Saturday, April 26, 2008

Signs of Spring, step 3

Adding nandina


After looking at the painting for a while, I decided that the daffodil bouquet needed some filler. I clipped some sprigs of nandina from the front of the house and stuck them in the arrangement. (I find that nandina and grape ivy are wonderful still life fillers.) The neck of the blue vase was so narrow that I couldn't splay the daffodils any better than you see them here.

I'm still bothered by the daffodil stems that transect the blue vase, so I'll have to work at that. I think some strategically placed nandina will soften the lines.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Signs of Spring, step 2

After the cat debacle


The biggest problem in setting up the still life again was arranging the blue scarf like it was before. Impossible! So after playing with it for a while, I settled on this arrangement, which I actually like better than before.

The silk daffodils provide shadow patterns that I wouldn't otherwise have.

I substituted a small lotus cup for the original "vase" for two reasons: The original one was exactly the same width as the dark blue vase Secondly, the smaller one doesn't compete with the others. The "S" curve composition format works very nicely with the flow from the lotus cup up through the daffodil arrangement.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Signs of Spring, step 1

The setup with silk daffodils:


It is spring and my daffodils were ready to bloom. I like to paint an annual daffodil painting, often in a yellow and blue motif. I used silk daffodils to get a rough idea of how I wanted to plan it. I pulled some vases and pots from my still-life "closet," a scarf from a drawer, and, thinking in complements of blue and yellow, came up with the above arrangement.

The setup with real daffodils:


After I was fairly satisfied with the silk arrangement, I substituted the real daffodils, but not for the ones out of water. I had to be stingy with the flowers, since I didn't have many in the garden. I planned on painting the ones in the vase first, then I would take them out of water, and use them in the foreground.

Painting the daffodils:


I spent three sessions on these daffodils, which are now finished. And the daffodils are long gone. The photo above doesn't show them nearly as rich in color as the painting. I am aiming for a neutral blue-gray background to show off the colors. You can see by the differences from the setup photos to the painting photo, the reason an artist should never paint a still life from photos. The camera lightens the lights and darkens the darks so there is a tremendous and unrealistic contrast between the two.

Broken vases:

After the last session painting the daffodils, I returned to the studio the next morning and found the daffodils and the vases on the floor. The blue vase had it's neck broken off and the white one was broken in half. My darling cat Leo had apparently been challenged by the situation and gave it a "go." I have since repaired the vases and will resume work on this painting soon.

Sorry to say I lost last week due to a stomach virus.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Harpers Ferry, step 6

Finishing the painting, again


You always hear that when you finish a painting that you should put it away for several days and then look at it with fresh eyes. Well, I did, and I saw some big and little things to do.

First, the big thing. I saw that I had lost the distance of the left "mountain," so I glazed it with a blue/gray to push it back. Now it looks more like it did in step 4. Somehow I had lost that in the previous step. While I was at it, I also glazed the back right mountain.

Then I rearranged the rocks in the distance, added some sky holes to the trees on the left, and redesigned the bush by the sandy path. I camouflaged a tree trunk that was bugging me, added some more highlights to the trees, and accented a few of the rocks.

The painting is done, it is framed, and in two days it goes to American Painting Fine Art, DC for the Potomac River School exhibition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Harper's Ferry, step 5

Finishing the painting


I noticed that the right hand mountain looked like a crocodile lying in wait for a juicy tidbit. By rearranging the trees, I kept that disturbing image blurred.

I also changed some of the colors in the shadow areas of the mountains, which aren't really evident in these blog photos. But I do think you can see a difference. They look more defined, and the sun came out.

The major change was the rocky overlook. I eliminated the shadows, which had given them depth and changed them into simple large rocks in the water below me, which is how they really were. I added two Canadian Geese, who had very thoughtfully posed for me when I was photographing the scene. They add a nice touch, particularly their vertical lines as a counterpoint to the many horizontal lines in the painting.