Saturday, May 7, 2016

It Takes A Village To Make A Painting

Today I am talking about the new painting that I mentioned in my last post.  It felt like this painting took forever, but when I started gathering my images, I realized that I started it on March 4th.  That was only two months ago, but it felt much longer.  This painting was very difficult, and without the help of some good friends, I would not have been able to finish it.

This was the original set up.  I've never painted a square vase like this, and it was a bit of a challenge.

As always, I started out by getting the set up blocked in.  This required a lot of quality time with my new BFF, the T-square.

It took hours to get the correct dimensions of the vase on to the canvas.  Every time I thought I had it, I would find something that was off.  Very frustrating to say the least.

Finally, it was time to get started on the background and the rest of the painting.  Things were not quite perfect, but I felt I just had to move on and start on the painting as a whole.

This isn't bad, but if you look closely, the vase seems a bit off.  I went nuts measuring and trying to figure out what was wrong, but I had no luck.  I just kept moving along.

I put in the blue pattern and put the shadows onto the white cloth.  I was still not happy, but could not figure out the cause of the problem.

When the background was completely dry, I put in the flowers and finished up the white cloth.  After sitting on it for a few days, I woke up at five am and decided to just wipe the whole thing down and forget it.  Luckily, my hubs was not having it.  When we walked into my studio building that day, he announced to my studio mates that I was going to wipe down the painting.  They vehemently objected and practically ran into my studio and threw themselves in front of it!  I'm so glad that they did, because it all worked out in the end and now I love the painting.

We all stood in my studio looking at the painting and they gave me some good advice on how to fix up a few areas.  Most important, the right side of the vase needed to be lighter, and the shadows on the bottom were way too dark. Shadows should not be in a jagged line, and the too dark bottom of the vase was taking away from the shadow on the left hand side.

I put those suggestions into action right away and they definitely helped, but things were still not quite right so I decided it was time to call in the big guns.  I packed the painting up and brought it over to Gregg's studio*.  Schlepping on the subway with a large, wet painting was not an easy task, but I'm so glad I did it because Gregg took one look at the painting and immediately saw the problem.

The reason my perspective was off no matter how much I measured and checked my lines is because I had no top plane on the vase!!  I had absolutely no idea that I was missing it because the vase is large and I am short so from my vantage point I could not see the top of it.  Gregg suggested drawing a line across the top of the vase.  I did and like magic, the perspective was correct.

The other problem that Gregg pointed out was my white cloth.  If you look at the photo above, you can see that I laid in the color using the shadow, mid tone, light formula.  However, this was not how the cloth was reading.  The shadows in the folds were the darkest part of the cloth.  Once I got that in, the rest of it flowed pretty easily.

I brought the painting back home and after looking at it for awhile, decided it needed something on the lower half to tie into the flowers on top.  I had bought the original bouquet in a florist shop near my studio and did not think I would be able to get another, but I got very lucky when I stopped into Trader Joe's to do some food shopping.  I always check out the bouquets for sale and buried deep in the back was one bouquet of the flowers I needed.  I grabbed it up and got to work integrating the colors of the flowers on the top half of the canvas to the rest of the painting.

This is where I left off yesterday, but after looking at it today, I decided it needed a little bit more debris, as David Leffel calls it.

I added a few more flower buds to the shelf and the white cloth as well as adding some of the floral color to the shelf.    I'm sure no one would have noticed either way, but being obsessive about these little details are what makes a painting truly finished.

This is the finished painting.  I'm so happy that I did not wipe it down so THANK YOU to everyone who made sure that did not happen!

*PS - if you don't mind a plug for a friend, Gregg Kreutz's new book, Oil Painting Essentials, is coming out on May 24th.  I learned everything I know from him, so if you are interested in my style of painting, hop over to Amazon and take a look!

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