This little bunch of snowdrops delights me every year when at appears in the hedgerow opposite my front gate, so a couple of February’s ago I thought it was time that I painted them.
Every year the flowers appear in the garden in a certain order and I have been here long enough to know what to expect next. The Autumn makes me feel so sad as all the leaves and flowers rapidly disappear, we don’t get much in the way of Autumn colour as the wind from the sea tends to shrivel the leaves before they have chance to change and then they are gone. However, we do usually have a few yellow primroses just before Christmas and even a few brave daffodils by the end of the year and then I know that within weeks the snowdrops will be up. There are many bunches of snowdrops around the garden but my favourite bunch are in the hedge by the gate and every year I want to paint them, this year I did.
As usual I drew everything out in watercolour pencil on 300g Bockingford paper and then picked out the colours of the snowdrop leaves which helped define the different parts of the scene. The white of the snowdrop flowers I left unpainted along with a few areas of light behind the hedge.
Next I painted the fresh green of the stinging nettle shoots, this helped to differentiate between the front of the picture and the snowdrops in the middle. Once these were dry I started working on the back of the picture, picking out the major leaves with a light green colour which not only helps me to see everything easier but also gives a base for me to paint on the details of the leaves. Then, starting with the left, I blocked in spaces with a weak mix of yellow ochre and alizarin crimson, being careful not to paint on the flower heads and to leave a few areas of light from behind. I worked from left to right so that I didn’t smudge any wet paint and I also put a clean sheet of paper across the rest of the painting to help keep it clean and white. The next stage was to paint the details on the larger leaves and to work the background in behind them.
Once the lefthand side of the back was finished I did the same for the right.
Then I added the details to the flower heads and worked on the foreground in the same way but adjusting the colours and the amount of detail so that the foreground looked closer. When the whole thing was done I added a few highlights and strengthened some of the dark shadows.
Since I painted this the snowdrops have gone along with the crocus which flowered soon after. More of the Daffodils are out now but are later than last year, the primroses are increasing daily and I am waiting for the muscari to brave the weather to add blue to the palette.