what was the question?

I've been asked many times how I decide what to paint, and my answer usually something like 'it seemed like a good idea at the time' or 'I've never painted {insert random subject matter here} before, so I thought I'd give it a try.'

I've figured out in the last few months I like to paint things to answer a question.

How would I go about painting this?

Last summer was our first summer in our house in Vermilion. We didn't know what to expect from the garden so we didn't plant a lot of flowers, but one of the best things we did do was plant sweetpeas in the narrow bed that runs along two sides of the perimeter of our deck in the backyard. We ended up with a sweetpea hedge by the time August rolled around. I harvested fragrant bouquets every few days and filled the house with their gorgeous smell. They flourished like mad and I was sad to pull them out in the fall. I made a few sketches of them and took some photos with the intent to put them to canvas, but as I looked through my reference photos I was struck by the difficulty of the task I lay out for myself. So I put it aside and worked on many other things.

Spring rolls around again and naturally we wanted an encore of the sweetpea spectacle of the previous summer, so we planted them by the deck again, again they flourished like mad and became a fragrant, tangled hedge around our deck, and again I was inspired to paint a picture of them, and again I was struggling with where to start on that.

Sweetpeas are a rather shapeless flower. Their foliage is a mess of leaves and a maze of thick stems weaving themselves carelessly between the leaves and whatever it is they happen to be climbing up. Their fragrance to me is the most defining thing about them, besides their delicate curly-cue like tendrils that wrap themselves around things and hold on for dear life. How the heck do you paint that? How do you organize the wall of foliage and some nondescript flowers shapes into a painting?

I don't have the answer, but I did come up with a answer.

sweetpeas,  mixed media on canvas, 24x24(in), $1010 + GST,  2018

sweetpeas, mixed media on canvas, 24x24(in), $1010 + GST, 2018

I guess this one really is half painting, half drawing. I kept the paper bits to the beefy stems and the flower petals to help those stand out a bit more from the wall of foliage that makes up the other 3/4 of the painting. The foliage at the base of the painting was drawn with acrylic ink. It's a pretty interesting answer to my question.