Here’s how the painting with the Limoges vase looks today after I spent yesterday working on the green cloth. It still has a ways to go but it’s getting closer and closer to my mental target.
I painted this picture over two other motifs. The first surprisingly enough was a painting of horses that I decided I didn’t like. Over the horses I painted the first flower motif, one that was very different from the picture as it exists this morning. In between was a version that included the Limoges vase but had different flowers. Here’s the trip back under the layers of paint.
Here’s how the painting looked in 2016 when I quit working on it.
And here’s the wild and wacky version of the flowers in 2011:
I wrote a blog about the wacky version here and here:
And here’s the picture of the horses, that dates back to 2008, that lies underneath everything:
So, is that weird or what.
I just hope the horses stay forever behind the other paint because I’m really loving the painting now.
Some years ago I began the painting in which this detail appears. Now I’m reworking it. But this detail is my favorite element, and I’m not touching it. Some of the bare canvas appears between lines. There’s clear acrylic so it’s not actually bare canvas, but it’s got the color and appearance of the untouched canvas.
Black can be a particularly challenging color to use. It is very bold and rich. It’s so absolute in value that it’s hard to create an atmospheric effect using it. The black in this painting is mostly composed of dark browns made from burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. It breathes a little. But I want the mystery of the very darkest background. In this painting and in some others, I have explored the sensation of an atmospheric deep shadow.
All the other elements serve some role in striving after that effect. Its size also participates in the experiment. It’s a largish picture, measuring 44 x 34 inches. I want to create a life-sized feeling of the space.
I began this painting in the late autumn and as I switch from landscape to flowers I’m pulling things out of the bin for one more bit of tweaking. In many respects this painting is where I want it to be, but since flowers still hang suspended in the air, I suppose I should give it another level of completion.
But, you know, old Pa Cezanne did this sort of thing all the time and those of us who admire the old man have a tendency to follow his habits — perhaps even when we shouldn’t!
This acrylic painting measures 36 x 24 inches.
When the colors are beautiful simply as colors, when it’s a silky blue and a pale green the color of early spring, I find that I like looking at the colors for themselves alone. They are their own raison d’être. Big expanses of pure color gives the artist delight, something that you hope to share with the spectator. The lines and forms of the objects build upon that foundation. I wanted the vase of flowers to rise upwards like a bold tree, a symbol of life.
I make lots of studies for pictures. This one rehearses the motif for a large painting. This crayon drawing (made with Caran d’Ache Neocolors) measures 24 x 36 inches. (The related painting measures 30 x 48 inches.)
Moving the pen very fast, getting started in the morning. I look to my old familiar vase of flowers, the ones I always do again and again, and I draw without thinking too much. Let the pen follow the gaze. Look and react.
I will make many such little drawings while I work on my painting of flowers. I posted an earlier one already. Such drawings are made after the manner of a person muttering to herself; they are my haphazard thoughts made in idle moments. When I take a break and relax in my chair — or while I talk on the phone — I begin remembering my painting. These sketches are my memories.
These pen gestures each reveal subtle differences in feeling about what the picture is “supposed” to be — what I think it is — in the effervescent moment.
I have blocked-in the flowers of my 36 x 48 inch canvas in a rudimentary way. It has a “Matisse à Nice” kind of feeling in this early stage of painting. Everything is thinly painted. Everything is just “there” enough to suggest the composition as a whole, and yet I have lots of room in which to wiggle.
This is a wonderful stage for a painting — where there is a chance for firmness in the initial drawing and yet still so much opportunity to dream.
The flowers that I began earlier this autumn are coming along slowly. I took a siesta for a bit, but I get back to them from time to time. The great thing about drawing a vase of fake flowers is that they are quite patient. The only change that comes upon them is dust. And it is far too minute to be decernible in my depiction!
I am coming to terms with the floral pattern on the cloth behind the flowers. And it’s daunting the amount of visual “stuff” that lies before your eyes that you can contemplate and attempt to portray.
I think the picture has come a long way, yet there’s potentially very much that could be done still. An earlier view of the picture can be found here.