Gardening Life in general Oil Painting Painting Photos Plants Still Life

Humble Hydrangeas; Antidote to Procrastination

Humble Hydrangeas
Humble Hydrangeas

These humble but persistent hydrangeas were still blooming outside my kitchen window, despite suffering through drought then rain and cold.  Their leaves were few, gray and blotchy and the stems were bent and woody but the flowers just weren’t giving up.

While I worked on the painting I was thinking about humility. I’ve discovered that being humble is a good antidote to procrastination.

When I think that I have to be “good” at something (especially painting), it creates fear that I won’t be. Then I find myself either procrastinating or, if it strikes while I’m painting, reworking a painting again and again because it’s not “perfect” yet.

I’ve found that the best way to step out of that rut of perfectionism is to focus on being honestly humble and not worry about being good, better, best, or perfect. All I have to be is humble little me and like the hydrangeas, just hang in there and shine forth.

About the painting:

I was trying to see and paint light and make good use of color temperature and value contrasts to model the form. I started by doing a monochrome underpainting in acrylic, but didn’t really like the way the acrylic paint kind of ruined the wonderful texture of the ArtBord.  Here are the steps along the way:

1 & 2 are photos of the still life set up, the second in black and white to look at values.

Art supplies Art theory Life in general Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Procrastination & Painting Pomegranates

Pomegranate and seeds, oil on Gessobord, 9x12
Pomegranate and seeds, oil painting on Gessobord, 9x12"

I never thought I was a procrastinator but after a week’s vacation meant to be spent painting but rarely getting into the studio until early afternoon at best, I began to look at how I’ve spent my time this week and had trouble figuring out where it had gone.

Then l saw this incredibly creative and well-made four-minute movie on YouTube entitled “Procrastination.” I could see myself in every single scene (except maybe smoking).  If you’ve ever procrastinated getting started on a creative project out of fear of failure, perfectionism, artist’s or writer’s block or any other reason, this video and will make you laugh (or cry).

About the painting:

I discovered Gessobord this week and fell in love with the wonderful surface of these panels. They’re smooth but have a texture that sort of bites into the paint and grabs it, as well as enhancing the colors of the paint. It’s really amazing and is a total pleasure to paint on with oil paints. I wish they were less expensive, but they’re still cheaper than pre-stretched canvas, especially when purchased on sale online.

Instead of trying to do a one or two hour painting and finishing this still life in one chunk, I had to do this one in several short sessions over a period of a few days (because of procrastination and various holiday events and other responsibilities).

I paused and studied the painting, and saw that I needed to improve the composition and values:

Stopping point before analyzing and improving value contrasts
Stopping point to analyze problems

I looked at the painting and the set-up through a piece of red plastic (which elimates the color, emphasizing values) and could see that I needed to darken the background and the inside of the fruit on the left side. I also added the seeds and stains on the cutting board to avoid so much empty space and lead the eye into the painting.

The pomegrantate (already less than fresh when I started) got less attractive and eventually I had to stop and call the painting finished.  I think it will serve as a good stepping stone to the next as I try to put more “miles” on my brushes. And now to stop procrastinating and focus on starting that next painting!

Ooops…when I posted what I thought was the “finished” painting (at bottom) a few minutes ago and then posted this photo of the set-up from day one, I could see that the color of the pom needed to be warmer and the background cooler so I just applied a dark cool glaze to the background and a warm red glaze on some of the pom and posted the finished picture at the top of the post. Now I’m done (I think).

Photo of set-up on day one
Pomegranate and seeds, oil on Gessobord, 9x12
Thought I was finished but more work needed