Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florals are Easy and other Fallacies...

Here it is, my first still life floral - ever.

It all started innocently enough. I bought myself a spring floral bouquet and a couple of hyacinths as a reward for enduring, yet another, dental appointment. With half of my face still frozen I could hardly wait to get these beauties home and into some water. Then when I had them all set up I thought "I just HAVE to paint them".

So the next day when the freezing had well worn off and the pain from the needle that did the freezing was really apparent I decided to start the still life to take my mind off of the pain. I thought I'd be done in a few hours.

I had to rearrange my living room/studio, who am I kidding, it's a studio with minimal living room. The photo above was after about 8 hours I think. You can see the floral still life ontop of my much covetted red Dukabhor table that I have moved with me 5 times since I got it. I love that table.

At a certain point I was beginning to stress a bit then I looked behind me and saw this. Yeah, my cat sure wasn't stressing AT ALL. She had complete confidence in my ability. My ability to feed her that is. She's right about that :)

This gives you an idea of the color pallette I was working with. I ended up using another tray for glazes.

All in all the painting took about 15 hours. It was sealed with two glazes of sealer then varnished. The image continues around the edges so one doesn't have to frame it if they don't want to.

I now have even more respect for floral artists. It ain't as easy as it looks after all but it was well worth the lesson.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Painting a night scene from a childhood memory...

When I was a little girl the picture window of our home faced Riding Mountain National Park. Yeah, I know, pretty sweet. I would watch the sun set and then the moon rise over that majestic little mountain. Really, it's kind of an overgrown hill, like a long dragon lying on it's belly, taking a several century slumber. I wanted to paint that memory but where to start and how to paint night?

First we start with a 4" x 6" canvas panel that has had 4 coats of gesso painted on it to make it the most brilliant white it can be.

This is one of the photo references I used to see the mountain (evident in the far background). Note the little wee one star rating Ford Tempo in the left side of the frame. Believe it or not that thing on four skinny wheels actually got me through a horrific winter storm while driving back from Winnipeg in March. So even though it kind of sucks, I have fond memories of that little car. That and that it was my Mom's and she took tender-loving care of it. But I digress...

I wanted to see how it the color would operate at night. I had a good idea but Photoshop makes it easy to fake. I selected a blue filter to put over the image. I just wanted to confirm my ideas and it's about right. Photoshop is a VERY handy tool.

So I start by selecting a portion of the mountain and lightly outline where the moon will go. This is an acrylic painting and I start with a quick little sketch in watercolor pencil crayon then go right to the acrylic washes. The blues I use are cerulean, pthalo, ultramarine and cobalt. The other colors are cad lemon yellow and titanium white.

Carefully I build up the layers of glaze to define the shapes and forms. You have to be careful as a glaze left too heavy in an area can virtually destroy what you are trying to achieve. It's a fun but little nervy dance.

I decide where the moon and stars will go and how prominent the mountain will be. I determine the main focal point is going to be the moon over the mountain and the peak where the sun late afterglow is most evident. It keeps the eye in the painting and creates a calming but interesting luminescent piece.

And once again, here is the final outcome. I am so happy with it. It is just like my memory, my happy memory of looking out and seeing the mountain at this magical time of day turning to night. That's what I love about painting, you can take the actual object (in this case Riding Mountain) which looked rather unimpressive in the above photos and make it a thing of magical, mystical, beauty which lies in your heart, and bring it out into the world in physical manifestation. Making the invisible emotion, visible, the mundane, magical!