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!

Spring Rose Series #1

“Spring Rose Series #1”, Oil on Linen Panel, 10x8”
“Spring Rose Series #1”, Oil on Linen Panel, 10×8”

My roses have started their spring parade of long stem blooms and I can’t resist painting them even though I’m allergic to their scent. This painting started a whole series that went from OK (this one) to 5 total fails (each painted on top of the previously scraped one), to one I declared successful, which I’ll post next time.

See photos of the setup and work in progress below. 

Roses in Mom’s Antique Yellow Glass Bowl

Rose in Mom's Antique Yellow Glass Bowl, 8x8" Oil on Panel

Rose in Mom’s Antique Yellow Glass Bowl, 8×8″ Oil on Panel

I’ve been working on doing Alla Prima (all at once) paintings in order to become more decisive about the paint I put down instead of noodling around. It requires getting the drawing right, understanding what I’m seeing and if it fails, starting again instead of trying to keep fixing, which usually goes badly. This was the third attempt at painting a rose in my mom’s yellow glass bowl. The previous attempts and photos of the set up (as the rose opened) are below.

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.

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