Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pansy Painting Pandemonium

Pansy Pandemonium, 10x10, acrylic on linen panel, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2012

Temperatures are mild again, I have a hyacinth growing in the studio and my thoughts have turned to spring!! There's nothing I enjoy more than filling my planters with pansies, violas, and Johnny Jump Ups. I buy them in flats the minute they become available. The painting above contains all those varieties.

Painting a floral, especially a pure floral, (no vase and surrounding still life objects, and not a garden scene with structure, large masses and perspective), but rather a painting where your point of view is pulled tightly in on just the flowers, is much like painting the sea, it's about painting abstractly.

Both the complexity of the surging sea and the complexity of the tangle of petals, stems and leaves requires the artist to edit, suggest, improvise and work from what she has stored in her memory about the subject. A good deal of thought must be given to rhythm, pattern, balance, and movement in the composition. Values and color are laid on top of the rhythmic pattern.

Here you can see that I had a photo and also a sketch that worked out and  identifed the major movements in the composition as well as the arrangement of shapes, and though you can't see it the photo, the sketch also indicates where the most complexity of shapes will be.  In this instance I deliberately decided to work on a square canvas, even though the photo is a rectangle thereby giving me good reason to edit and rearrange, lest I be tempted to copy the photo too closely.

Some color adjustments were made as I chose to emphasize the blue/orange complementary color scheme. As a result much of the yellow was sacrificed.

 It's All About Design

When you're working with this type of subject, flowers that are up close with little distance, you'll encounter many repeating shapes, made up of many small parts. There are several design strategies that can be used to help you organize your composition.

  • Overlap forms to create a sense of space, distance, of one thing being in front of another
  • Make sure repeated flower forms are presented in different sizes, small, medium, and large
  • Make sure that your flowers are not all facing the viewer, show some in three quarter view, some from above, some turned obliquely etc.
  • Decide which size flower form will dominate. Will there be mostly large forms or mostly small forms?
  • Show flowers in various stages of openness, some fully open, some in bud, some partially open. 
  • Study the characteristic of the foliage and the growth habit of the flower. 
  • Decide on a dominant movement for the composition. The piece above is based on a diagonal with the large yellow/orange pansy in the upper left as the counter point.

These close up florals work best in small formats which I think adds to their charm!

Here's another example of a close up pansy painting done in oil...

Morning Pansies, 6x8,  (sold)

Now go find some flowers and think DESIGN ( and spring) !

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