Friday, April 25, 2014

Faking It

Have you ever, you know, faked it? No, I'm not talking about *that* kind of faking.  But I did fake a large portion of the painting I'm about to show you.  I started this portrait months ago and from the beginning it was not easy.  However, I did have a lovely model so I was determined to make it work.

I started as I usually do,  just getting the placement down and then blocking in the shadows and color.  The problems started when I got to the second sitting.

Some parts of the painting were coming along fine, but others were a mess.  The most difficult part proved to be the hands and the arms.  There was a lot of foreshortening going on with the left arm and I just could not get it right.  Not to mention the hands.  Hands are my nemesis.  It is so hard to paint them correctly.  As time went on I began referring to them as the lobster claws.

As time went on, I became happier with the painting, but overall it just was not working.  My problem was that I was very happy with it from the waist up, so I did not want to paint over it.  I leaned it up against the wall in my studio and went on to other things.

At one point I realized that I was not thrilled with the dress she was wearing.  It was lovely but just did not translate well in the painting.  One day I just put the painting on the easel and painted out the arms of the dress so instead of being form fitting like they really were, they now looked large and flowing.  I also painted out the left hand (definitely the more "lobster claw" of the two).  I had no idea what I was going to do in place of it, but it had to go.

I then forgot about the painting until this week.  I'm currently working on two still life paintings and I am in grape hell with both of them.  After spending days painting and repainting grapes I just could not do it again.  I happened to look over at the painting and the thought popped into my head that if she were holding a bouquet of flowers it would solve a lot of my problems.

Of course, since I had not planned on doing this I did not have a bouquet of flowers available (or a model), hence the faking it.

I just started painting flowers in different colors to form a bouquet.  It was actually pretty easy.  I just used a shadow color, a mid tone and a light.  I did this until it looked large enough to be a bouquet.  Then I painted in the white wrapping paper that is usually used to wrap bunches of flowers.

The trick with the wrapping paper was to get the perspective correct so that it looked like the model was holding it with her (remaining) hand.  I played around a bit until I got it right, then painted out anything that didn't need to be there.

As a friend of mine said, in two hundred years when some art history student is doing an x ray of the painting, they'll see all my changes!

Here is the finished painting.  The only other change I made was to expand the red cloth on the chair.  I just felt that the painting needed something else with color in it so the flowers were a bit more integrated into the painting as a whole.

I'm so relieved and happy to have been able to save this painting.  Now, it's back to the grapes!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Still Life Update

Now that the hydrangeas are finished, I still have three other paintings in the works.  Luckily, yesterday I made a big breakthrough with one of them.  Remember this still life?

As you know, I have been going crazy with this vase.  No matter what I did the shape of it did not look right to me.  Yesterday, I finally realized that I had the shape completely backward.  If you look at the top of the vase, you'll notice that the top is the widest part of the vase.  I had things going in the opposite direction.

I had the widest part of the vase under the highlight.  It's hard to believe that it took so long, but when I realized this yesterday I was finally able to paint the shape correctly.

The vase is now finally painted with the correct shape.  It's hard to believe that I have been looking at this set up for weeks and just realized the problem yesterday, but that happens sometimes.  You look and look and then finally you see the problem.

I'm also happy to report that I finally have the coloring of the pot the way I want it.  If you look at the pot it just looks like an off white vase, but it is so much more than that.  In addition to the dark, middle and lightest shades of white, it has a layer of Indian Yellow over the entire thing.  The vase really needed to be warmed up and this extra layer of paint really helped.  It still needed something else but I was not sure what.  Luckily I was with Gregg yesterday and he suggested using some patches of Transparent Red Oxide and that did the trick.  

I'm very happy that the long saga of the vase is over.  I have to redo the leaves coming out of the pot and I still want to work on the grapes.  I've painted them about ten times already, but I'm still not happy with them.  I'm not worried though.  Eventually one of those grape painting sessions will be the charm and the painting will be finished!

