Wedding Bouquet (FIXED!)

Wedding Bouquet (Fixed), oil on panel, 10x8"

Wedding Bouquet (Fixed), oil on panel, 10×8″

Thank you to everyone who responded to my previous post and offered feedback about whether to try to fix the right-hand rose that was bugging me. I figured if everyone said leave it I would, but if others saw the problem too, I’d try again to fix it. They did, so I did, and now I can look at it without feeling frustrated.

To solve the problems with the rose, I turned the photo and the painting upside down and could immediately see I had the shape wrong. Then I converted the photo to gray-scale to check values. I reshaped and repainted the rose using grayed-down, paler colors. I touched up a few other spots in the painting (back top right flowers, some leaves and small changes to both left roses). I added a black border to simulate how it will be framed.

Now I think the focal point (the middle rose) stands out, and the minor right rose recedes. FYI, the reason these roses don’t look that rose-like is because although I started working from life, I could quickly see that the flowers were about to completely fall apart (it was several days after the wedding) so I took a photo of the almost over roses.

Below Left (AFTER): fixed final painting; Below Right (BEFORE): before adjustments and fixes.

Wedding Bouquet (Finished or Fix?)

Wedding Bouquet, oil on linen panel, 10x8"

Wedding Bouquet, oil on linen panel, 10×8″

I started this painting of my daughter-in-law’s wedding flowers soon after the wedding in January 2014 but wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out so set it aside. I began reworking it again recently, and after several times reaching a point of saying, “Finished” and then working on it some more, I remembered the saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned” and decided it was simply time to stop.

But there’s still one thing that bugs me in this painting: the pink rose on the right just feels too Barbie pink to me. Every time I look at the painting it irks me. But I’ve repainted it 5 times and perhaps because the photo I’m working from isn’t very good, especially of that rose, it keeps turning out the same. I may try one more time. What do you think? Leave it or try again? Or maybe find another photo of the set up with a different view of that rose and try again from that photo?

My challenge in painting is always how to maintain the freshness of my original inspiration, color choices and brush strokes while holding back my inner perfectionist who wants to keep noodling around forever. Another challenge with returning to an older painting is that the fresh flowers are long gone and only a so-so photo remains to work from. Likewise all my new fresh ideas about painting have to be set aside to work on something from the point of view of a year ago.

Sunflowers in Spaghetti Jar

Sunflowers in Spaghetti Jar, oil on panel, 6x6 inches

Sunflowers in Spaghetti Jar, oil on panel, 6×6 inches

This was supposed to be a quick and easy project that went totally out of control. I wanted to try out Arches Oil Paper and quickly paint a bouquet of sunflowers in a tall glass jar meant for holding spaghetti noodles. I made and transferred a sketch (see below for process) and started painting on the paper, which I absolutely hated. It was dry, absorbent and paint wouldn’t slide or move on it. It just sucked in the paint and I was having no fun. I quit halfway through and cut off the parts of the painting I hadn’t finished. This is where I left it:

Sunflowers in Spaghetti Jar, oi studyl on Arches Oil Paper , 8x10 inches

Session 1: Sunflowers in Spaghetti Jar, oi study on Arches Oil Paper , 8×10 inches

The next day I started over on a 6×6 inch panel that I’d sanded down from a previous failed painting. Again I intended to paint for an hour or two and move on to something else. Instead I worked and reworked over and over until I finally had a painting I could stand to look at (at top of post). Sometimes I think reusing panels is a mistake because the bad juju from the first one hangs around and messes up the next one.

The one nice thing about Arches Oil Paper is that it can be cut down and cropped easily like watercolor paper. Although it does not need to be gessoed I’m going to try gesso on it next time to see if that will make it more enjoyable to use.

Below are the process photos from start to finish.The painting on paper is Version 1 and on panel is V2. The ones labeled “Photoshopped” were photos of work in progress adjusted in Photoshop to try to solve the problems and then the next image is those changes implemented in the painting. If you’d like more detail about the process you can open this PDF of my full process chart with notes about each step.

Sunflowers in Old Crock

Sunflowers in Found Crock, oil on linen panel, 8x8 in

Sunflowers in Found Crock, oil on linen panel, 8×8 in. Click image to enlarge.

I found this wonderful old crock set out on the curb, adorned with a “Free” sign so I carried it home for my “Found Stuff” painting series. One handle had broken off but the owner had thoughtfully placed the pieces inside and I glued it back together. I love the way the flowers are reflected and shadowed on the crock. The painting is available here. Below are photos of the work in progress.

