One subject I’m always happy to return to is rocks. Over the years my husband and I have collected stones, fossils, pebbles and miscellaneous ‘found objects’ when we’ve been out walking. Mostly they sit in little heaps unnoticed, but occasionally they trigger thoughts of different places and times.
This shallow plate was a gift from a neighbour, and it’s decorated with a beautiful iridescent glaze. It sits on the windowsill by my desk, and holds a little collection which includes a black volcanic pebble from Spain, a couple of fossils (including the one at the back on the left which is a section of plant stem), a chunk of basalt, a smooth piece of chalk, a thin slab of French limestone with small sea creatures embedded in it, and an twisted iron ring with vestiges of blue paint which came from a piece of agricultural equipment. I really enjoy the juxtaposition of these items and their colours and shapes together.
When I sat down to paint this, it was an opportunity for a really good look at natural colours and textures. Amazingly, there is huge diversity to be found even in this small collection once you look closely. I didn’t manage to quite capture the range of colour, but I did enjoy trying. I had fun with the fossilised stalk on the left, by using the end of the paintbrush to mark into the wet, painted paper to create the striations, which worked pretty well. I also spent quite a bit of time trying to get my darks dark enough, often a struggle, especially with the shadows under the stones. I think I pulled it off, and really like the curved shadows cast by the iron ring.
The section which gave me the most issues was the shadow under the plate. I was working in artificial light which cast two shadows – one hard and very blue (almost violet) one directly under the plate, and then another bigger, lighter, hard-edged shadow which had a touch of yellow in it. I laid the bright blue in and got it completely the wrong colour (didn’t do a test first, naturally), which meant I then had to lift it out somewhat and overlay it with another colour, losing the luminosity I was hoping for. Then, in my haste and desire to get a hard edge to the shadow I worked from the edge of the shadow back into the main part, and created a darker edge which wasn’t right. I lifted some of this out (as you can see) and faffed around some more, but the net result wasn’t really what I was aiming for. That whole ‘knowing when to stop’ thing is so tricky!