Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Slippin' Ladies

Lady Slipper 3
Gouache on 6x6" Fluid Watercolor Cold Press
For the third year in a row, we have five lady slippers on one plant in our back yard. The plant hides underneath a fern, which apparently provides the just-right conditions for this plant to survive, even though lady slippers are not common in Iowa. 

Lady Slipper 2
5.5 x 8.25" Premium Sketchbook
Epsilon Series, Stillman & Birn

Here's an earlier version, which I considered a quick watercolor-and-ink value study for the finished product above.

Lady Slipper 1
5.5 x 8.25" Premium Sketchbook
Epislon Series, Stillman & Birn

And here's last year's version. 

Each of the three versions has its  strengths and drawbacks.  What I learned from "Lady Slipper 1" is the value of simplifying the background even more in "Lady Slipper 2" and "3." 

What I learned from both the watercolors (1 and 2) is how icky I feel sometimes after adding that black ink, especially if I'm using the ink as just a short-hand way of representing something because I don't know how else to do it. Of course ink and watercolor sketches do have their appeal at times, but I still want to be able to get by without that ink if I'm going to call myself a painter. For that reason, the top image (3) is my favorite -- even though in time I might like the other two more. 

Or not. That's the value of beginning to paint more regularly. These individual paintings don't have to be so precious. I can do them, learn from them, and move on. 


  1. I really love three. It feels alive. You've got the sheen on the petals just right- fading away but still white in the middle. The shadows are perfect. The background is interesting but steps back and doesn't distract. Great to see the steps you took to get this fat!

  2. Thank you, Andrea! There’s something kind of limiting composition-wise about the triangular shape with the 2 narrow legs, but those tiny little slippers are just so darned sweet, I had to give it my best shot.


More About the Sally Project

I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on...