Friday, November 4, 2011

Background drama

Zinnia with Bud Vase, 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

We've had several hard frosts this week, killing all my flowers with the exception of these little ones that I'm pretty sure are zinnias.  Zinnias are normally sensitive to harsh weather so I'm not sure how they've managed to hang on so long, but they offer a nice bright splash of color to what is becoming a rather dull landscape.  This composition came to me when I first picked them, but I ignored it and instead attempted to paint three of them in a clear glass jar.  That one wasn't working - and ended up getting wiped -  so I went with my original idea and found that I should have followed my instincts to begin with.

The flower and vase seemed to be working quite well at first, but somehow it still was a bit boring.  I turned to other artists to see how they handled still life and realized that the background made a huge difference.  At first this one was almost a solid pale blue, which is what I used for the set up in the studio.   But looking at the works of David Cheifetz in particular I realized that a dramatic backdrop can push the subjects forward and make them far more interesting.  I've been playing a bit with light and shadows, but seeing the difference in the before and after on this one (wish I'd taken photos!) really hit home - I will definitely keep it in mind for future reference.

It's funny though, the hardest part was know when to stop.  I kept seeing little things that needed to be corrected - a bit of white here, a splash of yellow there.  Hopefully my taking a photo will encourage me to stop messing with it.  The saying comes to mind, "It takes two people to make a painting: the artists to paint it, and another to stop him before he ruins it."  I think I stopped in time...

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