Monday, December 17, 2012

A Single Daisy

Flowers and I have been on a roll. I started with classes at the Las Vegas Painting Convention several years ago and was amazed that I could actually paint a white calla lily, several in one painting, in fact. It was all curvy in shades of white and lavender shadows against a black background. This was in oils.

Then last year I decided that I wanted to do the same thing with a Bird of Paradise I noticed walking my dog. My trusty iPhone got a pretty good likeness. Zeroing in on just one bloom and taking out the background, replacing it with solid black, I was able to bring out a vibrance and saturation of color using acrylic paints that surprised me. It didn't take all that long to do. Hence, this was one of the reasons I submitted it to teach in Vegas in 2013. I also noticed that unlike oils, I could float the paints like I did in my craft painting to get the richness yet roundness I needed. If you were a crafter, YOU could do this painting. The best part of course was that it was dry when you were done.

I have gone back and forth with oils and acrylics and frequently combined them. I loved being able to use one color in acrylics as a background then painting in oils on top of it never worrying that the colors would blend. I let a little of the background peek through and found this gives a richness that I at this stage of my painting career hadn't mastered using just oils.

DAISY, my latest acrylic painting, is from an actual scene outdoors but painted like a still life. The flower stands out in stark, almost photographic relief against a blurred, fuzzy, almost abstract background. I had selected that one flower out of a stand of many, almost like a camera uses a narrow depth of field to isolate one object when there are so many.

The colors - oranges, yellows, a wide variety of greens, purple (yes purple in the background shadows), raw umbers and vermillion create an almost realist and abstract painting together. The daisy literally appears to jump off the canvas.

While I am not sure when, if ever, I will get off the flower kick, I have learned a great deal in painting them. Flowers teach you a great deal whether you realize it or not. For one thing, there is the focus. Flowers demand that you place close attention to their shape. One misstep and you have another flower, or more likely a mess. You MUST pay attention to what you see in life or what you might see in a photo.

Then there is the feeling the flower inspires. What does it look like to your artists eye? What do you feel about the subject? Finally there is the timeless question, do we have to paint only what we see or are we, as artists, given license to paint what we think we see and feel?

I think that we as artists have every right to paint what we feel. Is this daisy the same one I saw and photographed? No. The shape is pretty much the same but the colors have been enhanced. Do you know what it is? Yes. The daisy shape remains but it stands in a swirl of color. While photos never can capture the depth of the actual range of colors in a painting, you can get a feel for this. You know its a daisy and can sense that is in a field of flowers and in this painting at least it appears to leap off the canvas, almost begging to be touched, to be picked.

If you haven't, give flowers a try. I have about eight flower paintings now and find that each one gets better with more richness and depth that when I started painting them. They have also enhanced my other paintings because they have made me pay closer attention to what is and is not important in a painting. Anything that teaches that, is a subject definitely worth exploring!

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