slice of my personal humble pie is the fact that I'm pretty bad at math in
general and downright horrible at geometry in particular. You'd never ever find
me trying to use these skills when making art--or so I thought. But when I was
gleaning tips from watercolor artist Law Wai Hin on how to paint flowers,
geometry kept popping up.
|Flower Arrangements with Lotus by Law Wai Hin, 22 x 30, watercolor painting.
drawing process begins with arranging the flowers into a striking composition.
The artist starts with a realistic drawing of the flowers as they actually
appear in front of him. But after repeatedly sketching it he eventually finds
new elements within the scene and from there he adjust his sketches until he's
captured the deep thought and feeling he wants to express.
|Poppies with Sunflowers by Law Wai Hin, 22 x 30, watercolor painting.
expressions are often visually manifested through geometry--using shape, size,
and relative position of figures to create the depth and clarity that exists in
each painting. For example in Flower No. 1, color and
texture are what I see first. The colors are so lush and appear to almost
vibrate. The rendering of the flowers is so unusual that I want to get as close
as possible to the surface of the painting to see how it was done.
|Flower No. 1 by Law Wai Hin, watercolor painting, 29 1/2 x 41 1/2.
Adapted from an article by Austin R. Williams.
But when I
start to analyze the painting's composition, I see how the flower vases are
positioned in space as if they are marking the path of an arc. But the thick
white line that runs parallel to the horizontal edge of the painting
complicates the space, perhaps bisecting it, which would mean the space in the
painting is vaster than what the artist shows us. The white line also creates a
second horizon line, as there is one indicated to the right of the painting
about midway up. The two lines together make it seem as though the space in the
painting is folding in on itself.
So it seems
that in order to learn how to draw flowers, I'm going to have to cozy up to my
bad-math past, but if it gets me anywhere near the skill and unique beauty of
works like Law, I'd count myself lucky. And every time I read my digital edition of Best of Watercolor, I feel the same way.
The magazine features so many incredible artists using unusual methods to get
the most out of watercolor, and I'd love to be able to do the same. If you feel
like you are on the same path, take a look at Best of Watercolor and see if it is right for you. Enjoy!