Ros Harvey - On Painting "Fire"
I first put in the sky. This applies to all my paintings. Get the sky right to start with, and the atmosphere is fixed for the rest of the work. This is a very small area, but nevertheless is vital. I use a pale blue. Having blended the blue, the next phase is putting in the reds, yellows and oranges, remembering that the hottest part of the fire is the whitest. I cover all the fiery places working from the lightest hot spots outwards to the deep crimsons reddish browns. I blend these carefully keeping a vertical pull or curve in line with the direction of the flame, and not mixing the colours – they must be kept clean. Then I spray.
The skeleton of the little burning twigs and flame spurts within the fiery bits go in at this stage, but leaving the highlights until the end. I am remembering how the twigs vary. Some are bright red and glowing, some still black on the inside. I will bulk these out when I go over them again, as a double line is often effective. I spray these lightly, just to prevent dark dust settling, and will be brushing them down later.
Now it is time to sweep in the smoke – varying light shades and tones of umbers, browns and ochres. Whins burn with a definite yellow/brown smoke. I visualize in my mind how it goes up in coils and circles, so blend in these directions. With dark and light greens I roughly indicate the form of the whin branches. I do this quickly and at random - the blending also. Too much detail distracts. Now for more definitive smoke. I have sprayed the individual parts that will have smoke over the top. The colours are good and firm, and the nap is nice and crisp. I put in all the smoke I think will be needed – well covered, and blend, very gently, and carefully, in small areas at a time until I have completed the whole surface.
One final detail is accentuating the flames again. I brush them down quite briskly as they inevitably collect dust, and re-apply my reds, yellows and oranges. Then small refinements like a few branches and twigs in front of the flames to quieten them down.
All the greens and highlights of the sun lighting up individual branches, and changing the colours from yellow greens to blue greens are fascinating too and need accentuating. Small spurts of smoke creep up in pale blues and pinks – these are the additional bits of information that make the painting of Fires so exciting.