As promised yesterday, I implemented my idea in today’s watercolor experiment of yet another attempt at painting the elusive yellow succulent flower.
But first, as I promised to myself, a daily shading study:
Today’s watercolor experiment:
I made a couple of attempts to paint a representation of the yellow flowers on one of my succulents, neither completely successful (Yellow Succulent Flowers, Again Into the Breech). My approach was to render the dark and light areas, as appropriate, on my watercolor paper. There were problems. Although I was fairly certain about which areas to shade in a desired tone, I believe that small errors in size and color value added up to distort the final result. The reason that I was unable to correct the errors was that I didn’t understand the visual story of the picture. It is important to note that I was copying from a photograph and not a still life. For if I was painting from life, I could have tilted my head, or otherwise adjusted my vantage point to rectify the visual confusion.
So today, I altered my methodology. Instead of painting the dark and light spots, I studied the photograph, tried to imagine the three-dimensional form of the petal formations and then drew the form with my paint brush. I did not use a pencil at all in this study. Here is the underpainting, where I blocked in the petals and some of areas in shadow, leaving room for the previously troublesome petal formations.
Here is the final stage of this composition:
The basic components of this study are the flower petals. Around the periphery, most of them are flat. There are some, that are gathered at the bottom creating a hollow in the broader aspect of the petal. In the composition above, an immature petal (just left of center) created back-to-back cone shapes. I had the most difficulty rendering this particular shape.
I used most of the same palette as in the past two paintings: gamboge, lemon yellow, permanent mauve. I added peacock blue to some of the regions that I painted mauve in order to complement an adjacent orange or yellow area.
I may have overworked this particular painting. Perhaps too many layers of glaze dulled the final work. But my approach was solid. That I was using another two-dimensional image as my source made it necessary to add an extra step in the painting process. I had to imagine the forms in three dimensions and then re-translate them back into two dimensions in a way that made visual sense.
Painting from real life eliminates this step. The artist already has a three-dimensional form confronting him or her. I don’t reject the premise that the light and dark areas of the subject must be replicated on the canvas, but the artist must not forget that the purpose of doing this is to recreate understandable forms (in the case of representational painting) for the viewer to interpret.