Hello everyone! I am back with another recent floral subject. Lily of the valley. This is a flower that blooms in a giant carpet in my backyard and is beautiful to behold. So short, it is elegant with its soft white bell-shaped blooms and striated leaves. For those of you who don’t know, they are also a flower associated with Mary. So, this is appropriate and meant to be for me, as October is the month of the Rosary. Just a little tidbit for any of you who are interested. Besides, it never hurts to pray every day. The world could always use a bit more peace, as do we.
Enough of that. I am becoming more meticulous with keeping track of my progress through a painting. Phones make it convenient to take a quick snap before leaving something to dry. Otherwise I would never get my chores and housework done. (Did I mention I am renovating a potential studio/study space all on my own? It is a time-consumer. :))
I like the idea of using a color-swatch to choose my paints before beginning. This time, it was relatively simple, and I used only 4 colors: Pyrrhol Red, Permanent Yellow Deep, Cobalt Blue, and Phthalocyanine Blue. It would have been only 3 colors, but halfway through I realized I had switched blues. So there. It happens. 🙂
First thing is deciding on the colors. Next is the sketch. I use photos from the internet as my subjects and change the composition accordingly. Then I step back and see how is the best way to approach each painting. In this case, I wanted a lot of washes in the back but wanted to avoid leaving too much white surrounding my lilies. So, I decided to paint the delicate lily focus first, mask it out with some Masking Fluid (I used some Winsor Newton brand I had close at hand) and let that dry.
After that, I began to work on the leaves. Because I didn’t just want a lot of greens, making it overly monochromatic, I thought to myself – “why not just use warm and cold colors to make it more interesting?” So that is what I did. I wanted soft transitions for the underpainting, so I pre-wet the leaf areas one at a time and dropped in the color. I lifted out several times and adjusted as the paper slowly dried. I did this for each individual area.
I wanted a lot of contrast as well, so I made some deep purples and dropped those in right away, without counting on a lot of layering, basically to see what happened. I wanted the flowers to stand out, so I made it darker surrounding the blossoms wherever I could. I also wanted them to glow a bit, so I lifted some of the paint from around them where I could.
I added more details to the leaves and then removed the masking fluid. What has originally been some nice subtle shadows on the flowers seemed like nothing at all, so I worked on the shadows again, keeping it warm on one side and cooler on the other, to give them some shape. Finally, I added some more detail to the stem. During this time, I also used some White Gouache to help with some highlights and to redefine some of the edges that were not masked as well as I thought they were. It is a bit of a crutch used like this, I know, but I did try to reserve some more whites this time.
Overall, it is closer to what I wanted to achieve than I thought, once I step back and think about it. Not too bad at all. As the painter, I always will judge it too harshly, perhaps, but that is what drives me to be better. I know I will try again sometime in the near future.
Just keep painting and experiment. No one will do it for you. We all have to start somewhere.