purple obsession…

I confess to being more than a little obsessed with dark purple tulips (often called black), especially ‘queen of the night’, at this time of year.

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips, digital photo © Mari French 2011

The lustrous silk petals of these gorgeous flowers defy comparison and it’s almost impossible to pin down the shifts within the dominant colour of the petals. No other combination of flower and colour holds for me the same fascination as I contemplate the inky blue depths of the blooms. The star-like stamen inside are tipped by velvety black anthers.

Queen of the Night, watercolour sketch detail © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night, watercolour sketch detail © Mari French 2011

I decided I’d start another tulip painting. I really enjoy creating them and – definitely a bonus – they sell well! If it turns out well it will be exhibited at one of my upcoming exhibitions.

This time I wanted to photograph the process step-by-step, as with the previous post. I initially photographed the tulips to capture them before they ‘went over’ (not to paint from!). Then I sat and sketched them in watercolour (see left – wonder if I could paint large watercolours like this!), which helps ‘fix’ them in my mind.

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

The canvas work started with a base of texture paste on canvas with a layer of crumpled and torn tissue pasted all over. This was then covered loosely with a wash of thinned ochre ink and matt medium. I then roughed in the background and leaves loosely in acrylic paint.

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

The tulip flowers themselves are sketched in loosely in watercolour pastel to help me sort out the shapes and positions, then later are blocked in with acrylic ink (I use FW inks mixed with plenty of matt medium). You can see this in the closeup detail images below. Later I will paint over the blooms in thicker acrylic paint.

As you can see, I painted over the leaf area obscuring most of it with pale creams and white with a touch of lemon yellow, this is part of my method for introducing layers of colour which show through into the final painting.

The fourth image of the work shows the image as it is so far, in situ in my studio. I’m still developing it and will update this post when it’s completed. Check back in a few days to see the end result.

(Oh and I apologise for the random layout – it’s driven me mad trying to get this post into some kind of presentable layout, WordPress doesn’t seem to give much control over the design of the post, so I’ve given up!)

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips (detail) © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips (detail) © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips (detail) © Mari French 2011

Queen of the Night tulips (detail) © Mari French 2011

6 thoughts on “purple obsession…

  1. Oh how I love these too! Mine got sadly battered by the wind last week but I have 2 pots just about hanging in there in a quiet corner just doing their tulip thing. They remind me so strongly of plumage. The colour shifts are as marvelous as starlings, and the shape of the flower, as round and plump as a bird’s breast. Their lovely throats and jewels inside the bowl of the bloom are quite intoxicating. I almost expect a blast of gorgeous fragrance – like that from a lily (- greedy!). I love the textured ground you painted these on Mari – so beautiful.

    • I do like the way you liken them to plumage elaine – you’re right they are very like glossy feathers aren’t they? you sound as obsessed as me ; )
      Have been progressing them a bit more today – lots of juicy dioxazine purple and quinacrodine crimson (sound like spices) paint for the flowers. Am now wondering if I should have taken out one of the blooms/buds – looking a bit symmetrical to my eye. Always love painting on textured ground, except with watercolour although having said that I normally paint on ‘rough’ rather than smooth paper. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Love the watercolour particularly Mari. Go on, try it BIG.
    ps if in Norwich 16th to 23May I’m in Studio Art Gallery, Upper St Giles St. I’ll be there Mon, Tues, Friday and Sunday roughly 10 to 4.

    • Thanks Ruth, I just may do that. I’ve progressed the canvas more today and I think it’s an improvement, will be uploading later this week.
      I’ll try to get to see you in Norwich if poss. I’m doing Open Studios with a group this year – at Southacre Church, near Castle Acre, the details are on my website diary page if you’re interested.
      I’ll be invigilating on the wednesday morning. best of luck with selling your art.

  3. I just love these.
    There’s a real tenderness to the way you have captured them – especially as I think they look so dense & robust in reality.
    Nice one.

    • Thanks Sam, that’s a lovely notion. I do admit I feel strongly for these flowers and the way they inspire me. Obsession should maybe read passion.
      They’re going over in the garden now unfortunately, but I have my sketches etc to sustain me! cheers!

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