushing away the colour with a scraping tool and revealing the layer of colour or canvas underneath.
I bought a gorgeous yellow iris at a plant sale this spring and I wanted to make it the focal point in this painting. Unfortunately, by the time I painted this, it had finished blooming, but I used my huge purple bearded iris as reference. That’s the beauty of being the painter. You can change the colours of anything in your painting to suit your mood!
Check list for this painting:
Golden fluid acrylics
Rubber tipped scraper
Spray water bottle