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