"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Snail Shell Bees: Days 4 and 5. Finishing stages and a word about my paints.

The last stages of a painting can be the most nerve racking and the most rewarding. Will I overwork it? Will I drop paint, tea or coffee on it. Will it look anything at all as I had hoped?
I had decided right at the start to add some colour to the main snail shell and the pine needles. I wanted a little more colour in this painting to help unite everything,  but without cluttering the image with too much detail.

Unfortunately I did forget to take step by step photos of this stage. ( just when my friend John had congratulated me on remembering!!). When I work, I put the radio on and listen to plays, discussions, poetry, book reviews and news etc etc and tend to get engrossed in both the work and what I am listening to and forget to get the camera out.

stage3

It took me two more days to finish the painting. I worked over many areas of the pencil  to iron out any wobbles and keep the tones balanced. I painted the shell lightly, worked on the twigs and leaves and added the little boat sailing by the Needles.

shell1

Then strengthened the shell colour again and some more of the pencil work.

bg2

Here it is about finished. It all looks rather too dark and contrasty  compared with the original, in reality it is softer, but this gives you an idea. Pencil work is very hard to either photograph or scan.

final bg

The Snail Shell Bees, Osmia bicocolour and the Needles.
Watercolour and Pencil on Fabriano Artistico HP. 12.5 inches x 14.5 inches

Was I pleased?… Yes, thankfully,I was. It’s no fun to work on something for a week and then hate it! But, believe me, sometimes it does happen.  But I have become very involved with these two bees and their little world and will be sad to see them go.

I always put a piece away for a few days before sending it off to its new home. Niggles will disappear and glaring errors may become more apparent but there does come a point at which you have to stop! As I write this the painting is in the post!

Seeing the Snail Shell Bees in real life

I would so like to see these wonderful little bees in real life. I have of course watched the wonderful films on the Internet which I spoke about in my previous posts.  I know they are not common or perhaps are under recorded but to my delight I recently found a couple of reports of sightings not too far away from here. One further north near Peterborough from April this year on Mollyblobs blog here  and another one in Bedfordshire by Keith Balmer on Bedfords Fauna and Flora Blog here with a wonderful photo of the female bee flying with a twig. Thanks to you both for posting about them.

This gives me hope and next year I may be lucky!

A quick word about my Graham Paints.

I am about to write a small piece about my bee paintings for the good people at Graham Paints in America. I started using their gorgeous rich and creamy watercolours when I was in the USA.  I painted my first set of bees for Deborah with them and  all my “Buzz” bees for the exhibition.

graham paints 

Not only are they rich but they have a slight sheen to them when they are applied thickly. I do use quite thick paint and like to push it around quite a bit even on a small scale and I like the sheen. About half way through Deborah’s commission I was reading a bit more about them and discovered this:….
from M Graham’s Website:

“Our watercolor is created with exceptional amounts of pigment in a time honored binding medium of pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey
Why Honey?
As an essential ingredient in our binding medium, honey contributes to moistness for smooth, easily controlled applications, increased pigment concentrations and freedom from reliance on preservatives. Because of the honey medium, our color resists hardening on the palette, or in the tube. It dilutes easily, often after months of disuse.!

… and it’s all true. It seems a poetic coincidence that I am painting bees with blackberry honey paints! …  :)

They are wonderful paints… more on this in a separate post.

11 comments:

Jo Miller said...

Absolutely gorgeous! And thanks for the info on Graham Paints. I have not tried them but will in the future.

Elephant's Eye said...

Your finished picture makes me sigh with delight. And using honey to preserve the quality of your paint - is just right.

Sarah Melling said...

Simply gorgeous. Even though I don't paint, I thoroughly enjoyed your descriptions of the stages you went through. What a lovely piece!

Helen said...

Just beautiful work, Val.

John said...

Wow, Val. This is absolutely stunning! You really gave us plenty of images! :-) Thank you for sharing such a lovely behind the scenes view.

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you all so very much my faithful blog readers..
You keep me going! Are you bored with bees yet??? :)

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Bored with bees? Never! It really has been wonderful to see this piece come together. I loved the initial sketch in your earlier posts, but your last image of the bees, and the shell, is simply exquisite. That they're painted with blackberry honey paints is just perfect!

Elva Paulson said...

What a wonderful series on your snail shell bees. I've been toying with painting a careful study of a bee mimic ..... your beautiful work inspires me to really do it.

Jane said...

What a beautiful painting! I had a female Osmia bicolor in the garden this year. What a complete treat that was. I watched it for 4 days roosting on a newly planted pulmonaria. Your painting has captured it! Magic! http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewatched/5561850051/

sharp green pencil said...

Thanks Jane and Elva
As usual Jane your photos are wonderful!... and Elva.. yes go for it! Draw that bee mimic. I have not got round to the bee mimics yet but they really deserve some close attention. Some are very beautiful. Let me know how you get on!

greenman said...

It looks amazing!!
Thak you for sharing your gift!