It's common to reach the end of a painting and need to let it sit for a few days, to a week, before I can ascertain if it's completed done. Often times I find myself making small adjustments to these nearly finished paintings. Reaching that point where you feel a painting to be complete, can be tricky. A good number of years ago it was clearer to me; I painted faster and never looked back. However in recent times I have gained great pleasure in reevaluating a painting that I viewed as complete and giving it a little adjustment. Sometimes these paintings I have stored for a year or two, before revisiting.
Sometimes this process reminds me of giving a room a new breath of energy by moving the furniture around. Some have ask if these adjustments are necessary, and that's tricky and ultimately a personal viewpoint. I would not argue that either painting (old or new) was finished, better or worse. But for me it reaffirms my affection for the painting; the process of applying a new or current idea, to an older painting, is exciting. In short, it breathes new life into the work, even if I'm the only who sees it!
I reworked both these paintings last week. They came from last years paintings, and both changed, by becoming a little more subtle...
Peruvian Lilies & Delphinium over Purple & Violet
24X36 Acrylic on panel
This painting worked, but felt a little cool. I wanted to keep everything unified and close in colors, so I adjusted the tablecloth to a yellowish white. Internationally I left parts of the original color shine through to give the effect of a loosely painted tablecloth design. I then lightly glazed the background floor to separate it from the tablecloth. The end result I think has elevated this work with a lot of nuance and subtlety in color, over the original drama of the cyan tone.
Lemons, Poms & Cyclamen over tribal drape
22X22 Acrylic on wood
The power of the background design felt too impactful, when the focus needed to be on the flowers and table. I toned the drape design into light yellow/greens, which unified the color design of the overall painting, and brought the focus to where it belonged. For the observant amongst you, you may also notice I altered the cut Pomegranate a little, and adjusted the line of the table, (where it meets the purple vase/cup).
Here's a fun little painting with a little inspiration from the
paintings of Mary Fedden. Don't think she's terribly well known in
America, but she's important to British still life painting. I enjoy her work and it was fun to tweak my usual style to incorporate a little of her work and the Naive like flattening of forms.
Here's two recent paintings featuring Stargazer lilies. As flowers they have such dramatic color and shapes, they're great fun to paint.
I begun these paintings together, but after the early 'under painting' stage I finished the one fully, before tackling the other. Looking back now I can't recall, which was ahead of which. The bouquet was the same for both, though you may notice I made a few aesthetic alterations to each to differentiate the paintings, and build different compositions within them. Within "Oranges, reds' the stems of the flowers twists and curl across the width of the composition, whereas in 'Watermelon & Stargazer' the flowers primarily stretch up, lengthening (or 'aiding') the tall design of the overall painting.
I enjoyed working on them as a pair, the same size and a similar subject; however with a few conscious color and composition changes, each seems distinctly different in tone & treatment.
In late fall last year I took a commission through my gallery in Santa Fe, to paint a still life for a collectors dinning room. They loved my work but had some ideas on subject matter and we agreed on the size of 60X72. When working to this size I move from the studio to my garage. In truth the canvas can fit in my studio, but there's not a lot of room. Though the garage may not be luxurious, there's lots of space to move around.
Here's an early sketch, I produced a series of these concept sketches. Gradually elements from various drawings are pulled together to produce the final design. This isn't the final, since I felt it more interesting to show some other choices during the process to provide a contrast to the final painting.
After the sketch is approved, I provide a number of different color designs to choose from. You can see how different the final color choices are when compared with the final painting to this plan.
Some elements within the painting are discussed in detail, such as what tablecloth design to use.
The final canvas is stretched primed and ready to go.
Notice my embarrassing, but surprisingly functional makeshift easel. The studio easel would cope with this size, but it's heavy. Rather than carry it to the garage I used a cool chest with a length of wood on top. The canvas is placed on this and held above by two metal wire coat hangers bent and twisted over the top of the painting.
The cloisonnist lines are painted onto the canvas, sometimes I'll even project my loose sketches over the canvas to help guide me, keeping strongly to the initial sketches. I will also refer closely to photographic reference materials of elements on the table to make sure I represent them accurately.
Using the color plan as a base design I paint in strong under-painting color.
A painting of this size takes some time to complete, it represents many weeks of hard work.
Below in the final painting. The colors within this work are hard to show within a photograph. Taking
a picture of this scale of work provides unique challenges, the color
represented in the small detail image, represents the work far better
than say the shot with me beside the painting.