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Windowsill Orchids

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I started this painting in June 2017, and due to my extremely busy schedule was unable to finish it until last week! This is taken from my kitchen windowsill, the view I have whilst I wash up! My orchids sit there proudly, bursting into glorious bloom every couple of months, and I also look fondly at the postcard of Braque's 'Bird, Blue and Grey' which I have had since visiting an exhibition during my days as an A-level art student. Alongside that is a the hand cream I keep nearby but in reality my windowsill is much longer than depicted here - I decided not to include the whole windowsill in order to make the composition more compact and focused.
For this painting I was looking to create an impression rather than a tightly realistic rendition and was keen to experiment with dripping watercolours and loose washes, working with a fresh and spontaneous approach, hence the rather rough initial stages. This is quite risky with an unforgiving medium like watercolour, and it meant I was relying quite heavily on the white gouache at the later stages. I regretted somewhat at that point not having the brightness of the paper for the highlights, but after all this was a sacrifice I was happy to make in order to work in this loose way with watercolour.
I took some photos as I worked:
Windowsill Orchids step 1

I was primarily interested in the lovely arc of the pink orchids over the yellow, and so began with that, making the washes particularly watery to create the drips

Windowsill Orchids step 2

Here I roughed in the rest of the composition with loose washes

Windowsill Orchids step 3

I began strengthening the colours

Windowsill Orchids step 4

I continued strengthening the colours and tone, and added detail on the orchids

Windowsill Orchids step 5

I used gouache to pick out the highlights on the orchids and I darkened some of the tones around them to create emphasis. I added some splattering around the objects to enhance the sense of energy. At this stage I thought I was finished but when I came back to the painting at a later date I decided the pots needed more definition and stronger contrast. I also tightened up some of the drawing, added stronger tone to the leaves and stalks and defined the frame more. I darkened the cast shadows of the pots as well as the shadow on the underside of the ledge.