This is how I started off. At the time, I thought the set up was ok, but looking back I can see that it had a few issues.
I added another flower to the side and got to work. As usual with my paintings, the flowers went in right away, while the rest of it took forever.
This is what I ended up with. Not good at all, so I put it aside and forgot about it.
Awhile later, I picked it up again and redid the red velvet cloth and repainted the background to have a stronger contrast between the darks and lights. It was definitely better than before, but still not great.
During the next round of "edits" I decided that the shape of the vase was incorrect. I started out by redoing the shape and using the T-square to make sure it was right. I then repainted it making the darks darker and the lights lighter.
This is where I ended up. I signed it and everything, but I still knew it was not quite right. The painting went back in the pile leaning against my studio wall.
Luckily, I happened to be working on a painting in Gregg's studio and I was using a blue velvet fabric in that set up. As I was setting it up, he told me to make sure the fabric was placed in a way that flowed across the canvas. Lightbulb!! I instantly knew what was wrong with the sunflowers. The red fabric was just hanging out on the left side all by itself. This was causing the painting to be divided up into thirds. Not what you want in a still life. You want the eye of the viewer to look from left to right.
I got the painting out again and made some serious changes.
I started by bringing the red velvet fabric across the canvas so it was integrated in to the painting.
I also decided to lose the giant sunflower on the right side of the shelf. It was contributing to the unbalanced look of the canvas. I added these nectarines and a few sunflower petals (debris, as David Leffel refers to these little additions to the still life shelf).
The only issue left was to add a little life to the red velvet. When you are painting a velvet fabric, you don't want to add too much detail or you lose the "velvetiness" (a technical term) of it, but it cannot be a monochromatic lump either. A few gentle highlights are all you need. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
Finally, here is the finished painting.
Unfortunately, these are iPhone shots. My paintings are taking their sweet time drying with the humidity here, but I hope to have a real photo soon.
I know this post was a bit photo heavy, but I wanted to show you that not every painting happens easily. There are often mistakes and corrections that have to be made along the way, but it is always worth it to create the best painting that you can.