In quarantine I started getting groceries delivered instead of risking going into stores. So when I ordered red peppers and received green ones, which I hate, I decided to paint them instead.
I was feeling anxious and exhausted and afraid I’d just make something ugly if I tried to paint so I gave myself permission to just go make an ugly painting. I even intentionally made it uglier by shining a warm light on the still life, which muddied the bright greens and yellows.
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.
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.
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.
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).
After taking cuttings from my neighbor’s yard (with permission this time) I painted these from life but had to finish them from a photo after the flowers died. I experimented with starting with an acrylic underpainting but I’m so unskilled with acrylics that it didn’t really create a useful value-study underpainting as you can see below.
I’m still trying to find my way with roses. I’m quite attracted by simplified, more abstract ways of painting flowers, but my own tendencies towards detail always seems to override my intentions. Maybe if I painted really large, I could put in all the details, turning them into abstract shapes? Hmmmm…..
I was excited when I found these peonies at Trader Joe’s and wanted to try to paint them. Maybe they’re not native to the Bay Area since I’d never seen them in person before, only in other artists’ paintings.
I got started and all was well at first while they were newly opened. I got them sketched out and blocked in the first afternoon of painting. By the end of the second afternoon when they were fully opened, their scent was killing me, making my throat and eyes itch and I started sneezing and coughing. I gave the bouquet to my neighbor.
The next day I finished the painting from a photo which isn’t nearly as much fun as painting from life. I also didn’t particularly enjoy working on Gessobord which is kind of dry and absorbent compared to the wonderful Yupo I’d been working on lately but I stopped using it because of some possible issues with mounting or framing Yupo.
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.
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.