Friday, November 15, 2019

Pink Yellow & Blue Flowers

Pink Yellow & Blue Flowers
8"x10"
Acrylic on canvas board

This painting is available, click to view the auction. I bought this vase when I was walking to the local farmers market. My neighborhood coordinated a garage sale for a Saturday morning.

Garage sales are great places to look for still life material. You can find older objects and the prices are usually fair. I stopped at two of them and they both had flower vases, which was something that I was looking for.


This vase is really small so you can’t fill it with large or top heavy flowers, but it works great for these flowers. The bottom of the vase is thick and it creates a lot of interesting optical effects and distortions that are fun to paint. 

Sometimes I buy flowers from the farmers market but these are from the local supermarket. I want to paint calla lilies but they’re hard to find. Maybe I'll order some from a florist. I painted these flowers from a photograph so they wouldn’t wilt before I finished the painting.

I believe that it’s the lighting gives this painting drama. Occasionally, I'll do a couple of value studies before I begin a painting. Below is what’s known as a notan sketch, or I guess you can call it a value study. Notan is the practice of simplifying an object into the basic shapes using nothing but solid black and white. A value study may also include shades of gray.

A black and white sketch of the flowers in a vase.
Usually, what makes a painting seem dramatic is a strong light and shadow pattern. A notan sketch will help you to determine if an image is worth painting because it makes these patterns obvious.

If the simplified notan sketch produces an image that’s immediately recognizable, then it’s probably a good candidate for a painting. The sketch will also help you to figure out how to simplify the shapes.

In the video at the beginning of the post, you can see that started this painting with a pencil sketch. Having the drawing figured out allows me to focus on mixing colors and creating interesting brush strokes. If I have to correct the drawing, it’s a lot easier to do so in the drawing stage rather than having to paint over an area that I already painted.

Aside from filming the YouTube video, I used my phone to record brief segments of video. Being an artist today means that you have to be your own agent, marketing department, camera man, and publisher!

The background happened rather spontaneously, if it works it’s because I avoided all temptation to fuss with it. Instead, I left the brush strokes as they were when I put them down.

I made a comment on a YouTube channel the other day about how difficult it is to create a a painting that is both accurate and expressive. I think that’s because you're trying to combine two opposing approaches in the same painting. You don't want the painting to look overworked or fussy, but at the same time you need to get the proportions and the colors right.  

Expressive brushwork is also misleading because it sort of implies that the paint was applied in fast and carefree manner. However, in order to get this effect to happen, you have to be deliberate with your color choices and with how you apply them. It’s hard to tell that from my video because it’s sped up.

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