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Painting Process: Blue Hydrangea

This painting was created as a demonstration for a class. Each week I spend about 20 minutes at the beginning of the class for the demonstration. Because we met once a week, I used a silk flower. Our classroom is well-lit with overhead lights and a wall of windows. To ensure consistent light from one direction, I used a cardboard box. The clip-on light from Home Depot is attached to a camera tripod. A slit in the cardboard box keeps the scarf background in place.

A viewfinder was used to determine the composition. To draw the basic shapes I like using sienna pastel pencils rather than charcoal. To prevent the drawing from being lost, odorless mineral spirits can be blended with the pastel marks. The wash in layer can then be continued using burnt sienna and ultramarine blue oil paints thinned with mineral spirits.

The wash in was completed and dried by class time. The first layer of paint establishes the values and general color of the painting. At this stage i have my basic palette of colors out.They are titanium white, cad yellow light, yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, cad red light, alizarine crimson, ultramarine blue, viridian green, raw umber, burnt umber and ivory black. I have a medium on my palette and rarely use it. The medium is 75% OMS to 25% Linseed OIl. For later layers I will add more oil to insure I paint fat over lean. I put in dark, medium and light values on the painting. The darkest and lightest values are yet to be added. This layer is painted thinly. Some edges are blurred (usually with my fingers) where needed.

The next layer of paint defines the shapes of the flowers and petals. I am still reserving the lightest highlights. My palette remains the same. I view this stage as fitting together the puzzle pieces. Each flower shape must fit into the next one.

I assess the painting and decide what needs to be changed. I choose to keep the background shifted toward purple. The blue flowers need lean to green-blue. I add cerulean blue to my palette rather than using viridian with ultramarine. The mixture will be brighter and will keep its color when I lighten it with white later.

Petal mixtures in cerulean were added. Petal color variations in alizarin crimson/white and cerulean blue/raw sienna or yellow are painted in . Darks have been strengthened with mixtures of cerulean/ raw umber or alizarine/ Ivory black and ultramarine blue. At this stage my medium is 50% oil and OMS

At last the details. With a small soft round brush, I add the lightest highlights and spots of yellow paint at the center of flowers. The design is added to the vase with ivory black and ultramarine blue thinned to the consistency of water paint. The final step, using a paper towel ,dab the glazed design to soften it. Below is a video of the glazing process.


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