Jacaranda Painting – A Major Work in Watercolour – 60x80cms – SOLD
I am excited.
Well, I always say you should be 80% confident with a subject selection and 20% unnerved about the challenge in some way to keep you growing as an artist, and I stand by that theory here at the beginning of my new major work undertaking, a large Jacaranda painting in watercolour. Theres no doubt that this is an especially challenging subject and in such a significant size, it will take some months of steady work to bring to life. The 20% terrified? Well that no longer lies in my ability to perform but in the toll i know it will take on my body to complete it… doesnt that sound juuuuuuust like me though!?
Yes, the physical, mental and emotional fortitude needed for this very special jacaranda painting will be very real, but well worth the effort too. Of this I have every confidence. This original jacaranda painting was inspired by the last spectacular jacaranda flowering season which swept through NSW like a reliably heady dream, sparking endless purple dreams in the hearts and minds of my wonderful clients. When they came to me to discuss the outrageous beauty of the jacaranda in all its depths and details, I needed no convincing. My heart and mind a long term resident of such beauty, my life has simply followed, and what a joy that space is.
We all remember those days when the jacaranda is in flower, its exceptional beauty spilling its colour so abundant into the landscape that the very air we breath appears mauve and sweet to the lungs, spirit and soul. Recollections of earth showered mauve like satin beneath our feet as the flowers scatter to the ground like carpet. It is a deeply sentimental thought, the jacaranda, for so many of us I know. Certainly it is to me. From the start, I loved the conversation, the clients, the subject, the challenge, the brief, the vision, the objectives. The primary objective simply to capture the incredible beauty of the jacaranda tree in full bloom, flowers cascading on laden boughs in all its glory… Really, they had me at ‘jacaranda’.
Blissfully, I was the artist chosen for the project and I was confidently handed a lose brief to interpret and develop in ‘any way I felt fitting’. It is not a small thought in my mind, it is a grand one in every way and the painting must reflect the nature, intricacy, beauty and emotions of this remarkable tree as it deserves. Naturally, my clients agree. Aside from the inevitable 20% which lies ahead in this challenge, its a dream come true for me to work on such a vision with, and with such visionaries again of course.
Its an exciting painting and project and I am very much looking forward to bringing this major work to life in the coming months. Beyond my hands, this jacaranda painting is set for a far larger journey which will continue to unfold in time from today, in many exciting ways. With my schedule now cleared for this very special project, I am ready to begin on my purple dreaming challenge. I look forward to sharing it with you all as it emerges, white paper transforming into a limitless story of jacaranda beauty.
I am very grateful as always to my friend and wonderful photographer Phillip Start of Philshar Photography for helping me out with the beautiful wren references for this painting. ‘Its open permission for YOU to use any of my images Heidi, anything on here or our Philshar page i would feel honoured… Love your work’ Gratitude to you once again Phillip, thank you. I look forward to bringing these little sweeties to life in this painting too!
On the left we have a little bit of ‘playing with my colours’, even introducing a couple of new tubes to play with as well… its so rare that happens but yum! You can also see the beginning of the drawing process, a looooong process it is indeed. This is an especially intricate subject, especially capturing it in early bud, exposing every tiny stalk and evolving flower of the jacaranda in season. With many days work going on behind the scenes on this already, it is pleasing to finally step into the physical painting.
I work in blocks of about 3 hours at a time with small breaks between to keep the toll on my hands to a minimum where I can. Really theres no avoiding it, but Im traveling well, coming to be intimately familiar with this piece with every mark made. Each is a measured, considered, precise step forwards.
Below we have a very rough layout of the overall piece, just to give you an idea of the general direction starting out. Amongst the cascade of jacaranda flowers I am going to include two super sweet blue wrens into the composition. These are quite secondary to the jacaranda feature but they bring a critical element of interest, atmosphere and emotion to the story.
For now, its drawing time. Ill see you back here in a few days time… let the work begin!
Gosh, days and nights spent steadily working and just a small (but steady) amount of progress to show for it… Its another crazy challenge for sure! Still, I am happy with my colours and the balance of everything as I get even more acquainted with my subject and familiarise myself with the palette nicely now too. Even if youve done it before, it takes time to slot into the creative ‘recipe’ and flow of a new piece… And so, as is the case with all my work and certainly these major works, Ill be here for quite some time to come yet! And slowly she grows… Its coming on beautifully, shifting delicately amongst my purple haze palette. As we all battle the current world coronavirus crisis, me locked away in my studio as usual, i bring a little more progress for you to enjoy.
