The first painting I wanted to tell you about is "Loretta's Spoon". Loretta is my mother-in-law and is such an amazing supporter of my artwork and this spoon is hers. I have always loved this set of spoons and this one in particular as it has her name engraved on it from hen she went off to boarding school at a scarily young age. I love the scalloped shape, the weight of it, the engraving of the name, the way it refracts light, and its sense of family history. I really wanted to use it in a painting and it has been at our place for months... but each painting never seemed quite right until I was using it one morning as I tucked into some dragon fruit and I realized I had finally found the perfect composition for it to be showcased. I quickly photographed and then sketched things into place before tucking in, and after breakfast got stuck in to get the initial layers in place while it was still fresh.
I find that by blocking in the main shapes and the shadows I can keep complicated compositions straight in my head. It is also essential to block in shadows when you are paintings blue and white china in watercolour as the colours wouldn't be stable enough to paint them in later and the colours would bleed. Especially in the humidity of a Queensland summer where it can sometimes take a few days for the watercolour paper to become nice and dry and stable. So shadows go in first, then the big shapes and a light glaze of colour, then it is time to start popping in some of the pattern.
I admit there was a bit of a break between this stage and going on with it as I was struggling with fatigue and the ever present nausea issues as we adjusted to a medication which was really was kicking my butt while we found the right dosage, and the heat was appalling, not to mention sheets of rain. I was actually getting pretty stressed about getting things done in time as the paper was damp for days and the colours running no matter what I did but then we hit on the genius idea of moving a temporary studio upstairs into the air conditioning and it was glorious. paper suddenly dried up after being wet for days, I had more energy as I was staying cool, and all of a sudden it started coming together quite quickly.
All of a sudden I had clear cool air and I spent two glorious days getting the vibrancy of the pink of the pitaya and that combination of pink and green against blue and white is one of my favourite combinations so it came together quite quickly. Barry the cat happily sat and slept beside me and the only interruption was him deciding he needed to drink some of the paint water... Blue is his favourite I must say.
Loretta's Spoon is actually one of the pieces I like best in the exhibition I must say, not just because it has that family connection, but also as it was such a challenge, it combined all my favourite colour combinations and it was so nice to be happily painting in the cool and to be able to just jump in and paint after so many interruptions that were related to both the weather and medication management. Plus the a in the name is a tiny bit smudgey because Barry the studio cat manged to drip the tiniest blip of water on it when he decided to sit on it to get my attention... a tiny contribution that could have been catastrophic, but it is kind of cute there is a part of him in it too.