Electric Blue Vibrations

I am very fond of floral compositions. During a spring in Phoenix, Arizona, I saw the wonderful orchid trees in full bloom at the Biltmore Fashion Park Shopping Center. I took several close-up shots of these gorgeous blossoms against the blue skies. Later, I decided to make a watercolor of the photograph, applying my recently acquired mother-of-pearl powders with gum arabic to the watercolors. This made for a very interesting painting.

Like most of my experimental watercolor, I challenged myself to simplify a complex arrangement of flowers and leaves. The watercolor is a stylized orchid tree using outline and powdered mother-of-pearl in the application. There was just no way to put in each leaf and petal to make this an interesting piece. I concentrated on whole areas as one and subdivided the areas with line work. The background shows how you can use controlled washes with back runs to make the composition exciting. It was difficult to work with the mother-of-pearl, as the powder wouldn’t always set smoothly. It was like trying to make a four year old do exactly as she was told to do! There is a lot of rebellion here in this diagonally placed composition, yet it was successful. This painting is on a ‘half sheet’ at 14.476″ h x 22″ w of d’Arches 140 lb cold pressed paper. I use Winsor & Newton tube pigments, mother-of-pearl powders with Gum Arabic binder, and Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable brushes.

I have two mottos about life: “SFF, or Stay Fabulous Forever!” and “Something is going to happen this week, I just don’t know what it is!” The latter was true of 2012. I had entered Electric Blue Vibrations to the Arizona Watercolor Association’s Spring Exhibition. At the beginning of the week the exhibition chairman, Donna Eastman Liddle, sent out a notice that I was one of the winners!

Organizations do that now, so the winners will actually be there to accept their prize! I had considered not going, as it was all the way downtown Phoenix in the new Burton Barr Library. When Steve and I arrived, there was already a small crowd of AWA artists and friends. I found my painting right away, and took a few photos. Afterwards, we went to a meeting room for the announcements and snacks. It always amazes me that people can always eat more snacks after eating dinner! Steve and I settled into the back chairs on the aisle. Jeremy Jones, AWA President, and Kim Johnson, AWS juror, were on stage to announce the winners and present the awards. We had many wonderful Merchant Awards, because everyone loves free art supplies. Jeremy then gave out the Merit and Excellence Awards. By this time I started noticing that we were almost to the end, and my name had not been called. There is sometimes a Memorial Award and Juror’s Award, so I was just listening for those names to be called. Then Jeremy skipped over that and went for Best of Show. “Now ladies and gentlemen, the Best of Show goes to Shirley Kleppe!” I now know what the Oscar winner of the Best Actress Award feel like! I just sat there and didn’t move. Stunned. Uh, me? I about dropped my camera on the floor. Steve said, “Shirley, get up!” I floated down to the stage and received my certificate and check for $300.00 Needless to say, I was humbled and speechless. I couldn’t imagine my painting was worth a Best of Show, but I am sure happy about it!

My watercolor painting Electric Blue Vibrations was accepted into the 2012 Arizona Watercolor Association (AWA) Spring Exhibition at the Burton Barr Library, 1221 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona from April 2 to 28, 2012.

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