Its so hard to capture the right colour in this post but I snapped a few quick studio shots with my phone as I worked today to share the progress with in any case. My backside is sore, my back is sore, my hands are sore from the long days and nights spent bringing this epic painting to life. Im enjoying seeing it grow though, all be it a snails pace, each day my efforts reward me well and soon it will be another story out into the world to bring so many new rewards in its story. I feel that by the time this piece is finished in some months time, the world will be in great need of some beauty, joy and nourishment, so it seems that my time here spent in solitude in the current state of things around us, is being as well used as it can be. I shall return with new updates on this soon… Sending love to you all x
Moving on to a new section of my jacaranda painting, I shuffle my set up around and resettle into the new groove on the opposite side of the painting. Being so large, it takes some time to adjust, oddly. Its the same subject but a shift or interruption of your groove, so as you turn the painting, you must also adjust your brain to the new light source direction and rhythm of the section in general. Its quite a severance of flow in fact. At this stage you must also be more mindful of how the paintings balance is going overall too, ensuring that there is a connection, harmony and consistency in the language of all elements.
Interestingly at this point, you also start to see a marked improvement in the slickness and confidence of the the new work as it comes full circle and meets the original starting point. Subtle adjustments and refinements are made to tie it all in seamlessly, colour recipes are checked for consistency, creating diversity within the sameness becomes critical as the bigger picture begins to emerge. More of the same yet delightfully unique, I love the two new clusters of jacaranda flowers. Its hard to see here in a way that serves any justice, but in real life, its so luxurious and beautiful you could almost smell them… Another little update for you all.
Moving to the next section, i have spent days and nights tackling the clusters of flowers on the bottom right side. It is a delicious tangle of purples, a complex palette of colour, texture and tone to navigate, paying endless attention to every detail as I go. I feel like it has a freshness, a richness and a luxuriousness about it now as I wanted to achieve of course, but seeing one cluster connecting to the next as it grows feels very satisfying. This area was definitely difficult! But the purple is complete and its time to tackle the next session of drawing as I move into the top half of this jacaranda painting.
Drifting back to the top left section, the jacaranda painting continues, every day bringing more beautiful familiarity and connection with my subject… It’s more of the same for now, and will be for a while yet… something we are all very familiar with these day! Thank goodness for creative pursuits in such challenging times. Jacaranda, my current stillness. Today is grey wet morning in lockdowns, a perfect time for the studio. I shall be back with more on this soon. Stay safe everyone x
On the left you can see the entire piece with all my working equipment laid out through the middle of the canvas as I go. On the right you can see a snapshot of the top left area of the painting, slowly, slowly filling up with a purple haze of jacaranda flowers. At this stage they will look beautiful in colour and atmosphere, but they will appear to be somewhat lost or nondescript in their meaning, lost amongst the sameness of the flowering abundance. Soon though this will change.
The new element of the stems will bring new meaning, structure and cohesion to the current generic mauve mass. This is a stage that requires great mental and emotional discipline as we continue in a holding pattern of repetition for days and weeks on end, never allowing your mind, thoughts, energy, attention or focus to sway. Complacency of heart and mind becomes the language of your painting, so you must approach the work with fresh, open and attentive hearts and minds every sitting, no matter the length of the haul. Remembering its beauty makes it an easier feat. Today I continue working into the top right corner, a new section and the final stretch of the mauve flower elements. So close yet still so far away to completion…
The top right corner, back along the right side sees a cluster of jacaranda flowers complete which supports the female jenny wren perched amongst the flowers. Sugar snap peas emerge from my new garden plot and I enjoy a daily ritual of herbal tea in my lavender pot and mug. Home life, its got its appeal!
Its all about life in purple at the minute, a spiritual time perhaps? As we all find new rhythm in the sameness of these global lockdowns, these are indeed strange times for us all. Interesting to see this week though, people returning to a slower more serene pace on some level, spending time at home, in the kitchen, studios, gardens and so many creative pursuits! As youve no doubt seen, sentiments along the lines of ‘it is in times like these we remember the value of creativity and the arts’, and I couldnt agree more. It is such sustenance for our hearts and souls, such positive food for our minds and so important to out well being and balance.
