Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Was Getting Ready to Paint Some Hydrangeas...

Last week at TJ's they had some beautiful hydrangea plants, so of course I had to buy one to use in a still life.

Pretty, right?  I was all set up and ready to go, when I happened to look over to my left and spotted a canvas that I had decided to paint over.  I decided to put that canvas on my easel and take a good look at it.  A few weeks ago I was planning to paint over it, but Gregg was emphatic that I leave it alone and try to work on it.  I don't know why, but I picked up a brush, dipped it into some cadmium red light and started painting.

I never even stopped to take pictures or take one before I started.  This was a figure painting I did a few years ago.  It was one of my first and not great, though it did have some good aspects to it (the head, face and upper body).  The rest of it was not great.  I also felt that the shadow lines were way too harsh around the right shoulder and on both sides of the neck.

I've painted models in wraps before, so once I got started I just went with it.  It's hard to tell in the photo, but in person it looks like she just threw a very sheer wrap over herself.  I also lightened up the dark lines so they did not stand out so much.

I'm much happier with the painting now.  Just last week Gregg and I were discussing adjusting or updating old paintings and how being able to do that is a real sign of progress for an artist.  Needless to say I'm very happy I was able to do fix this painting and I have started on another updating project.

This photo is not the best, but the light was gone at this point.  If it ever stops raining and the painting dries I will take a proper photo and put it in the drop down menu.

I did finally start the hydrangeas that day as well and they are coming along.  The flowers are already done. Now it is time to start work on the planter.

I quickly put in the placement and background after finishing the figure.  The next day I got down to work with the plant itself.

  I hope to have this painting finished up in a few days.  One thing about flowers, you can't just sit around and procrastinate.  They are on their own timetable.  I'll post the finished photos as soon as I'm done.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunflowers 2.0

Hi Everybody.  Yes, I'm still alive!  I've been doing a lot of painting, but until this past Sunday, did not have a completed painting to show you.  Remember last summer and fall I was knocking out paintings left and right?  Well, sometime around December, that all changed.  I have at least six paintings that I'm working on, but none that are "done".

Happily, I think things are turning around.  You may remember that I painted these sunflowers over the summer.

Above is the original set up and this shot is what I thought was the finished painting.  I was happy with the flowers as soon as they went in, but the rest of it was a struggle and it just never seemed quite right to me.  After spending a few months analyzing it, I realized a few things.  The background was too dark, the velvet cloth was not flowing, and the biggest problem:  the vase was too flat.

On Saturday I arrived at my studio and just started painting.  For whatever reason things were flowing and the painting is now so much better.  I lightened up the background and re-did the red cloth.  Just those two things made a huge difference.  Then it was time to get to the hard part:  the vase.

White objects and cloth can be very difficult to paint.  It usually takes more than a few times to get it right.

See the difference with the lighter background and the fixed up red cloth?  The whole painting was looking muddy and I'm so happy that is gone.  I then outlined the vase one more time and commenced with the re-painting.  I really darkened up the shadow (by mixing in some of the green background to the white mixture) and then added my medium and light whites.  I brought the lightest white over to the opposite end of the vase in order to make the vase appear round and not flat like it had been before.

Things were looking a lot better, but I was still not completely satisfied, so another coat of the white colors went on.

Now that I finally had the fullness and roundness of the vase that I wanted, it was time to put the highlight in.  People are always surprised when I put the highlight in before the pattern, but this is one of the first lessons that Gregg Kreutz (my teacher) taught me.  You have to make sure that your whites are dark enough so that your highlight stands out.  If you wait until you are finished, you may end up having to do the whole painting over.   If you look at the above photo, you can see that the highlight is sitting on the white just where it should be.

At this point my light was gone, so on Sunday I went back to the studio and got right to work on the pattern.  The secret to doing the pattern is to paint the darks and lights just like you would any other aspect of the painting.  The pattern is blue, so I have Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue in the shadow portion, plain Ultramarine Blue on the bottom of the vase and Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White on the lightest portion.

Here is the finished painting still wet on the easel!  As soon as it dries a bit I'll take a real photo of it and post it in the floral drop down menu.  I'm so happy with this painting now.  I'm hoping this is a good sign and all of the other in progress paintings will be done soon.  Have a great day everybody!