Still vaguely reflecting on abstract art this week, it popped into my head to make a picture with a grid as the basis. I had Paul Klee’s Sinbad the Sailor picture in my head at the time, which I admire especially for the beauty of its sea-coloured grid. A print of this painting used to hang above the fireplace in my parents’ house during the 70s, so I have it quite deeply ingrained in my memory. Obviously, the outcome is not very like ‘Sinbad’, but nevertheless, it’s always interesting to understand where the idea for a picture originates.
I originally wanted to use the outline of a day lily as the subject, but when I went to find one in the garden, the last one had just expired. However, the variegated privet-type bush was doing well, and I thought that would be sufficiently structural for my experiment.
First I drew the sprig outline in pencil, and then overlaid a (non-measured) grid of squares each around 1cm in size. From the outset I thought that this picture would fade into the background rather than filling the page, so in that respect things went as expected.
I added the watercolour – three different yellow shades for the leaves, changing colour with each boundary line. I added in some cobalt blue to add a bit of interest and suggest the variegation. Seeking a complimentary palette for the background I opted for a selection of blues which I applied in varying dilution strengths. It was tricky to know when to stop with this part of the process. It seemed obvious that the darkest colours should be closest to the stem, but how far out to take the pattern? And how much white to leave? Impossible to really know. Deciding to leave the stem white seems to have been a good choice, as it provides a pleasantly smooth arc, cutting through the angular grid.
The jury is still out on whether I should erase my pencil lines or not – I’m currently thinking that they add a little something. But I reserve the right to change my mind on a whim… and I might have another go at this idea at some point, it was very interesting.