Thursday, September 29, 2016

Spiral Barrel Fire

Spiral Barrel Fire
11 x 11
Pastel on UArt 500

Barrel cactus are fascinating to me - well all plants are fascinating to me, but barrels are particularly interesting. I love their really strong pattern. I love the ribs and especially the top down view of the spiral. I am a big fan of spirals - a very ancient image. Think petroglyphs in the desert, Nazca lines, the galaxy! I built a labyrinth in my backyard many years ago - Rick says it's a beacon for the UFOs- kind of like a crop circle. Anyway....on to the painting. I've been working on this one (another struggle painting) for several nights.

This painting is different for me in many ways: 

1. I needed to do something in a square format, I'm usually more of a rectangle gal. As many of you know, I like to paint in a series. Last month, I did a square painting on recycled mat board knocks outs called "Mother of Hundreds". I liked the top down view of this plant. My framer did up two frames from remnants of my custom frames in the 11 x 11 format - so I needed a second painting. Enter the barrel cactus.

2. I reused a painting that I didn't care much for that I did in a class. I cut down the paper to 11 x 11 and wiped down the old image. Retrospectively, I probably should have washed it down to free up more tooth in the paper.

3. I did not have a full reference photo for this. I had one photo of a top down barrel cactus spiral - but without flowers. I had a second photo from a friend of a downward view of blooming barrel cactus. I had to 'compose' and adjust and change the light. Not as easy as it sounds. I also consciously decided to not make a perfect ring of flowers - as it's pretty uncommon to see a barrel with a perfect ring. Life is about imperfection and the beauty of imperfection.

Lessons Learned

1. I need more tooth in my paper. I really felt my pastel was moving around alot - so wash the recycled paper - when possible. Not all sanded papers tolerate this - but UArt does.
2. I like painting in squares.
3. Think of alternate complementary colors in the painting. In this case, I added turquoise to the cactus itself.

Anyway, that's all I know about that. 


  1. I like the turquoise bits. Just right, any more would have been too much.

    1. Thanks Alice! I struggled with this one and felt it was blah - so put it aside. Then on my walk the next day, it came to me - it needed turquoise!! Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Yummy colors. Definitely keeps my eyes moving. <3