March’s flowers in our garden have been a beautiful Spring colour palette of yellow, violet and fresh Spring Greens.
I have chosen to grow a lot of native wild flowers. This month we have had a good show of native primroses – primula vulgaris. These are a beautiful pale cream yellow. Primroses always symbolise to me that Spring is on it’s way. My Uncle picked a small bunch of primroses from the woods for my mum when she was born in March. Now whenever I see primroses I think of mum! We often remember her birthday with a woodland walk.
I have another variety of primrose in bloom in the garden called `Emily’ which is a slightly darker yellow colour. There are also cream primula flowers and a delightful pink and yellow variety.
As a child I dreamt of creamy yellow primroses in a posy as a wedding bouquet. I am a very romantic soul! I imagined myself picking woodland flowers and flouncing about in a Jane Austin inspired Regency Wedding dress. I hadn’t even read any Jane Austin aged 8! When we walked in Grovelly Woods to see the primroses as a child I remember a derelict cottage I dreamt of renovating and restoring. That’s where I would have flounced off to the church in my Empire Line Dress with my Spring bouquet of primroses and violets!
I did enjoy the grounds of The Baytree Hotel in my Empire Line Dress on my wedding day. In reality primroses were too small for my bouquet so I opted for yellow roses instead. The idea of something picked straight out of the garden arranged in an informal way stayed with me. I opted for informal jugs of Spring flowers on the tables including Spring Green Viburnum opulus and yellow Forsivia.
Our March garden has also had a good display of vibrant yellow daffodils with dainty, minature Tete-a-Tete being my favourite.
The other flowers in bloom have been violet, mauve and blue in colour. We have clumps of the native woodland violet.
My Gran’s favourite perfume was Yardley April Violets which has a very distinct sweet smell of Parma Violets, which she loved. The delicate purple flowers of the parma violet plant also gave their name to a delicate, violet-scented sweet Parma Violets manufactured by Swizzels Matlow.
Apart from violets I have some dainty Viola flowers in my Spring pots by the front door. These are in a range of purple, violet and mauves and look very pretty against the pale yellow primulas. The lilac edged one is called Viola purple picotee.
The front garden has a beautiful carpet of Anemone blanda in shades of violet-blue and white. Isn’t it amazing how nature combines the complementary colours of mauve and yellow together in one beautiful flower? For those of you unfamiliar with complementary colours let me explain.
As an artist and flower photographer I am absolutely passionate about colour and how different hues can be combined together to create beautiful colour palettes. A Colour Wheel is a simple tool to work out how to combine different hues. It is an invaluable aid as an artist and can be used when planning colour schemes for interior design, for weddings and when planning a new border in the garden.
A Colour Wheel is created with the 3 Primary Colours – Red, Blue and Yellow – equally spaced. The primary colours cannot be made by mixing other colours. The Secondary Colours of purple, green and orange are created by mixing the primaries together. Colours can also be classified into tints, shades and tones. Tertiary Colours are made by mixing primary and secondaries together. Tertiary colours are the neutrals.
Colours can be classified even further with tints, shades, and tones. These are key because when you are creating a colour scheme, you may want to use a family of hues not just one. I found an invaluable Blog Post by Sara of Burnett’s Boards which explains Colour Theory wonderfully and is a really useful resource when planning colour schemes. I have used a few of her diagrams here as they are so clear to understand.
I wish I’d seen this diagram before I started painting dusky lilac roses! I can now see that mauve or lilac are pastel purple tints and these are created by adding white to a purple hue. In watercolour paints are applied dilute so the white of the paper shines through making them appear tonally lighter. This creates what is known as a High-Key palette. High-key paints are usually transparent, high chroma and painted lightly. This is the effect I like to create when painting flowers so I favour transparent pigments. Low-Key paints are often darker, more opaque and painted more heavily. Shades are created by adding black. A Low-Key colour scheme contains hues that are at the dark end of the value scale. Another invaluable reference book is The Encyclopedia of Colour for Watercolour Artists by Jan Hart. It is absolutely full of colour and a mine of information including details about High and Low Key Pigments. Tones are created by adding greys or neutrals. This is what I needed to add to my brilliant violet hue to create Dusky Lilac roses. I needed to add a neutral grey rather than a beige or brown.
