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.

Another Semi-Fail Flower

Matilija Poppy, oil on canvas, 8.5” x 11.5 inches
Matilija Poppy, oil on canvas, 8.5” x 11.5 inches

The only thing I like in this painting is the Matilija poppy and maybe the shadows. I’ve painted Matilija Poppies (much better) before like this one that also appears in the book “The Watercolor Artists Bible” along with several other of my watercolors. For some reason I find it much harder to paint flowers successfully in oils.

I started this mostly yucky painting by first using Procreate to design a color plan to work from (below) that I unfortunately didn’t exactly stick to. I like the digital version much better. Then I did a black and white underpainting in acrylic before painting in oils.

Color plan done in Procreate and black and white photo for values
Color plan done in Procreate and black and white photo for values
Photo of set up
Photo of set up

Semi-Fail Flower Sketch

Stolen Vine, Gouache on watercolor paper, 11x8.5 inches
Stolen Vine, Gouache on watercolor paper, 11×8.5 inches

I painted this sketch from life in gouache from a piece of a vine I ripped off a neighbor’s fence (they’ve moved and the house is being sold so nobody cares). I started with the flowers, which was a good thing because they shriveled quickly.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to post things that weren’t successful but I guess I appreciate seeing other people’s fails, so why not. I was happy with my drawing but just couldn’t get the gouache to work the way I wanted and the pitcher got really muddy and icky colored. At least I got the drawing pretty close to reality. Below is a photo of the setup.

Photo of the setup

Testing Acryla Gouache with Figs and Daffodils

Last figs before pruning, gouache in journal
Last figs before pruning, gouache in journal

I tested the Holbein Acryla Gouache Mixing Set with the last figs from my tree before it got pruned for the winter. Working with the Acryla Gouache seems less like gouache and more like a somewhat more opaque, matte acrylic paint. I’ve been told it works well for underpainting under regular gouache or even oil paints. You can also use acryla gouache over regular gouache to correct problems, which I tried in the painting below.

Daffodils in gouache and acrylic gouache, 8.5” x 11.5” on hot press paper
Daffodils in gouache and acrylic gouache, 8.5” x 11.5” on hot press paper

I painted these daffodils in gouache on hot press paper (which I don’t think works well for gouache…not sure yet). Then I added acrylic gouache over the top to try to fix the mess I made because I had been lazy with drawing the ellipses on the glass…got a little over confident and thought I could just whip them out. But I couldn’t, hence massive corrections and then just giving up.

It’s so simple: get the drawing right first!

Rose in Mom’s Milk Glass Vase

Rose in Mom’s Milkglass Vase, oil on Dura-Lar, 12×9″

This was a fun two afternoon painting. Below are the steps in the work in progress and photo of the setup. This was painted about a year after my mother passed away. It’s poignant to be painting some of her special glassware.

Rose in Mom's Milkglass Vase, Procreate sketch on iPad.

Rose in Mom’s Milkglass Vase, Procreate sketch on iPad.

iPad on the easel with still life set up

iPad on the easel with still life set up

Photo of the set up

Photo of the set up

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