After being released temporarily from birds I thought I’d tackle flowers for a bit. The Post Road Art submission of roses and lilies went ok but there was definitely room for loosening up a bit and not being so literal. The daisies above came out pretty well. It’s tricky painting white flowers against a white background – you have to define the petals with very subtle shades of grey. The dark foliage is almost as important and the dark spots in between the flowers make the flowers appear almost by magic. Not perfect but pretty happy with this.
Edit: This is my first submission to
Leslie Saeta’s 30 paintings in 30 days challenge
. Always great fun this and. as well as sharpening up the painting skills, I get to see old and new friends’ work.
This one was finished yesterday. The composition is stronger but the execution lacks finesse. This is trial and error time so nothing to be ashamed of.
As much as I like painting birds it’s been a bit of a relief to move onto something else for a while. I started out on this before I remembered how hard flowers are. Have a look
for my first attempts. Pretty gnarly huh?
as though they should be relatively easy compared to some things. They’re pretty forgiving if you get the drawing a bit wrong, they have well defined bright colors. and they sit still for hours on end without complaint. All of these things are true but they are of limited use when painting them. The things that make painting hard in general are crucial to get right when it comes to flowers. When do you use soft edges as opposed to hard edges? When do you emphasize a value change of light to dark and when do you blend things together? And the colors – boy you don’t realize how much a subtle change in color can affect the curve of a petal. Leaves are more forgiving – you can be pretty brutal with these. The flowers themselves – one slightly clumsy brush stroke and it’s all over.
Having said all that I’m pretty happy with this (I usually am for what it’s worth). I’ll pop him in a frame and see how he stands up after a few days.
Second go at the evening grosbeak. Teetering on the edge of over fiddling but managed to put the brush down. Much happier with this one.
So the main problem with the last saw-whet owl was it was too cartoonish. This boiled down to the eyes being too big and the more I looked at it the more jarring it was. So I took a little more care with the proportions and lost the terrible foliage and things came out much better. Pretty happy.
Another go at the least tern to see if the owls have taught me anything about painting white feathers. Much happier with this version.
Woo! Now this was pretty much a pleasure from start to finish and I think he’s rather handsome. Not to say there weren’t bumps in the road though. The drawing was unusually tricky and the branch gave me a bit of trouble but it was all worth it.
There’s a lot of good stuff here but I think he needs a little more work.
Edit: Yup – too cartoonish due to the large eyes. These owls really do stand like that though.
So after some studying and planning I’m finally making some headway with the owls. Somewhat counterintuitively I’m having to be much more careful with the marks and not let the paint do too much of the work. I don’t think I’m quite there yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Ok so it’s become obvious I’m going to have rethink technique for snowy owls. I’ve ditched the dark background and tried to model the shapes with subtle blues for the shadows. Ends of the wing feathers are now defined by paint rather than negative space with the background. Details are dark and sparse.
I think there’s progress here and I’m learning as I go. The shadows are *very* subtle and edges are crucial whether they’re crisp or soft. Also pencil lines need to be very light or non-existent. Hard edges spoil the effect.
A few more experimental goes and I hope we’ll be good for the demo.
and I’m giving a painting demo of one in a week and a half. Yikes!