There are so many ways of creating beautiful colour schemes.
Monochromatic Colour Schemes.
For a monochromatic scheme choose one colour and use the tints,shades and tones of this one hue. Using my March flowers as an example you could pick Spring Yellow as your theme. I have been amazed by the number of different yellow hues in my daffodils and primroses.
Yellow can be very vibrant and High-Key in colour so you may find you need to add in a few neutrals to tone it down. Green foliage or grey or simple ivory would work well. The daffodils outside a local florist were displayed to great effect in silver grey buckets.
Apart from yellow flowers in hues raging from pale creamy primrose to zingy daffodil yellow we have a garden full of purples. Purple is a very popular colour scheme for weddings at the moment and it tends to suit most people. Many brides have been choosing `Cadbury’s Purple’ (Pantone 2685C) when I asked them at recent Bridal Fairs. The violets, anemones and viola flowers in the garden have given me all these lovely colours. This makes a wonderful palette with an ivory neutral. (I took the ivory from the white Anemone blanda)
My painting of a `Pretty Pink Bouquet’ was for a bride who chose a monochromatic scheme based around the colour pink and it’s various shades and tints. With this colour scheme you pick one colour and stick to it. Sujinan had a variety of pinks in her bouquet including soft pink Sweet Avalanche roses and darker pink bombastic spray roses. Her shoes were vibrant pink and the groom had a tie and shirt in shades of pink.
Complementary Colour Schemes
In a Complementary Colour Scheme you combine colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel. Simply choose a color and go directly across from it on the color wheel to find its complementary color. Pick one color to dominate and break it down into its tints,shades or hues. Add a supporting complementary colour and then add a neutral. This month the garden is singing out with the Complementary Colours of Yellow and Purple.
I think it is absolutely amazing that colours work so well in nature. I don’t know why we have so many violet and primrose yellow flowers in bloom at the same time, but the combination is delightful. So many purple coloured flowers have a yellow centre or highlight such as my violas and Anemone blanda.
Invitation by http://www.zazzle .co.uk
Analagous Colour Schemes
To create an analogous look pick two, three, or four colours on the colour wheel that are next to each other. You can either use them equally throughout the look you are creating or use one as a dominant color and the others to support it. The Memory Lane Bouquet I painted was based on an analogous colour scheme of pinks, mauves and violets. Amy chose a vintage inspired bouquet of dusky lilac and pink roses with accents of purple veronica. The accents of green were aromatic eucalyptus.
Split Complementary Colour Schemes
Now things get a bit more complicated! For my wedding flowers I wanted a colour scheme of Peaches and Cream with accents of Golden Yellow as these are colours that suit me. They are Light Spring Colours. If you look on the colour wheel Peach, Cream and Gold are analogous hues. I considered putting my bridesmaid in a cheery primrose yellow dress. She refused as my bridesmaid does not look good in yellow. My bridesmaid has lovely bright blue eyes and although light colours suit her like me, she does not have my Spring colouring. She is a light, Summer. Many of the light pastel colours that suit me work well on her, however blues work better on her then any colour biased towards yellow. A person with Summer colouring does not look good in yellow, gold, orange or peach. This can be a problem if your bridal party includes several people with a bias towards particular colours. In the Colour Me Beautiful Book `Be a Beautiful Bride’ there is a list of several colours which suit everyone and this lists includes purple, turquoise, emerald and true red. I decided on a Split Complementary Colour Scheme. I used the analogous peaches, coral pinks and creams I favoured and contrasted these colours with a lively complementary aqua colour. Peach and aqua are a fantastic combination. Whenever I see these colours together they seem to sing!
