Saturday, May 13, 2017

Painting Lilacs

Hi All!  I'm glad to be back.  Even though it is pouring rain and freezing here in NYC, the flowers are still blooming and I just finished a bouquet of lilacs.  I've had a lot going on and missed out on some painting days, but the end of last week I picked up two bouquets of and got to work.

Before I started on the flowers, I spent some time getting the canvas ready.  I actually started on this painting back in April.  I knew I wanted to have everything ready so that when I got the flowers I could just concentrate on them.

This was my sad little set up.  I mostly wanted to get a few coats of paint on the background so I would not have to worry about painting around the flowers.

This was the end of the first day.  After this, I just kept painting over the canvas.  I'm not sure how many coats are on there.  It is at least five.  I normally would not do a painting this way, but with certain flowers, it is a lot easier to not have to worry about the background when you are trying to deal with tiny petals and leaves.

Finally, it was time for the lilacs.  I have to say, it was a bit difficult to find them this year.  After running all over the city looking for a decent bunch, I found these at the flower shop on 62nd and Lex.  I put them in the vase and got to work.

This was the first pass at the flowers.  I have to say, they went on to the canvas pretty easily.  Of course, the rest of the painting made me want to tear my hair out, but the fact that the flowers were not an issue is important as they have a deadline.

Last Monday, I spotted these beauties at the farmers market, so I grabbed two bunches.  I figured I would have one bouquet at home and one at the studio for replacements.  Unfortunately, despite being told they were freshly cut, they barely lasted two days.  I ended up using some of them for flowers on my still life shelf.  Happily, the lilacs from the tiny flower shop lasted almost a week, so I was able to get the bouquet done.

Here we are at what I thought was the end of the flowers.  I think I just put three coats on them and I did not really deviate much from the first time I painted them.  However, the glass vase and the shelf were another story.  The vase drove me nuts.  I just could not get it to look like a glass vase.  I lost count of how many times I repainted it.  And I could not get the water line to behave.  Finally, I realized what was wrong.  To paint glass, all you have to do is obscure the lines of the piece.  Mine were still far too prominent.  The other issue is that my vase was completely dark.  I had light on the background, but not in the glass vase.  I wiped the whole thing down, lightened up a good portion of it, repainted the stems and used a small t-square and to draw a new water line. I also had to redo the highlight a few times.

At this point I thought I was done except for the pattern on the creamer, but in my brain I was hearing Gregg Kreutz telling me to lighten the lights and darken the darks, so that is what I did.

Lilacs In A Glass Vase, 20x16, oil

And here we are at the grand finale.  I struggled through a lot of this painting and the reason I write about it is because so many people think painting is easy and when it is not going well, artists who are struggling tend to blame themselves or think they are doing something wrong.  You are not.  Anybody who makes art will have pieces that practically paint themselves and others that are difficult from the moment you start.  The trick is to keep going even when it is not fun and you feel like you want to throw the painting out the window.  I'm already on to a new one, peonies this time!


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