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A Painting In Progress...

January 23, 2017

I wanted to show you a little bit about my painting process.  How my paintings take shape and the things I think about as I'm criticizing my progress. This is by no means the only way to paint.  In fact, I've never been taught how to paint, so I don't have any formal training under my belt.  This is probably not the way someone learns to paint from a master painter in a university.  I have taken two workshops with the professional artists Dreama Tolle Perry and Gregg LaRock.  So I guess I have had some instruction, but it didn't change my process much.  This is simply my humble way.  

 

So let's dive right in.  First of all I start with a reference photo.  I would love to be able to paint on location (en plein air) but with three kiddos at home all the time that is pretty much impossible right now.  I do look forward to exploring that more when I have the time though.  All of my floral paintings have been painted with a reference photo usually by a floral designer.  And all of my landscape paintings are from my own reference photos.  I always obtain the permission of the floral designers before painting their flowers and this painting came from the gorgeous floral designs of Heather Page.  Here is a photo of my screenshot I took on my phone of her photo:

 

 

Then I crop it to a pleasing composition.  Sometimes I crop it and sometimes I move elements around (in my head) to make a more pleasing composition.  This one looked perfect cropped to me.  Two of the most important things I've learned in painting is blur your eyes and constantly step back.  Blur and step back.  Blur and step back.  Over and over again.  You blur your eyes to see the basic elements.  The darkest darks, the lightest lights, and it removes the details that can bog you down.  The details aren't important at all.  Then using the Colorstory app, I blur it over and over again until I feel like it's sufficient.  I've got to save myself as much time as possible because I don't have hours and hours every day to paint.  If I don't have to blur my eyes on my own the whole time that saves me time and energy.  Let alone my eyes don't get so tired.  

 

Using Rembrandt Transparent Red Oxide, I sketch in the basic composition on a 12x12" canvas. 

 

 

I usually work on the lightest areas first.  The dark blue and green colors will contaminate the lighter colors so I try to be very careful about the order of my painting process.  It's better to blend dark into light, vs light into dark.  Here, I decided to paint the largest rose first.  I start with the bright pink areas first and then work in the white and grey.  I mostly just block in the colors and worry about the blending later.

 

 

I then blocked in the other large rose and painted the background a light wash of the transparent red oxide.  

 

 

In a very loose and brushy manner I put a layer of cobalt blue mixed with white on top of the background layer.  

 

 

I didn't like how overwhelmingly light the painting was looking so I decided to work in some dark greens, blending in a little green into the background to create a sense of depth and atmosphere.

 

 

Then I worked in the three small roses being very careful not to contaminate them with the dark greens.  This is where I find it extremely difficult not to get caught up in the details.  I didn't want the three small roses to be the focal point so I tried to keep them very simple and kept the edges softer.  They could have been even simpler and softer I think.    

 

 

I then moved to the lighter greens in the leaves and in the upper right corner flowers.  At this point I actually was really disappointed in my painting.  Usually at this stage I can start seeing it all come together, but I felt like it was falling apart more than coming together.  I also didn't like the grey shadows in the roses or how blue the background was. 

 

 

I worked in the rest of the painting trying to be super loose and brushy.  I added some pink spots to suggest pink flowers deep inside the bouquet, changed the grey shadows to light purple, darkened some shadows, added some pink highlights in the large rose, muted the background with some greyish purple, and signed it in the lower left corner.  Yes!!  Ok!  It's all going to be ok.  Done!

 

 

Here's my setup, complete with lit candle and hot tea  :)

 

 

I hope you enjoyed my post on my painting process!  If you have any questions please feel free to ask me.  :)

 

-Rachel

 

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