My Garden: Mid-April

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Since the middle of March I have been spending more time outside prepping the garden for spring and summer flowers. Working in the crisp mornings or the temperate afternoons has been a joy.

Here are some images of my focus lately.

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Naomi’s play house and sandbox is in the middle of my “formal” flower garden.  In early March the playhouse got a new color scheme from its original cedar red.  Tulips and forget-me-nots are blooming in abundance now while all the other plants are starting to leaf.

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Last spring I got a celandine wood poppy and I am so pleased to see it back and so happy among the forget-me-nots and bleeding hearts.

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The tulips and daffodils in the foreground are located in my “dry” bulb beds.  I am experimenting with having some areas of my yard being low maintenance, the ground covered in wood-chip mulch and allowing various bulbs to naturalize.

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And this is a small “test” section of my back flower boarder that is typically full of annuals.  Last fall I decided to test a section of it by planting some fritillaria meleangris and scillia siberica.  To my surprise the fritillaria, which are particularly known for being fussy and temperamental have prospered while the scillia were a bit lackluster.  So next fall I think I will expand to another area…

Have a wonderful day and soon I hope to have some spring themed paintings to share.

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Tete-e-Tete Daffodils, 6 x 6 inches

Tete-e-Tete Daffodils

Tete-e-Tete Daffodils

Tete-e-Tete daffodils are one of my favorite of the narcissus family to paint. They are tiny in size and still have so much personality, and are also some of the earliest to poke out of the ground to begin blooming.

This painting was my first demonstration during the flower painting workshop I taught a few weeks ago. I started with these flowers because I wanted to focus on how to simplify and abstract the shapes of the flowers when beginning a painting. By simplifying the organic shapes of flowers into basic geometric forms, one can easily breakdown the complexity that is often found in bouquets and create unity within a painting. And daffodils are great painting subjects because their petals and trumpets can both be simplified into hexagonal patterns.

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Framed Painting: $500
Available for Sale, Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA
{6″ x 6″ – oil on linen}

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{As an aside, my daughter Naomi and I were out driving this afternoon and she commented on the different sized daffodils blooming in a median as being part of a family. Tete-e-tete daffodils were the “baby” daffodils and the larger ones are the momma and the papa daffodils. My outlook towards these miniature daffodils has altered for life}

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Paperwhites and Bottles, 16 x 12 inches

Paperwhites with Bottles

Paperwhites and Bottles

This winter I was given some paperwhite bulbs from my sister. It was an appreciated gift that kept on giving through the gray months of January and February.

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Framed Painting: $1250
Available for Sale, Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA
{16″ x 12″ – oil on linen}

Leave a comment Filed under Artwork, available paintings, Principle Gallery, still life

Painting Flowers from Life, a 2-day Workshop

This past weekend, I taught a semi-private workshop that focused on the joys and challenges of painting flowers from life. I was motivated to come up with this specific workshop because when I first began to use flowers in my still-life setups I often had my flowers fade and wilt before I had finished the painting.  And after years of trying out different techniques, I am now able to keep my flowers fresh for the duration of completing most paintings.

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{at the beginning of a demonstration}

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{further along in the demonstration}

Since I first began painting with oils it has always been my goal to paint from life when possible. I just love the immediacy, the sense of excitement and the connection that is built from sharing the same space with my painting subjects. Over the years I have been experimenting and improving upon the ways to extend the life of cut flowers so I would have more time to paint them.

I have read many gardening and flower arranging books, taken classes on flower arranging and even occasionally attended horticultural focused lectures and seminars, all in the goal to learn more and find ways to  include the plants and flowers I love into my artwork.

Over the years, I have picked up enough knowledge and tips that I can typically keep an arrangement looking good long enough to paint from the arrangement for a full five days, sometimes even more. And as I have yet to see any of this information available for artists who are also interested in painting flowers from life, I have put together a workshop that focuses on doing just this, painting seasonal flowers from life.

It was a pleasure to have three students participate in my inaugural workshop this past weekend.  And it was such a fun time that I am now committed to offer two more workshops this year that cover this topic.

If you want to explore the joy of painting flowers from life, these two-day workshops are designed for you.

We will cover these basic topics:
1. Cutting, conditioning and arranging flowers and how to keep them fresh for the most days possible.
2. Tips on the seasonal flowers we will use during the workshop
3. How to plan your painting process
4. How to abstract complex flower shapes and block in a composition of flowers
5. And tips for completing a painting while working around the changes that are likely to occur in your flower arrangement over time.

Each workshop will focus on the seasonal flowers that are in bloom (whether available for purchase in the grocery store or harvested from my garden), and each workshop will take place in the intimate space of my home studio and harvest our flower arrangements from what is growing in my flower beds*.

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Two workshops are offered in 2015

Painting Mid-Summer Flowers from Life
July 18-19, 2015, 10am to 4pm
Buy Now via Paypal $275

Painting Early Autumn Flowers from Life
September 19-20, 2015, 10am to 4pm
Buy Now via Paypal $275

Class size is limited to six participants, and some previous oil painting experience is helpful, but not necessary.

*my home studio is often visited by my dear Abyssinian kitty, Slim.

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To find out more, visit the PAINTING FLOWERS from LIFE webpage.

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Created with Love, 36 x 24 inches

Created with Love

Created with Love

Created with Love, my first painting of 2015 is officially finished.

To me, a painting becomes complete when I take down its still-life setup. No longer can I take the painting back into the studio to putter and fine-tune areas, in truth I can always return to a painting and add to it and change it some, but I like working from life and if my setup comes down I hesitate going back into a painting because I do not want to lose the connection I had with its setup. I get concerned about diluting my visceral connection with the inspiration of the painting in some way.

At the end of January when I finished phase two of this painting, I brought the painting into my living room to contemplate in a different environment than my studio. And in doing so, I realized I needed to make the background behind the red amaryllis more defuse and softer. When the paint was dry to the touch, I began exploring ways to soften the background some, and to make the flower stronger.

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The left image was before I began to experiment with softening the background some, and the right image was taken after my first experiment.  I liked it so much that I quickly began applying various glazes over the background, some where light in value and others were dark, I did not use the same tint mixture but shifted the tints to warm and cool depending on what seemed the best solution.  This phase went quickly.

Here are a few details of the finished painting.

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Okay, the biggest thing I learned about this painting is that I love diving into the details…

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Framed Painting
{36″ x 24″ – oil on linen}
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RELATED POSTS:
Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 1
Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 2

Leave a comment (3) Filed under Artwork, creative process, still life, Technique, work in progress