Category Archives: creative process

Creative Process: Morning Ramble

Morning Ramble, 20 x 16 inches

When I began this painting, I first completed a scaled color-study of the composition.Because I was working from a photo reference, I wanted to explore a few ideas and experiment on how I was going to simplify the busy and information filled background.

Something you may know about me, is that I am SUPER fascinated with detail, lots of texture, and complex shapes. However, detail and texture must be incorporated thoughtfully into a painting or else it will overwhelm the composition.

Here is the 10 x 8 inches color study and other progress photos (all progress photos were taken with my iphone, so quality varies):

This was my progress completed in my first painting session.

Here I am a few more days into the painting.

More time dedicated into painting the garden background.

Moving forward with the composition.

Beginning to tackle the foreground and how Naomi connects with the Sweet William flowers in front of her.

After I got this far, I wasn’t completely satisfied with how Naomi stood out in the composition. So I began to mentally explore what changes I would need to do to make Naomi a stronger visual element in the piece.  Eventually I decided to alter the height of the tall plants that were to the left.

And here is the completed painting.

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Creative Process: Bittersweet, 32 x 40 inches

Bittersweet by Elizabeth Floyd, 32 x 40 inches, oil on linen


The idea behind this painting had been floating around in my mind for more than two years before I was finally ready to begin in November 2015. I knew the subject matter would require a large painting surface and I must admit I was a bit intimidated by the idea of painting a life-size painting in the level of detail I imagined.

I am glad I allowed the idea to percolate and develop, because I am so happy with how this painting turned out.

I wanted a painting that was as big as possible while also maintaining the intimate feel of the delicate vine. By my nature, I am drawn to intricate patterns and details, the more delicate and nuanced, the more my mind wants to engage. So I wanted this painting to be an exploration of layering the textures and patterns created by the setup. Included in this painting is a Turkman rug that has beautiful deep reds, blacks, and blues, where some of the reds almost shift into purple tones. I was drawn to include it as my background because it complements the yellows and oranges of the bittersweet. The split-oak basket was an object I have wanted to paint for along time, I had just never found a place for it in a composition. So overall this painting came together and I began painting it.

For the first two months that I worked on this painting, I had several fits and starts where I would have to scrape down everything I had worked on because it was just off. I do not have any photos of this era because I was so wrapped up with the painting process that I would forget to take photos. Around Christmas I took some time off from the studio. During this break, I thought about how I wanted to move forward and what I might have to change in order to accomplish my painting goals.

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This is where the painting was when the new year rolled around, and I was now energized to tackle this painting.

The big change I incorporated into my studio habit to help me overcome the painting obstacles I previously encountered was to move my easel away from my viewpoint spot. Each time I actually painted, I needed to step 3-4 steps forward to paint, and then I would step back and compare the painting to actuality. This is similar to the sight-size painting method, but not really. I have really fallen in love with this method and have been using it on other paintings I am working on now.

Once things began to come together it was just a matter of working on the details and moving forward. The painting then came together rapidly.

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Here is a detail of the finished painting.

20160202-002 Bittersweet 32x40 detail

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Creative Process: Ring, Sparrow, Phoenix, 24 x 36 inches

Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

Ring, Sparrow, Phoenix

Last summer this painting was inspired by many ideas I had about marriage that were floating around in my head.

I had just acquired a vintage double wedding ring quilt at an estate sale and fell in love with its faded pastel colors and pattern. When I decided to develop a composition with this quilt, I was motivated to find objects that would support thoughts of love and marriage.

Of the different objects included in the painting, three specific items that symbolize and support my ideas of what makes a marriage strong and long lasting were:

Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen
1. My wedding band
2. The image of a sparrow on the Pennsylvania redware pitcher. Often a sparrow has been a symbol of industriousness, commitment, and hard work.
3. The image of a phoenix on the imari bowl. A phoenix is associated with the cycle of life, living, burning itself out only to rise from the ashes with renewed youth and vigor.

Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

Other items were included as well, flowers from my early-summer garden, draped fabric, food and drink. I gathered these items, and began to assemble a complex composition with a lot of individual pieces, where a linear rhythm would predominate over my tendency to rely on color-masses to create unity.


