I’m at that anxiety-inducing “don’t mess it up now” stage of a large flower-painting, where things are going well and it still needs a few more rounds to refine things but not be overworked or something “wrong” done. The desire to “get it right” is exacerbated by it being a large painting (120x60cm) and a commission. It’s tempting to pick up a tiny brush and get pernickity, but I do know from past experience this isn’t the solution that works for me. The route I need to take is to do it in stages, leaving it to dry thoroughly so that if the latest layer/round goes wrong I can simply wipe it off. These work-in-progress photos were taken after I downed brushes last night. I won’t paint on it today, but will leave it in pondering mode while I do other things. Partly to enjoy what I’ve done so far, partly to consolidate my thoughts on what I will do next, and partly as an incentive to get the admin done.
Vincent van Gogh’s various paintings of cut sunflowers in a vase (e.g. Sunflowers 1888) are probably his best-known flower paintings, but he also painted growing flowers, such as these irises. I enjoy not only his use of colour and mark making, but the way he makes flowers fill the whole composition and flattens the depth of field (an influence from Japanese art on him). A floral colour field, to apply a concept from a few decades later, and another influence on my painting, Rothko.
Given Monday’s Motivator to Keep Striving, I thought I’d share work-in-progress photos of one of the paintings I’ve been working on this week, one that’s been testing my resilience. Wildflowers are something that have bounced around my mind’s eye for some time, but a subject I’ve not translated into paint much. “Listening to Trees” was the first time I painted foxgloves to my satisfaction. My idea with this painting was for it to echo myforest paintings, but be only flowers. It’s a large canvas, 1×1 metre (about 39×39 inches).
The first photo shows where the painting was when I downed brushes yesterday. To my mind, very much still a work-in-progress that lacked oomph. It needed more tonal contrast, a stronger sense of sunlight, pinker foxgloves. The last thing I had done was to add a stronger dark tone using a mixture of Prussian blue, burnt umber, and perylene green. It was a bit streaky but once dry my plan was to do something similar with some “sunlight” and “blue sky”, then reassess.
How long would this take? Would it work? Doing it is the only way to know. I might make it worse, but ultimately that’s irrelevant as it’s not right now anyway.
Awake at four this morning thinking about this painting, I headed back into my studio to give it another go. I dug out some fluid medium, cadmium yellow, phthalo blue, and titanium white, then played around with very fluid paint and gravity. This photo shows where the painting is now. I like it more — it’s less static — but will reassess once it’s daylight. Studio cat seemed to approve though.
Update: I ultimately decided I did like what I’d done and made only minor tweaks.