Ive seen fresh bread and hot cross buns rolling out of ovens, pies, cakes and kitchen creations, new and revived garden plots so long forgotten and overgrown, now bringing new life, interest and soon enough fresh food to our worlds. Ive seen many picking up instruments again, left dormant for decades and I sit outside by my own newly created garden plots in the sun, sipping camomile tea from my beautiful Ashdene teapot and mug (which IS now available, yaye!) listening to my neighbour pouring out rusty tunes, a sweet melody though one that still fractures the peace of a motionless, solo easter weekend in the best way. New paintings are emerging, new students getting onto or back to my painting tutorials to continue learning in the opportunity at hand. I know we fear change but change is constant and in my experience brings plenty to celebrate with it.
Certainly creating is renewing. For me it has remained my focus, barely leaving my studio as usual, days turning to nights in the blink of an eye, the purple haze growing with each day passing. As I say, so much of a person, time, a place in time is captured in our work, especially when its months of investment as in the case of my major works. Of course we tie so much of who we are into a creating painting like this, each like a bookmark on the timeline of my life.
I am very pleased with the progress of my Jacaranda painting so far. I am very much in the rhythm and language of the palette and subject now. As I work across the top right corner of the painting I drift back along the right edge to almost meet my starting point at last! Still, there are several large clusters of jacaranda flowers to render, but it wont be long now before Im able to shift into a new balance and element. As I revisit the midline and fill a few more spaces of white paper, I can now start to take in the jacaranda flowers en masse along the bottom in its entirety, and it feels pretty damn satisfying to be honest. And so I return for the final clusters of flowers and a close to this purple chapter.
Take a closer look at the time lapse clip of the flowers in progress over on my YouTube Channel
At last the purple of the flowers comes to a close, a truly epic amount of work, but a very pleasing result for my efforts so far I feel. I am pleased with the colour, look, feel and texture of the flowers and I feel like Ive achieved that sense of cascading abundance that I was trying to convey. Some say my work is too complex, but it is just telling the story as nature presents it to us. What I love about the jacaranda tree is all of these things so naturally, I want this same nature and beauty to be my story too. After all, it is the task of a natural history painter, to interpret natures work. For me it needs to be in as much of that glory, complexity, magic and wonder as possible.
With a change of palette comes a whole new face to my jacaranda painting… Its exciting! After so many weeks working non stop on the purple the shift also brings new energy to my mind and spirits, the enthusiasm for the story leaping forward with the progress. Flower cluster by flower cluster I construct the tangle of tiny stems and stalks now, equally as complex and challenging as any element of my works.
Earthy olive combined with zingy fresh greens, sienna and pink touches weaving in and out with the branches, and suddenly the bloom of anonymous purple takes on new structure, interest and cohesion. The daunting task of purple simply becomes the daunting task of green… and a task it surely is, but its so exciting to see it come alive! Ill be some time lost in this stage now, sweeping my way down the right side, along the bottom and around like clockwork to complete this chapter with tiny brushes and growing blisters on my hand. Ill be back with a new update soon… enjoy!
Working my way along the bottom edge of my Jacaranda painting, getting some good callous on my hand now… but the painting is looking great
Working my way up the left edge, the branches continue to evolve. With it comes so many new dimensions, depth and interest to this jacaranda painting. The long hours staring at it become a thrill seeing each section unfolding. I love the colours of the jacaranda branches, a diverse palette in fact from blues to purples greys, rust, ochre and a range of greens through aged gnarly old wood to the speckled textures of the fresh shoots. This piece explores the many stages of ageing in the stem elements of this plant alone. Each completed section of stems brings a wholeness to the flower clusters. One by one, with many hours labouring in each bunch, they take shape. Of course… there are many more to go! I hope youll enjoy this little update. I like this image because it shows the contrast before and after the stems are added, the far left bunch of jacaranda flowers being next in line.