*Just my usual disclaimer.  I was not given products or payment by any of the companies linked to in the post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pink Hydrangeas Redux

Remember I said the pink hydrangeas were done?  Turns out they needed a bit more work.  I went to my studio intending to sign the painting, but you know me.  I found one little thing that needed work and that led to a few other changes.  I'm not sure anyone but me will notice the difference, but here are the updated photos.

This is where I left off last week.  When I went back to the studio I realized a few things.  Number one, the fabrics.    If you look at the right edge of the white cloth you'll notice it is very bright and the highlight on the pot is close to it.  That indicates that the grey cloth that is right next to the white cloth should be brighter as well.

I lightened up the cloth and darkened up the shadow so now the white cloth looks more like it is sitting on top of the grey fabric.

The second issue I wanted to deal with was in the flower arrangement itself.  The flower on the right is the one that was closest to my light source so it needed to be lightened up a bit.  In real life it did not look that much different from the others, but for the painting, it needed to pop a bit.

The middle flower also needed some work.  Gregg taught me that with flower arrangements, one flower should always be the star.  I decided to pump up the color on that flower to make it stand out a bit from the rest.

This is the "finished" shot I posted on Instagram.  Of course ten minutes later I decided the flowers needed a little more work so I added a few more light and dark petals and then it was really done.

This is it!  I'm not going to touch it again.  I know this sounds like a lot of excruciating minutiae, but I did not want to call the painting done until it was the very best it could be.

I'm still working on the still life I showed you last week.  Despite my hopes of having it done yesterday, it is slow going.  That vase is not easy, but I'm hoping it will be done soon.

Have a good day everybody!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Working On A New Still Life

I began work on this still life a few weeks ago, but put it aside to start a figure painting.  I took a look at it yesterday and realized that it needed some adjustments.  I put the background in again and got to work.

This was the original set up.  A pretty standard still life, but getting  the shape of this vase was no easy task.  It is very old and not perfectly symmetrical.  In real life it is not that noticeable, but in the painting it looked way off so I made some adjustments.

This was the first session.  Just the background and a block in of the shadows and local colors.

Day two was more of the same.  Just trying to get the colors and shapes right.

This is a bad iPhone photo I snapped at the end of a third crazy painting session.  I was painting away thinking I was going to finish before my model started.  After this session I put the painting aside and had not thought too much about it until yesterday.  I walked into my studio and realized it needed some serious work.

First up, the vase.  It may be a quirky, vintage piece in real life, but in the painting it just looked like I got my dimensions wrong.  I worked on getting the correct shape, then repainted the entire thing.

I also got out the t-square and redid the lines of the shelf to make them as even as possible.

I also pumped up the grapes, redid the orange slice and made some changes to the white cloth.

This is where I left off yesterday.  I'll be back at work on this today.  I'm much happier with how things are going.  There are some changes to the original set up, but that is the great thing about oil paint.  If something is not working, you can just paint right over it!

By the way, I keep forgetting to tell you guys that I'm on Instagram.  You can follow me here.

Have a great weekend everybody.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Pink Hydrangeas

I've got an update on the hydrangeas, but first I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Tina of The Enchanted Home.  I got the thrill of my life when I opened my email this morning to find out that Tina would be featuring me on her amazing blog today.  She posted a feature showcasing some of her  customers and how they are using the products from her shop.  The pot my hydrangeas are planted in came from The Enchanted Home shop and I love it!  Thank you, Tina,  and welcome visitors from The Enchanted Home.

I spent most of yesterday working on the hydrangeas as I wanted to finish them up.  Unlike other props, flowers are on their own time.  Luckily, I just had to darken up the shadows on the flowers and they were done.  Next it was on to the pot.  Pots, especially white pots, don't usually go down in one sitting. I painted it in over the weekend, but yesterday realized it was not quite right so did it over.  I ended up repainting the pot and the pattern six times, but it is worth it to keep going as long as it takes to get it right.  I'm very happy with the way it came out.

It took awhile to get the highlight in the right place

I then softened up the white tablecloth

For the final touch I added some flower petals to the table

Here is the finished painting.  There were so many coats of paint that I couldn't sign it, but I'll take care of that today.

Now I'm back to work on my model.  Have a great day everybody!