Black Cockatoo and Orange Flowering Gum

Friday, December 15, 2017 | 9:06 am | Media

Black Cockatoo and Orange Flowering Gum – 58x67cms – Watercolour

heidi willis_natural history_artist_bird_botanical_watercolour_macawThank you everyone for your sweet emails and messages of love and your expressions of actual grief about the completion of the Lecythis and Hyacinth Macaws major work last week. Having you all along on the journey was a lot of fun and as always, you made me feel far less solitary through the long weeks and months working away in my studio alone and that makes a world of difference to me… But do not fear!

The journey of Lecythis and Hyacinth Macaws is not over by any means. In fact their story is one that is just beginning and there is lots more to come in the unfolding of this piece yet to come. Best of all, with a wrap on the last, it is now a very exciting time of new beginnings and a new painting and I think you are going to love this one too.

Black Cockatoo and Orange Flowering Gum measures 58x67cms and is a natural history study in watercolour. An impromptu piece, I simply could not resist the temptation of the incredible flowering gum as the trees burst into life around me here this summer and with no need to resist at all, I have jumped straight into this painting, excited for the change in palette after all these months in pink and blue and bursting at the seams to get into it.

Of course flowering gum is an especially difficult subject to illustrate with colours so vibrant you can hardly believe your eyes, those endless delicate filaments found in the flowers and the cascading trusses of tiny flower buds and gum nuts complex enough to boggle the mind at a glance. In watercolour its close to madness… but we all know what that means!! Yes, I simply cant resist the challenge. And so it begins, the intense ‘blacks’ and vibrant orange colour of the flowering gum promise to make a particularly powerful piece and Im looking forward to creating this new showstopper ‘Black Cockatoo and Orange Flowering Gum’ and to share it with you all along the way.

orange flowering gum_botanical illustration

Here you can see the flowering gum subject better, and you can get a sense of the overall painting layout which includes an especially beautiful Black Cockatoo, his flaming red and orange tail feathers a perfect compliment to the surrounds. The tree itself was photographed by my home as the rain came down around me and a leech climbed up my leg as I worked, and the bird, an all time favourite for so many, is thanks to photographer Allan Frith. It has taken me a little time to get to it, but I am very excited to finally be getting started!

heidi willis_black cockatoo_artist

Starting with the brilliant orange flowers, work has begun layering delicate textural wash into the flower clusters to start giving them form, richness and substance on my page. Initially they look simply like nondescript orange blobs, but slowly they take shape and meaning with the refinement of each layer. They really come to life with the addition of the many tiny flowering gum buds that erupt from the masses… its particularly fiddly but satisfying work. This first image illustrates the bunch of flowering gum on the mid left side coming together.

heidi willis_flowering gum_painting_botanical

Moving on from the sea of open orange gum blossoms, I have spent this week focussing on the intricate clusters of closed flower buds. These details are complex exercises of intricate colour shifts and subtle tonal work… 1000 times over! It does become meditative if you put your mind in the right space, which you simply must do as there are many in this painting, just as the flowering gum is in real life. This image shows two sections of the buds going in, anchored to rich brown stems that brings them together them beautifully and really starts to give some meaning to the painting.

heidi willis_flowering gum_painting_botanical

The New Year is well and truly underway and I am already swamped with the promise and busyness of what lies ahead for 2018… and to start it in true form, I am already going ‘nuts’ with my gum nuts! Who knew how many colours would come into play to make a simple brown…? Its really quite remarkable, but almost my entire palette has been puddled in to make these gorgeous features pop with life, texture and interest. Though a bold statement alone, these will soon disappear into the boldness of the background amongst this rich flowering gum. Yes, its time now for the next step and a change of colour as this painting progresses. If only time passed as slow as it takes to create these details!

heidi willis_flowering gum_painting_botanical_watercolour

Long studio days have seen the leaves and background coming together, bringing cohesion to the flowers, buds, gum nuts and branches as a complete story. The painting now begins to fill with richness and atmosphere in readiness for the addition of the black cockatoo. Now we take a look at the results of this next stage…

heidi willis_flowering gum_painting_botanical copy

heidi willis_flowering gum_painting_botanical copy

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