On my last list one of the things was to paint a picture and I crossed it off after I attended an art journaling workshop and completed a canvas, of which I was very proud. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that art journaling is mixed media – part paint, part collage, part stamping – and I really wanted to do something that was just me, a paintbrush and some paint. So when artist Anna Watkins advertised her painting workshop on Twitter and my lovely friend Andrea bought me a place, I knew I was destined to fulfil this challenge. (OK the challenge was on the list partly because I knew I was going on the course, but hey ho!)
So yesterday I, the girl told not to do O Level Art as it would be a waste of an option, went along to learn how to paint flowers. There were two of us on the course and as non-artists we were both nervous about the day. We needn't have been though, because Anna took us through the techniques we needed in a very gentle and supportive way, and knew exactly when to help and when to step back and assist – and it was a productive, relaxing and above all enjoyable day.
The first step was to choose our colour scheme for the background. We chose a selection of paints and messed around on paper for a while, testing them out. Once I'd chosen the ones I liked we were set loose on our canvases. It seemed like an awful lot of white space to fill, but within no time I had a background I was more than happy with.
Next we used some circle templates to mark the position of our flowers. Anna had an allium painting on display and I really liked the composition of it so followed it fairly closely, marking in the position of my five flowers. Then we learnt how to stipple, and added a background to the flowers.
The next stage involved a very technical tool – a torn up cereal box! We used pieces of cardboard, dipped in paint, to mark our stippled circles, first finding the centre, then adding more lines at the stems/stamens of our flowers.
We then added stems. This was really scary because I loved the look of my painting so far and really didn't want to ruin it by adding wonky stems! After a deep breath I went for it, but the blue paint I'd chosen didn't look quite right so I went over them with deep purple, and was pretty pleased with the result.
At this stage lunch arrived. Anna had arranged with Aylesbury cook Nita to bring in some Indian delights and we had a pea and auberge curry, Bombay potato, pakora, chapatis and a raita. I hate peas but thought the curry was delicious – in fact all the food was lovely and I had thirds!
Back to the painting, and now we needed to add the petals. This looked completely daunting but Anna showed us a few ways to make the most of the brushes to add the right shapes, and once I got started there was no stopping me! I loved the randomness of this part of the project – I was using dark blue, dark purple, mauve, light blue and white paints and every petal had its own unique pattern and combination of colours.
Next I added some dots and grass stems to give the painting some movement. By now I felt really confident about what I was doing and I found it easiest turning the painting upside down and just adding the marks where I felt they belonged. By not seeing what the painting actually looked like I just went on instinct and when I looked at it the right way up I was really impressed.
The final stage was to add some detail in a silver textured paint. Anna thought we'd probably have to finish this task at home but once I got started I really went with the flow and managed to get all the petals outlined quickly. Ok, they probably aren't as neat as they could be, but they are mine and I'm happy with then. The final step was to add more grass to the bottom half of the painting and again I turned it upside down and just did what felt right.
I'm absolutely thrilled with the finished thing – for someone who claims not to be artistic I can't really believe I created such a beautiful work of art with nothing but a few brushes and some paint! I can highly recommend Anna's workshops to anyone wanting to discover their creative self. She works from a studio in her garden and it's a warm, calm and comfortable place to work. Anna herself is knowledgeable, supportive and friendly and the entire day was a lovely way to spend a Saturday. Have a look her website to find out more about her work and the workshops she runs.
And here's the completed painting – my pride and joy – hanging up in the hall!