Sunday, March 31, 2013

Experimenting With Hydrangeas

No, I'm not a mad scientist.  I actually experimented with a painting of hydrangeas.  About four years ago I painted a large still life of hydrangeas in a cobalt vase.  It was okay at the time, but I've learned quite a bit since then and realized the painting had some things that were not quite right.

Original Hydrangeas  

The problem with this original version is that I really liked the top half (the flowers), but was less than thrilled with the bottom.  The white cloth was just not right and the background didn't come down far enough, which made the top plane of the table seem a little off.

However, when I painted this I thought it was fine and I varnished it as soon as it dried.  This is where the experimenting came in.  I had always been under the impression that once something is varnished, there was nothing more you could do with it.  Luckily for me, I use Gamblin Gamvar varnish and it can be removed without damaging the painting.  

I checked the Gamblin website and found out that you could remove the varnish using odorless mineral spirits. They recommend their Gamsol brand, but all I had around was Turpenoid so I crossed my fingers and proceeded to rub down the painting.

 After the Turpenoid rub down

I was quite happy to discover that while the varnish came off, the paint did not.  I then repainted the background, the top plane and the vase.  I tried a few different ways to make the white cloth work, but it just wasn't happening.  Finally I decided to eliminate it all together.

When the cloth had been covered over, I repainted the vase to get all the white reflections out of it and tweaked the leaves underneath the flowers a little bit.

Final Result

This is the finished painting.  Please excuse the iPhone photo.  The light had just about gone when I finished up, but I will have a proper photo taken and posted soon.  I'm very happy with how this whole project turned out.  I have updated and repainted old paintings before, but never something that had been varnished.  I will be doing another next week.  It's very exciting to be able to fix up paintings as you learn new skills.  Next up, an early figure painting that could use a little tweaking.


*Just a note,  I am not compensated in any way by the products I mentioned.  I'm just a satisfied customer.

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