That “What Have I Done?” Moment in a Painting

You know when you thought you knew what a painting needed but now you’ve done it things seem worse not better? Doubt kicks in and you feel you have probably irreparably ruined it and what on earth had you been thinking…? Well, this is what me in that moment:

Artist Marion Boddy-Evans in her studio
That “did I just ruin it totally?” moment.

Step by Step: Yellow Roses Painting in ProgressThis is how I got there with my yellow roses painting:
Photo 1: I’d eliminated the white of the canvas with a mixed purple, let it dry overnight, then worked over this with lemon yellow.

Photo 2: The purple + yellow created beautiful greens. I found myself wishing I’d made a note of what I’d used to mix the purple (there are a few possibilities within arm’s reach of my palette).

Photo 3: Adding lighter yellows.

Photo 4: Adding a warmer yellow (cadmium) and some smaller highlights. Propped it on a shelf to dry overnight and staring at it realized I’d created inadvertent rows in the roses, then stared at it some more to decide which to enlarge. Reworking the pattern in the roses the next day, I ended up without enough tonal contrast (no photo).

Photo 5: Needed to dramatically increase the tonal contrast, so added a strong dark (quinacridone magenta + phthalo turquoise mix). Sprayed it with water to soften the brushmark edges and to let the colour run a bit. Worried it was over-the-top.

Photo 6: Added warm cadmium yellow. Doubt came to sit on my shoulder and whispered “you’ve ruined it” in my ear. I listened a bit, then told myself what I needed was to keep going, to add the tonal and colour variations that would subdue the dark.

Photo 7: I added several variations of cool yellow, leaning increasingly towards light green-blue by mixing some phthalo turquoise with the yellows. (Very pale cool blue sometimes reads lighter than even white, to my eyes.)

Photo 8: The painting now had lots of fragmented mark making, so I reached for a larger brush (often the solution!) and worked over with larger areas of cadmium yellow. It still needs some highlights? (which will be done both with light yellow and by darkening some areas with a glaze), but I’m pleased with where the painting is (scroll down to see a detail photo).

Artist Marion Boddy-Evans in her studio
That “I think I did manage to pull it off afterall” moment.

Detail from yellow roses painting

3 Replies to “That “What Have I Done?” Moment in a Painting”

  1. Isn’t that funny when you think all is lost oh heck go for it. Lol it’s like something you always wanted to try but was afraid and then when you let loose it turns out wonderful. You always do a great job. .

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