Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Story Of The Lilacs

It's been a busy few weeks over here, but I did manage to finally finish my lilacs.  I just edited the photos and was stunned to discover that I started this painting back on May 11th!  I was in the middle of a few other paintings, but I happened upon this giant bunch of lilacs at the Union Square Greenmarket and no way could I pass up painting them.



I knew I would have to get the flowers done before anything else, so I painted over an old panel.  This way I didn't have to worry about needing to build up layers of paint.


Once I got my block in done, I immediately started on the flowers.


Sorry for the darkness.  The beginning of this painting was done during a pouring rain storm, but you can see how I did the lilacs.  Shadow, mid tone, light.  Once I had that in, I was able to put down the petals.


I continued building up the layers on the flowers.  I knew as long as they were done, I could finish the rest of the painting later.  Of course, I was breaking the big rule about working on the whole painting at once, but with flowers you sometimes have to do that.



Eventually the time came and the flowers went to the great beyond.  This is the sad little set up that  was left behind.  It was also around this time that I took my painting break.  I just recently got back to work on this canvas.


The first day back,  I redid the background and the color on the vase.  It took quite a bit of doing to get the color of the porcelain right.  I think I did the white colors five or six times to get it right.  I was still having problems when fate intervened and I dropped the painting!  I went to grab it and my hand brushed right across the shadow side and that really helped integrate the colors and it finally looked like a vintage porcelain vase.  Luckily it also fell face up.  Sometimes there are happy accidents in the studio :)

I let it dry for a day, then got started on the blue pattern.  There are different views on whether or not to do the pattern right away, but if I have the time, I prefer to let the painting dry for a day so that I can wipe out the pattern if necessary.  It is too nerve wracking to have to worry about making a mistake.



I always start with the darks.  To make the dark of a blue pattern, I simply add some Ivory Black into my French Ultramarine.




Next up, the mid tone blue.  That is just straight French Ultramarine out of the tube.






Then it was time to deal with the highlight.  If you look at the photos above, you can see that I already had the highlight on the vase.  You should always put the highlight in early so you can properly judge your colors, but I always end up redoing it when the pattern goes in.

Of course, the colors around the highlight will be lighter than the mid tone, so I added some Titanium White to the French Ultramarine.

The key to all of this with the colors is to use different brushes for each color and to be careful about keeping them separated.




This highlight and the surrounding area took quite a bit of time.  I even posted on Instagram that it was taking all day.  But then a funny thing happened.  All of a sudden everything started working and I finished the entire painting!


Originally, I was going to try to find some lilacs somewhere, even if they were faux, but I just decided to try and fake it and after a few layers of flowers on the shelf, the painting was done.



Here is the finished painting.  I'm so happy that this all worked out.  I actually considered waiting to finish until next spring when lilacs will be in bloom again, but I'm really glad I took a chance and finished the painting.  Hope you like it!

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