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.

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-01 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