Peace Poppies

This was a special request for a workshop to paint white poppies for a Peace and Remembrance Day in November 2018.

The gift of a vase or a painting of a vase is a wish for peace because the character for vase (瓶) is pronounced píng, which sounds like the word for peace 平 安,  píng ān.  A vase with crackled glaze sounds like “year after year peace”.

It took me a while to get the effect I wanted, and which would be achievable by total beginners.  I needed a wash to show up the white flowers, but white pigment can look thick and dead.   My final method was:

  • All  ink work first, including mid outline petals & vase, plus dark stamens and calligraphy.  Let it dry thoroughly (hairdryers are a boon).  Tip: make an outline of the vase shape, put in plastic sleeve, use as guide under your painting paper.
  • Titanium white petals painted on the back as a resist.   Dry thoroughly.  Painting on the back softens the effect on the front.
  • Mineral green or blue on the vase, on the back so that the ink cracks show.  Dry thoroughly.
  • Wash of green and/or blue, also painted on the back.  Use a largish hake brush for ease and speed.  Careful with the white, which may run when wet.  Need a mid or darker colour, as it will be less intense on the front.

I mostly used thin machine-made bark paper so that I could wash from the back and get a subtle colour on the front.  I love the texture of mulberry paper, but it was too thick for a wash on the back to show well (first example above).

The participants seemed very happy with their paintings !