Painting Gum Blossoms – Sharing My Process 

I got chatting with a fellow artist friend, Lynette K, the other day about sharing the creative process. She asked me if I’d ever made videos of me working (I haven’t, I’m not comfortable with the idea), as she was considering sharing her own. 

Check out her funky art here, it’s very cool.

I did say to her that I had thought of sharing the process here on the blog and she told me it was something she’d like to see…. I hope you all find it interesting too!

First things first, a support to paint on.

I chose a canvas for this demonstration, but I more often work on paper, which I prime first using Art Spectrum transparent gesso, also known as pastel primer. It’s gritty and provides a good grip on any type of paper.

Next I need a subject matter! Sometimes I work from life, but more often from photographs. My process takes time, and it’s easier to have a static, unchanging subject.

I chose this photo of gum blossom that I took on a walk in my local park.

The first step is to draw the outline of the gum blossom. I usually use pencil or biro to do this. Pencil works fine, but the biro is waterproof and doesn’t smudge as much, especially on paper.

Next comes the masking fluid. Again I use the Art Spectrum brand, mainly because I go through a lot of it and they’re one of the few brands who sell it in big bottles.

I carefully paint the masking fluid over the subject matter, leaving only the background exposed.

A word of warning, this stuff really clogs up brushes, so don’t use your best ones for this!

Next I dip the brush in the masking fluid and flick drops of it onto the background. 

The very first time I did this was because of an accident! Some drops of masking fluid fell where I didn’t want them because I’d loaded my brush too much. You pretty much can’t remove it when it’s wet as it will just smear, so I decided to go with it and created more spatters in my background. It turned out so well it’s become an integral part of my style.

Then I leave it to dry. It takes anything up to a few hours to dry depending on thickness and temperature, and it absolutely must be completely dry for the next step.

All dry and now it’s time to paint the background. I use acrylic ink for my backgrounds as they have very vibrant and rich colours that contrast beautifully with the softer feel of the watercolour pencils I use for the subject.

I use several different brands of ink including Art Spectrum, Daler Rowney, Liquitex, Windsor & Newton and Derivan Matisse, this way I get a wider variety of colours for blending.

Once the background is painted it also needs to dry completely, which also takes a while. I can get impatient with this process and have to force myself to leave it alone. As a consequence I sometimes lose my muse and I always have a pile of UFOs in the studio. (Unfinished objects!)

When it has dried completely the masking fluid gets peeled or rubbed off. If I’m using paper, this is where the primer becomes crucial. I’ve found that without it the paper often tears, especially if the masking fluid is thicker, and there’s nothing more frustrating!

Then I start building up layers of watercolour pencil to draw my flowers.

Once I’m happy with the pencil layers I brush them with water to blend the colours.

Sometimes I go over them again with another layer once dry, to add more depth.

My favourite watercolour pencils are Derwent, especially the Inktense range, but I also use Faber Castell Albrecht Durer.

Finally I outline the flowers. 

Generally when I paint on canvas I use ink, sometimes a felt tip pen. On paper I mostly use a black pencil.

I have often been asked why I use thick black outlines in my work and I think it goes back over twenty years ago, to when I majored in printmaking at University. 

I primarily did reduction linocuts then, and my final layer was always a black outline. It feels somehow more “finished” to me!

My greatest inspiration back then was the work of Australian artist Margaret Preston…. this is one oh her works from 1925:

And so my gum blossom painting is complete. I hope you enjoyed reading about my process!

About Aixie

Artist Crafter Interiors Addict Crazy Cat Lady
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2 Responses to Painting Gum Blossoms – Sharing My Process 

  1. Mixy says:

    That’s awesome! I’m fascinated to learn artist’s process, and especially when it’s illustrated along the way like this. It’s got a print like quality, your printmaking roots are strong! Thanks so much for sharing 😊

    • Aixie says:

      Thanks Mixy! Now that I think about it the process itself is similar to print making, and there is that same element of the unknown as to how it will turn out!
      One day I hope to be able to return to my printmaking roots.

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