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.
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.
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.
There’s a mysterious house on my block that has been empty but well maintained for several years. The mailman delivers mail and the gardening service keeps things nice and neat but I never see anyone go in or out.
Their roses and fruit trees are blooming but there’s nobody home to enjoy them. So I stopped by with my scissors to give the roses a little respect by painting them, even if it means stealing them (as I’ve done before). These were yummy fun to paint!
After all the struggles of the previous day, I was determined to succeed in painting a rose and decided to give myself a break. First I rearranged the colors in the palette, putting them in my prefered, mostly color-wheel order instead of helter skelter as they were, and replaced several colors (see below for color chart).
(WN=Winsor Newton, S=Schmincke, DS= Daniel Smith, H=Holbein):
Top Row: WN Transparent Yellow, S Cadmium Yellow Light, DS New Gamboge, S Cadmium Red Light, WN Permanent Alizarin, WN Permanent Rose.
Middle Row: WN Violet, S Ultramarine, WN Cobalt Blue, H Cerulean Blue, WN Winsor Blue, DS Indanthrone Blue.
Bottom Row: S Thalo Green, WN Sap Green, S Yellow Ochre, WN Burnt Sienna, DS Indigo, S Titanium White (the latter will probably be removed since I’ve never successfully been able to incorporate white into watercolors).
The other thing I did to give myself a break was that after I made the second to last rose sketch above from life, I decided to work from a photo of the rose.