Details details… details! What a difference the colour shift makes. I knew it would of course, but its exciting to see it happening before my eyes. It is invigorating and renewing to my energy and focus in this beautiful marathon too. It has been a busy week, somehow! I spent it in in the studio of course, working my way around my jacaranda painting to render a million tiny stems and stalks, stopping occasionally to battle a yard overgrown with morning glory and neglect from my workload and absence from home till now, even celebrating my birthday in solo isolation as the world splutters around me, at least in human terms, so it proved to be quite a positive and productive week on the whole.
Above we have two images that take a closer look at the work in the stems, the first a few sections in progress, the second a single top left section of the jacaranda painting of a bough that sweeps over the little blue wrens. I still have more work to do to complete the stems element but the birds are not too far away from my focus now. Every step I take now sees more a more sections of this painting come to completion. Its too soon to see the end in sight but from the mauve haze, its definitely looming!
Stems and stalks step up to branches and boughs as I dip in and out of my palette willy nilly amongst almost every colour to create a beautiful, diverse browns for each. Drifting from sharp to soft focus areas, i continue working in layers to develop interest, richness, form and texture. Every step forwards brings an apparent move closer to completion. What an intricate tangle this element is to construct. What a change it brings, throwing dynamic diagonals broadly across the page. If you look closely on the left of the last image, you can see the male blue wren nestled upon the branch now too.
With the branches, stems and stalks complete, the entire painting leaps forwards with a new sense of cohesion and solidity, but now we develop this even further with the introduction of vibrant rich greens with the leaves. Nature always knows how to do colour, its such a wonderful combination and who am i to argue with her story! Here Im working along the left side and across the bottom edge, one complicated leaf cluster at a time. Yes, its painstaking work again.
Staying in the thrill of the evolution, I make my way through each area, not just painting the leaves in but refining the entire jacaranda painting as I weave each element together in completed sections. At the end of the leaves I will be left with just the background to render, and the birds of course, but for now i have several days work remaining in the green of the jacaranda leaves to focus on. ‘WOW!!!!!!! Jeeeeez. I can look at this for ages, it looks truly great’ my clients response, a nice close to a long studio day, week, month… forever.
Here we have a closer look at the leaves, which are not easy to create at all of course! The left side shows two leaves at different stages of development. On the right is the same leaf at the block in stage, though to completion. The balance of it will change again when the background is in, all of it eternally fiddly but beautifully satisfying to create. The last of the leaves are in at long last and my focus can finally shift gear to rendering the birds.
Here we see the lower right side of the jacaranda painting in more of its entirety, complete with the leaf elements.
Pop in to my YouTube Channel for a time lapse clip of the stems, branches and leaves coming together
Follow the link to see the wrens coming together in time lapse over on my YouTube Channel
The last few days have been focussed on the Blue Wrens, a male and female pair nestled in amongst the jacaranda flowers. The focus of this jacaranda painting and project is the tree and flowers itself, but i wanted to include a beautiful compliment to the mix, the blue wrens being an ideal choice. They are secondary to the focus, but are a delightful addition to this story of course. I mean, they always are! For me it was also important to incorporate that little bit of Oz into the tale as well, and I love them. Now we just have the background to complete this major work… a total snap lol!!
And so the long studio days and sessions continue as the lockdowns continue but start to ease a little for now at least. Spirits lift as I see my family again, enjoying the flowers of my mothers garden once more, as I also enjoy reminiscing about my days trekking to Everest exactly 2 years ago this week! Memories of freedom, travel, wild exposure, adventure and beauty that fill me so greatly at the same time as the distance occurs to me too, so opposed, strange and suffocating to my usual in a way. I am so grateful to hold the memories of such magic and adventure in these times, more now than ever. Sharing memories and field works of the Himalayas dont help to temper the desire or restlessness, yet they somehow seem to remedy the soul so well as well. How I wish I had more time, lifetimes, just to revisit the forests of the wilds with a notebook and pencil in hand! For now though, is an appreciation of what is also near and dear today and I am so blessed.
Rhododendron botanical illustrations in graphite – reminiscing my 2 year anniversary this week of my Everest Base Camp trek, my second trek through the Himalayas with pencil in hand
In other news…
My vege garden dies with the first lick of winter, just like me. Brrrr. A grub appears on my dying pea so it can die in multiple ways, reaffirming my brown thumbs but not discouraging my enthusiasm for my lockdown hobby.\
I found my sons scrapbook account of me from ‘the archives of parenting’ box to accompany one of my favourite photos of me with my mother, circa 1972
And we found some precious time to hike through the forest with our beloved puppy through the week too. After an enthusiastic dip in the mossy clear watered creek, some rightly call him a ‘platypup’ now. Such a renewing return to nature.