It takes two to paint. One to paint, the other to stand by with an axe to kill him before he spoils it. William Merrit Chase 

My biggest painting goal is to stop what I call “unauthorized painting” — I finish part of a painting, like it and write my plan for that area: “Don’t touch it!” Later I decide to just do a little “touching up” and the next thing I know I am wishing for a “REWIND” button as I try to wipe off the “unauthorized” paint. Where’s the guy with the axe when I need him? I need to draw him, axe and all, and stick it on my easel!

If you’d like more details about each session’s goals, my thoughts, missteps and corrections, click Autumn Sunflowers and Found Crock (PDF) to open the chart. As promised in my last post, here is a Session Template (click to DOWNLOAD Word file), for anyone who would like to use or modify it to track their own work. I’ll also post it on my Resources Page.

 

Two Sunflower Survivors with Process Chart

Two Survivors, oil painting of sunflowers and white vase on linen panel, 7x5 in

Two Survivors, oil painting on linen panel, 7×5 in

Persistence, patience, perseverance, determination, curiosity, courage, confidence, wonder…these are all qualities needed to become a better painter. Another essential is learning to really see and understand the subject. I titled this painting (available hereTwo Survivors because only these two survived from the big bouquet during the week I struggled with two previous sunflower “studies” (aka failed paintings). Sometimes it takes a while before the “blinders” fall away so that I can see the shapes, colors, and values instead of the named bits (e.g. petal, leaf, or nose) that interfere with seeing as a painter.

I was inspired by artist Chris Beaven (whose sunflower painting I purchased and love) by his Session Detail charts that he embeds at the end of each post (sample). I modified his chart to create one for myself to focus my goals and intentions for each session and the painting as a whole. Completing  the chart at the end of each painting session with image, results and plans/goals for the next session is making a big difference in my process and helps me avoid random, unfocused messing about with paint.

Below is the chart I used for this painting. If you’d like to see all three session charts for this painting with my notes about goals, composition mistakes and corrections, and corresponding images, click here to open 3-page PDF file.

Session 1 Detail Chart (Click image to enlarge or click PDF link above to see all 3 sessions)

I loved the original painting of the vase in Session 1 above, with wonderful warm highlights and cool shadows created by the new LED lightbulb I’m experimenting with. My intuition told me to leave the vase alone but instead I started adding the pattern from the actual vase. After a few strokes I realized I didn’t like it and tried to wipe the pattern off the still wet paint. Then I tried to return to the original shapes of color, temperature and value.

I revised the chart layout after this painting. In my next post (another sunflower still life) I’ll include the completed chart for that painting’s 6 sessions and a blank template for anyone who wants to experiment using or modifying it for their own artwork sessions.

Shower Flowers Sketches: Dahlias, Pansies and Paper Bootie

More Shower Flowers: Pansies, ink and watercolor, 8x5"

More Shower Flowers: Pansies and Paper Bootie, ink and watercolor, 8×5″

My daughter-in-law’s mother (Why is there no name for this important family relationship: “Son’s Mother-in-law” and “Daughter-in-law’s mother” are so awkward!) decorated Brittney’s baby shower so brilliantly. She covered the tables with colorful vases filled with dahlias and a little pot of pansies at each place setting. She decorated the walls with banners hung with pages from all our favorite old Little Golden Books classics.

I took home my pansies to sketch (above) and a vase of dahlias to sketch (below) and paint (see previous post). Each place setting also included a little baby bootie (in sketch below) that she made from different decorative papers and filled with chocolate.

Shower Flowers Sketch: Dahlias, ink and watercolor 2-page spread in Moleskine 16x5"

Shower Flowers Sketch: Dahlias, ink and watercolor 2-page spread in Moleskine 16×5″

Shower Flowers

Dahlias-Shower Flowers, oil on panel, 10x8 in

Dahlias: Shower Flowers, oil on panel, 10×8 in (Click image to enlarge)

I brought these amazing dahlias home from my daughter-in-law’s baby shower and had fun painting them. (The painting is available here.) The baby shower happened just in time as our beautiful baby girl came a month early (so exciting!). Below are some of the steps in the process. I always seem to like the earliest stages of a painting best; my biggest challenge is to stop painting sooner than I usually do. I have a new system for setting an intention and goal for each painting and each painting session and documenting the results and I’ll be sharing more about that in my next post.

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