When I was choosing how to photograph March’s Posy I wanted to celebrate the Complementary Spring Colour Scheme of Yellow and Purple. My first photo simply shows off the flowers in all their beauty with no attempt to use any other props. I chose a simple glass posy bowl which was clear in colour so as not to distract from the flowers.
I then had a go at creating a Spring image suitable for Easter. I picked a vintage tablecloth with pretty pastel floral embroidery and bought lots of coloured Easter Eggs and chocolate rabbits. I would highly recommend a book called Food Photography for Bloggers by Matt Aemendariz. There is a whole chapter on props for food styling. `Used effectively props add colour, movement and shape to images, but the opposite hold true, too: used improperly, they can clutter and detract.’ Creating this months Posy of the Month had me developing an understanding of how to use props effectively. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to ask myself `What am I trying to say? What am I trying to convey? What is the purpose of the image?’ I was trying to create an image which showed off my garden flowers to their best advantage in a posy and shouted out `Spring is Sprung!’ Therefore the important thing to remember was – `it’s all about the flowers’. The props were there to enhance the flowers and not distract. As much as I loved my pretty Easter eggs I discovered I couldn’t use them all as the image was then about the eggs and not the flowers. I think this image is a bit too busy and over-propped.
I also need to keep in mind the size and shape I need the image to be for publishing. My cards are 145 x145 mm square or 125 x 175 mm rectangular. Many of my images end up as being 145 x 175 mm which just do not work for printing purposes. This may mean sometimes I need to step back and allow room for cropping. Sometimes I need to put text on the image later so it pays to keep a bit of negative space blank. There is nothing worse than having text over an image where you can’t read the text. So often this happens in magazines where you can’t read the important text. In this case the image has lost it’s purpose. I found this was so true. I had created quite a few images which were incredibly pretty, but for some reason it was impossible to get Happy Easter written on the image in a pleasing way. If my purpose was to create an Easter Card then this needed to be addressed when taking the photo. Next time I am going to create myself cardboard viewfinders with the correct dimensions to help with my composition.
The props need to enhance the image and work with the flowers. I tried to use a couple of baskets as props with my Easter eggs in them. The handles came up too high so I was left with too much blank space at handle level. I thought this would give me space for text. In reality I found I had too much handle and the flowers were then too small to be the main focus! I had an issue of what level I needed to be at to photograph. I bought some gold wrapped chocolate Easter bunnies as props. That meant I needed to be at eye level with the bunnies to make the image work. However I then couldn’t see the eggs adequately and only the wickerwork of the basket! I also had a problem with exposure. The shiny gold foil paper tended to blow out the highlights. When I compensated the exposure for the shine the white tablecloth was too grey!
I concluded that I had far too many props for the flowers.The big eggs in a basket were too big for the flowers as were the large Lindt Chocolate Easter bunnies. I settled on using smaller eggs placed directly on the tablecloth. The ones that worked well were the lilac and gold foil covered chocolate eggs as the colours complemented the yellow and violet flowers. Unfortunately gold eggs were in one packet and lilac in another so I had to buy two packets! Mr Smiles was happy as we had chocolate eggs and rabbits to eat! In fact I had another problem in that we eat too many chocolate props! I concluded the rabbit with the primrose yellow ribbon complemented the primrose flowers best. However we eat it and there were no more in the shops that size so I had to go with one with a green ribbon. For some reason I didn’t like the colour of the green ribbon aesthetically as much. (Never mind it was hazelnut flavoured Lindt milk chocolate and was yummy!)
I then changed the posy bowl to a pink one. I suddenly decided that pink would work as a contrast to the complementary colours of yellow and violet in a loosely defined Triadic Colour Scheme. In a Triadic Colour Palette colours are used that are equally spaced around the colour wheel. I had bought a cute, pink Spring Bird by Gisella Graham and there was a dash of pink in the embroidery. The bird was just the right height for the flowers. A couple of the smaller eggs had a touch of pink in them. Finally I had a composition and colour scheme that worked! Hurrah!
So here we have it March’s Mosaic of yellows and violets. I hope you have enjoyed March’s colours as much as I have.