This week in the studio has been steady, but not the only focus… for a change. With lockdowns easing here I have finally been able to see my family, a restorative experience to my soul after so many weeks in isolation. Im sure everyone can relate about now. We are so fortunate here to be able to visit family again in some small way and as Mothers Day arrived, I did! A little time spent with my parents and brother, and another beautiful shift seeing my boys, from some kind of safe distance, lifted my spirits so enormously! Reflecting on the gift of my Mother in my life, I am simply so blessed to have this lioness for a mother. You are my best friend, my role model, my rock, so much of my courage and my light. Happy Mothers Day to my amazing mother, and to you all.
Of course my studio time continues, as it always does, finally shifting in to the huge task of rendering the background. I began in the rich lower left corner of the painting and worked my way through to the lighter top corner in fresher blues and mauves to begin with, balancing tone and colour over the entire jacaranda painting as I go. It remains a long, labour intensive process, but now all elements start to come together as one story. I shall continue on this task for some time yet, but when my brush leaves each section, it leaves in completion and that is exciting indeed.
The current focus here is working my way down the right side, weaving in and out of the jacaranda flower clusters, rendering the tiny details of background stepping through the blooms to the distance. Keeping the minute colour and tonal shifts consistent as I wind through it all is one of the many keys to this stage, but theres a lot to think about, above all, making sure the entire jacaranda painting comes together in this stage. Here we see a real fullness and luxuriousness coming into the cascades of flowers in this area, where life is now breathed into what was once, just a sheet of plain white paper… It is no longer anonymous.
Perseverance continues to render the background, creating a cloud of purple with rusty grey contrasts around the jacaranda flowers and wrens to finish this painting. Here we see the last of the white paper begging for completion, the final stages and the last haul towards signing off on this piece. Its exciting to get to this point, but its still soon to exhale or lose my pace just before the finish line. The marathon.
The final time lapse clip covers the background coming together, the final stages of this painting coming to an end
A couple of final shots on this piece, for now at least. The first is the entire jacaranda painting, the second is a closer look at the final steps of the background going in around the little blue wrens. As this painting comes to a close and we prepare to pass it on to the next exciting stage of this project, i am hearing many beautiful and important comments being made on the topic of ‘patience, discipline, love and quality’, all such important things to me in my work. Yes, my work requires all of these things in bucket loads, but as I say often, we must learn to measure in more ways than in time. Perspective is so important. With the right perspective we measure worth, experience, self satisfaction, perfecting a craft, learning, joy, beauty, and an outcome that is ultimately worth far more in so many immeasurable ways beyond the simple measure of moments paid to the process.
This jacaranda painting will leave my hands now to be passed on to its new owners temporarily. In their hands it will be developed into a range of beautiful jacaranda products for all to enjoy, but Ill share more with you on that front as it unfolds in time. It really is an exciting thing to see my work grow beyond my hands and evolve in so many ways, especially when it means so many can enjoy the work in some lovely way! Once this stage is complete, the painting will be offered for sale via an auction event, so if you are interested in the original artwork, your opportunity will come around to call it yours again. Until then, I thank you for following me along with this marathon of a painting and ask you to stay tuned for future updates on this jacaranda journey to come.
GREAT NEWS EVERYONE!!
Well, after more than 1,000 hours and so much of my heart and soul, I can finally present to you
what I believe to be one of my greatest watercolour triumphs, “Jacaranda Blooms – Blue Wrens”.
This has truly been one of the most challenging and monumental efforts I have ever put into an artwork,
and I would sincerely like to thank all of you for your words of inspiration that
helped me get through to the end.
I was commissioned for this artwork by Jacaranda Street, an emerging Australian
luxury and lifestyle brand. Focused on the beauty and joy that the Jacaranda
blooms give, delivered through the majestic works of Australian artists,
artisans and designers, the founders plan to showcase this beauty to the world.
Initially though, the opportunity now exists to purchase a hand signed,
unframed fine art print of this work, and interested parties may do so by sending an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further updates to come…Heidi