After the darkest days of winter have passed, it's always a joy to see the first spring flowers emerging from the soil. I love snowdrops because they are often the first flowers to come out and I can trick myself into thinking spring has arrived!
In this blog I explain how I created my series of snowdrops paintings and some of the thoughts, processes and ideas behind them.
The snowdrops in my own garden are rather puny but my Mum has several gorgeous clumps of them growing in her back garden. I went over to her house in January to pick a few prize specimens to take home with me.
Having got them home I had great fun setting up various scenes in my home-made 'still life theatre'!
This little 'theatre' is an ordinary cardboard box with the front cut out and a hole made in the side through which you can shine a light. This sort of lighting can create some really great dramatic effects.
Snowdrops have a simple (mostly) white flower form and a delicate drooping head. They have a quiet sort of drama so I wanted to use this to create scenarios in my cardboard theatre and introduce narrative into my paintings.
I was pleased with how the simple composition with the five flowers in the centre of the square format gave this painting a very still and quiet quality. That stillness is contrasted with the dramatic lighting which adds a sense of drama.
At this point I began to feel that there was something gently musical going on so I decided to call this one 'Snowdrop quintet'. The flower heads seemed to create a wonderful sense of rhythm.
I was also very please to be able to use this beautiful little glass inkwell that I had bought from an antiques shop a couple of weeks earlier.
I often paint in squares but I wanted to break free from this format for the second painting in the series. Using a 10"x8" board I came up with an off-centre composition using two different glass bottles.
I asked people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter what they thought was happening in the painting and was impressed with the range of interesting suggestions that were made. This is the joy of creating narrative in painting - there are so many stories to tell and each person found something meaningful to them.
Here are a few of the suggestions:
"Degrees of loss and separation. Looks like evolving isolation of dementia to me."
"Two's company, three's a crowd."
"Rejection. Or shyness."
Very few people seemed to notice that the water in the bottle containing two snowdrops had very little in it, whereas the inkwell had an abundance!
Once again, the dramatic lighting lent itself to storytelling in the image.
The final painting also used an off-centre composition with the opening of the inkwell sitting on the golden ratio.
The golden ratio is a mathematical concept often used in art and also found in nature. It forms the basis of the Fibonacci sequence, seen throughout nature. You may have seen the Golden Ratio illustrated using a spiral like the one below.
The Golden Ratio (or golden section or golden mean) is the ratio of 1 to 1.618. It appears throughout nature in plants, shells and even in anatomy.
These three little original oil paintings have now been varnished. The first painting (Snowdrop Quintet) is sold and the other two paintings, 'The Dance' and 'Patience' are awaiting frames ready to be exhibited later in the year.