Yesterdya’s Paul Foxton workshop session was cancelled but I thought I’d go mad and do a watercolor value study instead. Sheesh!!! So hard getting those close values in watercolor and still keep the form and light. But I think I did pretty darn well .
A blue diamond rose oil painting is on the easel today. I’m gearing up for another Paul Foxton workshop and we had a free livestream paintalong today. Really pleased with this one and I’m loathe to touch it any more even though I can see areas where it needs it.
Canvas panels are great for studies
The painting is on a cheap 8×10 canvas panel. I doubt these have great longevity as they’re made of cardboard but they’re good for studies. We mixed up light and dark values for both of the roses, the background, the vase and the leaves. This took a while. It was probably 90 minutes of just mixing but it’s worth it.
The problem with mixing is actually a problem with seeing
The problem of mixing can be split into two parts. The first part (and the hardest) is identifying exactly which color you need to mix. We are constantly fooled by our eyes when looking at subjects. If a subject is in strong light or strong shadow our brain compensates and makes it hard for use to know exactly what the color is. For instance, the white rose on the right definitely reads as white. Even in the shadow area at the top it still looks white. But if we isolate that color we see that it’s actaully a value 5. And 5 is exactly half way down the value scale. It’s so easy to overstate the values in these regions and make them much lighter than they appear. And then the painting doesn’t work.
Once we’ve identified the color correctly mixing it is relatively straightforward. If we know the color we know the hue (orange, red, blue etc), the value (dark to light on a 1-10 scale), and the chroma (how bright or gray the color is).
Putting the paint on the canvas
When we finally got to putting the paint on the canvas it all went pretty quickly. We had already mixed the main colors. We then blocked in the areas and blended between them to get smooth transitions where needed. The petals were trickier. We had to mix between the main values to get the more subtle value shifts. We also needed deft brushwork to get the petals to read well.
But on the whole this was a great success. I could clean my brushes happy after a good day’s painting.
Inspired by Marilyn on the Summer Roses group I decided to work up the color study a little. This gives me a little practice in readiness for the bigger version on Monday. Although softening the edges was tricky I think I’m fully prepared to dive into the real thing.
It’s session 5 already! And we’re now onto putting some detail into the roses. We worked on the two main roses and it is extremely tricky. I think I’m happy right now but I’ll take another look tomorrow. I just about kept the form without losing value in the shadows or gaining it in the lights. And the inside curled petals just about came together.
Here’s where I started – all smooshed edges
We first worked on the big left hand rose. Sharpening up some edges and leaving others loosely defined
Then the right hand rose which was trickier but just about kept together.
We planted three David Austin rose bushes this year. Our track record with plants is hit or miss to put it generously so I was pretty pleased that they all flowered albeit sparsely and with tiny blooms. However – these are our own roses grown by our own fair hands. I don’t think this is quite finished yet. I need to leave it on the easel and see what it needs in the next couple of days. I’m pretty happy at the moment though. The values are good, the edges have a nice variety to them and they have some life.
Here are some intermediates:
This is the block in stage with the major values. Pretty much 2 or 3 for each flower, 2 for the leaves and 2 for the background. All hard edges right now and it looks pretty nasty.
All the edges are now softened with a combination of a comber brush and a soft sable. At this point I can start to see which areas will be left soft and which will be sharpened up.
This is right at the start of the process of refining and sharpening up the edges. Only a few edges have gone in but you can see it start to come to life. This is the magic bit!
This is the current state. The edges have been redefined, some petal detail has gone in and some extra values. A good day’s work I think.