STORY BEHIND THE ART OF Carrie Di Costanzo

 
20th Annual International American Society of Botanical Artists & The Horticultural Society of New York
 
 

Cockscomb III

Celosia argentea

 

The Cockscomb flowers that are planted in my garden every year inspired this piece. I grow many of these flowers because it gives me wide variety of choices.  There was one large flower head that was inspiring because of the unusual shape.  I liked the way it tilted and pictured it as the focal point of the painting.  The smaller flowers were included to add interest to the composition and also to show the beginning stages of this plant. 

 

The composition was worked out with many sketches on tracing paper first.  Each individual flower is drawn on separate pieces of tracing paper. The sketches are then cut out and moved around until I am satisfied.  This composition reminded me of a parent protecting and guiding the children.   

 

This flower is a very cooperative subject because the head lasts long and does not change significantly for the time that I need to record those details.  Using gouache, I work light to dark.  I start with a light wash and then quickly move to dry brush, building the layers to a semi-opaque finish.  I prefer to start seeing the form of the flower quickly, so I work in sections, as opposed to layering paint over the entire composition. 

 

I have tried to make this particular painting different than others of this subject through the composition and the choice of the uniquely shaped flower in the center.  But, as with the other paintings, my purpose was to clearly show the form, details, and uncommon beauty of the Cockscomb flower.  Moving forward with this subject, I would like to paint it with other mediums such as egg tempera and watercolor.

 

Iris

Iris germanica
 

The irises were blooming in my garden and I had not planned to paint them.  It was a very quick decision based on another look at those rich and velvety petals.  I wanted to work from life to try and capture the textures of the flower, which does not last long.  So it was a challenge to paint the flower as it changed and faded.  Luckily, there were other irises of the same kind blooming or about to bloom, which were also used for color and texture.  The flower and buds were painted first for this reason, and the leaves were last.

 

Gouache was used for this painting for many reasons.  In order to work directly from the flower, I had to paint relatively fast, so working with a medium that I have been using for many years helped a great deal.  There was a deep, opaque quality to those dark petals which gouache could achieve.  Also, any mistakes that I would encounter, could be corrected more easily with this paint.

 

This composition was kept simple and clean as I worked directly from flower.  I did many preliminary sketches on tracing paper first because it helped me to perfect the drawing with each new sketch.  It is interesting to see the progress between the initial drawing and the final drawing.  I never produce a perfect initial drawing so it is important to take the time to work out the scale, detailing, and composition before I start the painting.

 

I think this painting fits in with my body of work in terms of medium and technique, but hopefully it is also a welcome addition because of the subject, which is very different than my other paintings.  

 
 
 
Read more about this artist’s work: 19th Annual International
 
  • © 2016 Carrie Di Costanzo
    Cockscomb III
    Celosia argentea
    Gouache on Paper
    24 x 19
  • © 2017 Carrie Di Costanzo
    Iris
    Iris germanica
    Gouache on Paper
    18" x 15"