“One thing I’ve noticed about your oil paintings is that you don’t have the same strong value differences within objects that you do in your watercolors.”
I agreed with her and gave it another go-around, this time adding some dark glazes in the dark area and more lights in the light area. I was working from a photo (since the original artichokes are long gone), so the colors were a little different than the original.
I am so appreciative of the wonderful community of art bloggers and the sharing we do with each other. Laura and I continued the conversation, and talked a bit about plein air painting and impressionism. Then she said:
Your watercolors are pure 21st century YOU. They are clear, strong, bold, and sometimes, though not always, quirky. Your flower paintings are YOU. In oil, it seems to me, anyway, that you’re trying to be someone else or are being encouraged to try to be someone else. That way lies horrible frustration. YOU can use oils in transparent glazes, with shimmering lights and darks, that will feel like you. YOU can use complements to create shadows. YOU can do all those nifty things in oil that you do in watercolor.
What a gift it is to have someone speak from the heart like that. She so hit the nail on the head about what I was struggling with in oil painting. I told her that in watercolor I found my direction early on, knew what I liked, what I wanted to do and developed the skill to do it. In oil I started out wanting to paint like I do in watercolor and everybody told me that “you don’t do that” in oils. I had to learn about the importance of brush strokes, edges, filling the canvas rather than putting an interesting object on a white page, etc. All the books and blogs stressed alla prima, completing a painting a day, impressionism, etc. Somewhere along the way I lost my direction.
I sometimes picture life as a series of turns made when angels have perched on the signpost and pointed in the next good direction to take (sometimes the guides aren’t angels but rather tricksters saying turn left when the correct direction is right — heaven knows I’ve made many unfortunate turns in my life). I think she might have been one of those angels, pointing me back to my right path.
I’m not sure if this version is better than the first. There are definitely more darks, but it seems to have lost its glow, partly due to working from a photo rather than the brightly lit subject. What do you think? Does it need more work or is it overworked?