Shells

It is a little while since I have posted anything about my art work, but I have been busy painting. I am intending to put a painting into an exhibition coming up in October. It has the title “From forest to foreshore”, and I was inspired by my recent get away in  Portarlington. The beach was a treasure trove for a beachcomber like me, so my painting is to be called ‘Portarlington Treasures’.

However, I have lots to learn about painting the treasures I want to include — so lots of studies. Unlike writing on the computer, there is no delete button on a lovely piece of watercolour paper. And no way to paint over it as you can with oils and acrylics. I didn’t want to be working on the final piece, panicking because I didn’t know how to go about painting seaweed or shells.

Before I start to paint something I look at it closely. Where does the light fall? Where are the shadows? Is there a hint of shadow there? Reflected light? What colours can I see?

But the most important question is what attracts me to this? I try to keep this in my mind as work.

Firstly I studied shell fragments. Scallop fishing is a big industry in Port Phillip Bay and the beach was littered with them. I did some quick studies while I was in the caravan. They helped me to realise the importance of the shadows.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

sc00a8336f01At home I set up the shells, having decided on the front and back of the two halves. Then thought about my approach.  I loved the rich colours, and the shadows. I played about with different mixes, settling on Olive Green and Windsor Red. Adding Naples Yellow at times would give me the opaque look some parts needed.

The quick study also told me that the growth lines of the shells were really important to give shape and structure.

This is the finished work.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

And the two halves

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

I was very happy with the work. (It sold within a few hours in my Etsy shop!) However, I have noted things that I have to be careful of when doing the good one. I know I haven’t really resolved the area where the ridges of the shells meet at the bottom. The shadow is not right in places; neither is the white line in on the left hand one.

Also, I wanted to try a different method, using masking fluid. More of that next time.

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About anne54

Botanic artist
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6 Responses to Shells

  1. EllaDee says:

    Looking at your paintings it occurs to me that the watercolours are a much better way of souveniring shells than keeping those found on the beach. Since childhood I have been, similar to you I believe, a beach wander and picker upper of things. For many years I’d take them home and save them. After a while I began to return my treasures. Now I still pick up, but mostly just carry my finds along the beach and replace them before I leave. Recently I’ve visted a couple of homes where glamourous shells have been sourced via retail, creating a studied casual coastal style… oh dear. I like both the work above and the shell fragments print in your Etsy shop. I would love to say they would be a perfect gift for these shell loving people, but they wouldn’t be, your artwork has far too much real style 🙂

    Like

    • anneb54 says:

      It is a compulsion to pick up things on the beach or in the bush. I wander along with my head down, absorbed in my looking! I am trying to learn to take a bag with me, as I am unable to leave them! As for buying them…..NO!! The joy is in the finding.

      Thank you for your thoughts on my art work. I agree that natural things and watercolour go hand in hand — but then I am biased! I have a cupboard full of things that may, one day, end up on a drawing. (Too little time, too much to create! 🙂 )

      Like

  2. metan says:

    I agree with EllaDee, having such a beautiful picture on the wall is much better than taking the shell home, leaving it to gather dust on a shelf.
    Your final picture is wonderful, but I loved your ‘quick study’ with the colour, pencil, and writing. With both pictures and words it is like a real slice of the day on the beach. 😀

    Like

    • anneb54 says:

      There is something very appealing about notebooks, isn’t there? I love the looseness of them. I am not a natural sketchbooker or doodler, as I get too wound up in the detail of things. However I am teaching myself to be freer — and getting inspiration from some great blogs. Sitting in the caravan really helps me, because I only have a small range of equipment.

      Hope you enjoy the weekend. Are you shovelling more dirt?

      Like

      • metan says:

        Yep, more dirt shovelling for me. Hopefully this glorious sunshine keeps going though, that will make it a far more pleasant chore.

        I am no artist (although I wish I was) but I really love seeing those notebooks people create with pieces of art, scribbles and writing all on the same page. It feels more like an insight to their mindset as they were working and I love seeing that more than just the finished product. 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Shells — the second study | Anne Lawson

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