I just want to preface this post by letting you know that my gorgeous model has been safely released into the woods far away and no one was in danger of being bitten or hurt during this process.
Having said that, I can now go on about how thrilling and captivating it was to shoot this elegant, deadly spider with my delicate antique china and petals from my favorite rose. The scent was intoxicating, the beauty engulfing and there’s nothing quite like the creepy crawl of a spider to keep you on your toes!
I love the wild and dangerous darkness of the spider along with all of her creative, powerful and cunning associations contrasted with the domestic refinement of delicate petals and porcelain – I could drink it in for days!
Most roses really thrive in the sun but my Spirit of Freedom was having none of this 92 degree onslaught! It’s really quite delicate. I had to shade it with my big green market umbrella and hope that those ponderous heads of tightly wound petals wouldn’t fall away from their delicate stems like a dried up umbilical cord. These roses seem shy, always looking downward. I think I would have named them differently, maybe Bashful Belle or Heavy Heart? No matter the name, I still need to keep my inspiration from frying in the heat!
A loose outline in hot pink.
Blocking in some mid-tones.
Trying out a few highlights early on.
Trying to create a swirling action.
Icing the cake.
Paying attention to building up the volume of the center head of the rose.
I hate to leave it here, but I’m going to have to come back to it tomorrow to pump up the Fragonard factor – damn these short days!
A little more blending and refining and a swirly signature.
Today was the first day I had to turn the heat on, painting this little ( 4 x 4″) rose bud in the cool morning fog.
I painted out a loose gestural outline of the rose on a prepared pink ground.
I blocked in some major highlights and shadows with color.
I blended the tones in the base of the rose and built up the highlights , curving my brush stokes to echo the shape of the petals.
I played up the color reflecting in the shadows which helped to develop a sense of volume and refined the details until the point where I felt there was a balance between lights and darks, angles and form, depth and volume, detail and negative space. A lot going on in 4 square inches!
Rose Mandala has been snapped up before the paint was even dry! I’d love to fill a room with these little blooms – and maybe some giant ones too!
The rose is a great deal more than a blushing apology for the thorn.
- excerpt from Rabindranath Tagore’s Fireflies.