Come with me on a journey – a walk on the wild side. Explore with me the opening of a new door to my creative endeavors. I pushed the envelope a little this time, taking on something I’ve never done before. It started like this:
Paint My Photo – a web based consortium of artists and photographers. I was introduced to PMP by my friend Jean Klein from the Phoenix Artists Guild who is a participating artist member. (There are over 7,000 by the way, from all over the world!) If you’re ever lacking for inspiration or subject matter, check it out one of these days at
www.paintmyphoto.ning.com . It’s completely free, and you will be amazed at the quality of photos, all copyright free that the photographers post for anyone to use. Sounds too good to be true right? But I kid you not it’s awesome! Each month they have a “challenge” that is put out to every member. The July challenge was “Macro florals. To enter you must use one (or several) of the photos posted, and they suggest doing it larger than you normally work – to push the envelope as it were.
When I studied the many close up photos of beautiful flowers, I was inspired to try something different. What the heck – I’ve never been one to retreat from a challenge. I chose this reference photo by Maria Balcells.
I used a large gallery wrap canvas I’ve had sitting behind the door for a couple of years – 24 X 30 – big for me. I printed out the reference photo to 8X10 so I could get it large enough to measure proportions. Here is the sketch although I am carefully noting shapes and proportions, it is just a preliminary sketch and will probably be changed during the execution of the painting.
I’m excited about the prospect of painting this challenging piece, and although I am a little tired after establishing my initial drawing which took nearly two hours, I begin working the upper left hand corner, treading lightly at first but looking forward to the bold colors. This is what it looked like that first day after I finished the sketch on canvas
I woke up the next morning eager to attack this canvas! I spent a good half hour mixing color, (no neutral this time since I want clear brilliant colors!) I AM NOT PAINTING THE FLOWER BUT PAINTING SHAPES THAT I SEE and paying pretty close attention to the values as they change within the shapes. Color is of course a factor but I am less concerned with accuracy at this point and I’m just plunging in with wild abandon. IT’S FUN! I paint pretty much all day since I have the day off. The housework doesn’t get more than a look and a promise. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Here’s what it looked like after the second day.
Unfortunately I rarely get two days off in a row so I have to leave it for awhile. I am itching to get back at it but alas, duty calls. I do have a life! I finally get back at it the following day, and spend about 4 hours blocking in the general shapes and colors. My brush is flying, I’ve changed palettes three times, I’ve used more white paint than I have for a year! I’m not used to working this large and there is a lot of space to cover. I am still taking careful note of SHAPES and not painting the flower at all. Here’s how it looked after the 3rd day I clean my brushes and put my palette in the freezer reluctantly since I really want to keep painting but my body overrules me and I flop into my bed and fall instantly asleep, satisfied at a good hard day’s work.
I am determined to finish this project – only 4 days into it and I’m still excited – it’s nearly done. I love the limited palette – red, orange, yellow, blue and of course white. Two reds: Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red Light; Two yellows, Cadmium Yellow Medium and light; Cadmium Orange comes in handy when I need intense color in the dominantly red areas on the left and right. Dioxazine purple is used in some of the shadow of white areas. Prussian Blue – a color I RARELY use works well for the cool hues in this Peony. I did a little detail work and a bit of glazing here and there to intensify colors. Here’s the finished piece.
I enlisted the help of my experienced and computer savvy friend Jean Klein to help me post it into the challenge since I had never before entered a painting on this website. What followed was a stimulating dialogue from other artists in the organization, one after another, people who praised, applauded and encouraged. A panel of judges chose this painting as the winner of the monthly challenge!!! I was of course astounded (and pleased). It will be published on the cover of their next online newsletter (a quarterly publication) – a coveted position. Sadly, no money prize but a feather in my cap. To date I don’t have too many feathers!
(Author’s note: Since I am pretty new at this blog stuff, I am not familiar with some of the tools that wordpress offers. Therefore, my photos are somewhat scattered around the page with fragments of sentences attached. I really wanted to wrap the text around the photos but didn’t know how to do that…. Sorry about that – my next post will hopefully be better! I hope whomever reads this will learn something or be inspired. That’s my intent.)
I learned so much! Enjoyed it immensely and although I didn’t get a whole lot else done that week, I have to say that I produced one heck of a flower painting. It’s abstract while at the same time realistic. My advice….don’t be afraid to push the envelope! I believe that “Petal Poem” is the first of many macro florals that I will do. I’m afraid I’m hooked!