Roses with Blue Cloth

Roses with Blue Cloth," oil on Arches Oil paper, 12x9"
Roses with Blue Cloth,” oil on Arches Oil paper, 12×9″

I made a good start with the drawing and getting the first rose blocked in on my first painting day but sadly, overnight the roses completely changed color and shape, as you can see in the reference photos below.

Clockwise from top left: Photo of roses day 1, Photo of same roses day 2, finished painting, WIP day one with setup.
Clockwise from top left: Photo of roses day 1, Photo of same roses day 2, finished painting, WIP day one with setup.

I had to finish the painting using the reference photo and rediscovered how much fun it can be working from close-up enlarged photos of flowers and glass, looking for all the little nuances and details.

Clockwise from top left: Reference photo, WIP: initial drawing and block-in, second rose added, leaves added.
Clockwise from top left: Reference photo, WIP: initial drawing and block-in, second rose added, leaves added.

I chose the background cloth rather spontaneously. While it appealed to me on the day I set up the still life, I began to regret how intense the color was. I experimented with changing it, but decided it would be better to just finish this painting and make another painting than to try to reinvent the background colors and keep messing with this one.

Working on the background and vases, retouching the flowers
Working on the background and vases, retouching the flowers

Perhaps for my next flower painting I will paint one as a portrait, enlarged, close-up as if I was painting a head and shoulders of a person (like the portrait I’m working on right now). 

White Roses, Grandma’s Vase (and a Great Little Still Life Lamp)

White Roses: Spring Rose Series #7” Oil on Yupo, 12x9”
White Roses: Spring Rose Series #7” Oil on Yupo, 12×9”

I was happy that I met my two goals for this painting: 1) to keep it light and airy and 2) to draw and paint the flowers quickly before they changed or died.

I did the drawing on the first afternoon; painted the flowers and the background and began the vase on the second afternoon. I completed the rest of the painting the next morning, knowing it was my last chance before I’d be out of the studio for a few days. You can see the steps in the process photos below.

When I returned three days later the flowers were quite dead. Although I had a reference photo I could have used to “touch up” a few things, I felt that I’d said what I had to say and for once was willing to let it be as is instead of endlessly trying to perfect things.

Set up with clamp on LED 3-color lamp
Set up with clamp on LED 3-color lamp

One thing that made the painting really enjoyable was the discovery of this inexpensive and wonderful little clamp-on LED light that can be set to provide warm light, cool light or medium temperature light. It provided a perfect amount of directional light for lighting a still life and was easy to clamp on to my foam-core still life shadow box. The side of the box wasn’t quite tall enough so I just clamped on another piece of foam core and attached it to that. Since the light doesn’t weigh much it didn’t need anything more sturdy. No more clutter from a standing lamp or glare in my eyes from big heavy clamp on lights.

Spring Rose Series #6

“Spring Rose Series #6”, oil on Yupo, 12x9”.
“Spring Rose Series #6”, oil on Yupo, 12×9”.

I was careful to get these roses painted in one afternoon, after spending a couple hours arranging the still life and getting the drawing down because I knew the flowers would keep changing. On the second afternoon I worked on the leaves and background. I saved the vase for last, thinking it wouldn’t change. But of course it did, as the flowers slumped and the water level dropped. I wanted to paint it from life, but had trouble making sense of what I was seeing and ended up wiping it off. 

By the next day I had to toss the flowers so I used a photo reference on my iPad of the vase. Two more days of fails and wipe-offs followed. Finally I got to a point where I was willing to declare it done. You can see some of the steps in the process below.

Photo reference and initial block in stages
Photo reference and initial block in stages. Worked on flowers first.
Worked on leaves and background. Tried and failed repeatedly with vase.
Worked on leaves and background. Tried and failed repeatedly with vase.

Spring Rose Series #5 (and #2-#4)

“Spring Rose Series #5” Oil on Yupo, 12x9”
“Spring Rose Series #5” Oil on Yupo, 12×9”

I was happy with this painting of my roses, done from life in 2 1/2 afternoons, especially after having tried and failed several times to paint my neighbor’s pink roses. (See below for photos of the process).

I’d read that oil painting on Yupo paper worked well and was archival so decided to give it a try with a pad of Yupo I’d bought long ago for watercolor. It hadn’t fit my watercolor style then, but I found it very fun to paint on with oils and also easy to wipe off. It’s similar to painting on DuraLar except it’s not transparent.

Photo of setup and steps in the process
Photo of setup and steps in the process of painting above

Every time I tried to paint my neighbor’s roses, I’d get the drawing and block in started, run out of time and the next morning the flowers had slumped or collapsed to the point I’d have to give up, wipe off and start over.

 Roses painting attempt 3 and 4
Roses painting attempt 3 and 4

I finally decided the square oil primed linen panel was jinxed and abandoned it. (Or maybe it was karma? The first bunch I’d taken without permission but even after I’d gotten permission his roses just wouldn’t hold up.)

Rose painting attempt #2
Rose painting attempt #2
Dead Flowers Again!
Dead Flowers Again!

Hanging Lemons: Two paintings and a Candy Jar

Lemon, Candy Dish and a Cosmetic Swab, oil painting on unstretched canvas, 16x12”

Lemon, Candy Dish and a Cosmetic Swab, oil painting on unstretched canvas, 16×12”

I had so much fun painting this hanging lemon and grandma’s candy dish and the previous hanging lemon oil study below. Also scroll down for the fun Procreate color studies and sketches and WIP photos.  I know the candy dish is wonky but I decided I like the wavy distortions.  I’m not sure which I prefer more, the iPad color study or this painting (which is available at my DPW gallery here.)

I’d love to know which you prefer: iPad painting or oil painting? And here is the little hanging lemon painting I did earlier:

Hanging Lemons, oil on Gessobord panel, 7x5"

Hanging Lemons, oil on Gessobord panel, 7×5″

This little painting came first; a fun experiment in composition and hanging things from the wall to paint. The painting is available at my DPW gallery here.

Original color study sketch in Procreate on the iPad. Print is available upon request.

Original color study sketch in Procreate on the iPad. Print is available upon request.

In some ways I prefer this chunky quick study more than the oil painting. I am working towards finding a way to apply what I’ve been doing on the iPad to my oil paintings. Next up on the blog are a series of more of these iPad sketches. Read More

Grandma’s Laundry Sprinkler and Apples

Grandma’s Laundry Sprinkler and Apples, oil on canvas, 9x12 inches

Grandma’s Laundry Sprinkler and Apples, oil on canvas, 9×12 inches. Click Image for Purchase Info

My grandmother ironed everything including underwear and sheets! Doing laundry was a major project. My mother bought her a dryer but she refused to use it, preferring to hang everything out to dry on the backyard clothesline. She dragged her wheeled canvas laundry cart with a big pocket for wooden clothespins (see sketch below) down the stairs and then pinned everything up to dry in the sun.

Before she ironed she sprinkled the stiff, dry laundry with water, using her special sprinkler cork (in painting above) stuffed in a bottle. Steam irons made laundry sprinklers obsolete but I wanted to honor this artifact of my grandma’s life in a painting. A few years ago I also made this sketch of her hanging laundry (below). I always loved playing with the clothespins and hanging out with my sweet grandma on laundry day.

Grandma hanging laundry with her laundry cart, Digital sketch.

Grandma hanging laundry with her laundry cart, Digital sketch.

Here is a photo of the setup (which I painted from life, not from the photo).

Photo of still life set up

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.

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