Wormwood and Cast Shadows

Drop shadows make a huge difference to the way an object sits within a painting. Now that there’s a glaze of Raw Umber around the morning glory and some highlighting of some smaller leaves the plant seems more substantial. Although not included in this photo the ivy has benefited from the same treatment, feeling far more substantial and three dimensional. The addition of five flowers makes the plant complete, and adds a nice symbolic note to the painting aside from the heart shaped flowers, for the pentagram generated by the five pointed star is a beautiful geometrical shape embodying the golden ratio, and was a symbol embraced by Pythagoreans and early Christians as a sign of divinity’s presence in the natural world.

At the bottom of the photo there’s an Artemesia Wormwood plant growing in the space made by the corner of the marble slabs. There’s no shadow to its upper right, or around it where the light should be blocked, and consequently you can really see how the new work sits above the surface of the marble when a drop shadow hasn’t been added. Once this is dry I’ll add a glaze of Raw Umber to create its shadow and the plant will feel much more convincingly in place. With luck I’ll be able to put a glaze of green over the morning glory leaves and flowers tomorrow, then add a touch of blue to the mixture to colour the wormwood its characteristic pale, almost coral hue. I’m slightly apprehensive about putting the colour onto the flowers because they’re so intensely bright in nature that they may dominate the painting if I’m true to them.

It’s gloomy in the studio these days with solstice upon us, bringing the shortest day of the year tomorrow, unusually accompanied by a full moon.

About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
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