Here are photos of my process:

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And here is a detail of the gaillardia flower bouquet
Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

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Creative Process: Late Summer Tomatoes, 36 x 30 inches

I am VERY wedded to my process of painting from life in natural light when I am working on a still-life painting. Sometimes this dedication to only painting from life can affect the development of a painting.

This painting, “Late Summer Tomatoes” started out with sunflowers as the leading star, however a family emergency required me to stop work on the painting after the initial first week of work. This situation took me away from home for two weeks and in that time my sunflowers had bloomed out in my garden, leaving me in search of something else to incorporate into the setup from what my garden was producing when I returned to the studio.

Luckily for me, my tomatoes were especially productive and I decided to paint them again.

Here are some photos showing my painting process.

20150924-020 WIP01This image is taken from my first day of blocking in the composition.  As you can see, originally a basket full of sunflowers was going to be sitting on the green step stool.

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At the beginning of the second day of blocking in I realized that I needed to shift the stool down some in the painting, so began to work over the previous day’s burnt umber block-in with lead white mixtures.

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Then I left for two weeks, and this was the chaos I returned to, with the sunflowers all bloomed out… My garden always gets overgrown and wild by the end of August.  I am painting so much that I do not have has much opportunity to keep the crazy growth in check, and I hate cutting back at this time because I want to maximize what I can paint from in September and October, and so many birds begin eating from the seed heads of the flowers I just feel guilty about cutting back the chaos until the last moment.  Sigh. How I wish there were more hours in the day during the summer…

And thank goodness my husband is patient with me and that we do not have a HOA, they would be bothering me like crazy around this time of year ;)

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When I got back home and into the studio, things were so crazy I did not photograph any of the earlier days.  But, you can see that I made a lot of progress on the quilt and stool along with the first block-in of the tomatoes.  To make the change easier after what I had painted in before the two week break, I laid down a middle gray value to simplify everything, it was easier to move forward without any of the previous composition still lingering.

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Further along with a big push focusing on the tomatoes.  The tomatoes began to ripen quickly in my studio, so I had to give them my whole attention for several days in a row.

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Getting closer to the finish line….
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The completed painting! Late Summer Tomatoes, 36 x 30 inches, oil on linen.

20150924-020 Late-Summer-Tomatoes detail
A closeup of the tomatoes and stems.

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WIP: Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates, 24 x 30 inches

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates

This is a painting where the idea of its basic composition was established in late 2014. I had worked on a vertical configuration of this compositional idea in November 2014, but in December 2014 I came down with pneumonia and let the original painting get put aside. Also the orchid that had been a part of the original composition had lost all its flowers.
Then as the New Year (2015) came into being, all of my various amaryllis bulbs began to bloom. And with the blooming of my “apple blossom” amaryllis, I decided to revisit the composition. In assessing the original painting, I decided to change to orientation from vertical to horizontal.

After the initial block-in of the painting, I decided to focus on painting the amaryllis bloom. The other areas of the painting would last, while the flowers needed my immediate attention. As I have shared before, I prefer painting from life, even if this puts me under a bit more pressure in the race of completing the floral sections before they wilt and die. So on the first full day I had in the studio I dove in.

In fact, I worked on the amaryllis bloom for the time that Naomi was in preschool, typically I get 2-3 hours in the studio during this time and I had to stop mid-day to pick her up and deliver her to the babysitter so I could have the rest of the afternoon to paint. When I returned, I was able to look at my progress and setup with clear eyes. In analyzing what I had accomplished that morning and how it affected the composition, it came to me, that the painting would display the amaryllis bloom best if I turned the flower 180-degrees. So I scraped down what I had laid-in that morning and began again.

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{the amaryllis bloom in its first position}

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{the amaryllis bloom in its second and final position, with my initial colors laid down}

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{the amaryllis bloom with some of its surrounding background}

One of the truths of being an artist I hold is it never hurts to scrape down and begin again. Invariably the next go-round will be better and come more easily than the previous try, and I will feel better about the final outcome of the painting.

After revising the orientation of the flowers, I worked on areas of the painting choosing to jump around depending on the amount of uninterrupted studio time I had to dedicate.

Here are some detail images of the final painting:

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Framed Painting
{24″ x 30″ – oil on linen}

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