My roses were in bloom, and I found myself eager to paint roses once more.
Cream and Lilac Roses: Plan Stage
For a painting this complex, I need to allow myself a week of full-time work. I divide each day into two seven-and-a-half-hour shifts, so I am effectively working two full-time shifts per day for the week.
Fresh flowers will wait for no one. Certainly you can slow down, and probably should towards the end of the work, but in the first block-in stage, you are painting a moving target, and the faster you can get that initial block-in complete the better. It takes a lot of stamina to paint a vase of flowers well.
Painting an oil painting is similar to writing a novel: you start off loose and work broadly, and not until the block-in has been done do you return to detail and complete the work.
The rough-in phase is like the first draft for the writer. Try to keep going forward and don’t stop to edit or fiddle with any part. Keep the ‘plot’ or story you are telling in mind.
After a lovely day in the studio garden with my husband Reg, I invited a friend around, picked some roses and planned the colour harmony for the floral arrangement. Choosing a quality stretched canvas and working with the world’s best quality oil paint, Maimeri Puro, I blocked in the first stage of a painting of these beautiful lilac and ivory roses with the coral pink snapdragon from my courtyard garden.
Cover the whole canvas.
The work is unfinished at this stage.
A work like this will require a huge amount of time to complete.
The third stage involves refining the painting, and the fourth stage involves developing the details.
I approach my novel writing the same way I paint—first I plan and then I roughly block in the plot. Only then do I begin to refine and provide detail. A novel needs harmony, balance, and passages of light and shade, just as a painting does. Both need the integrity of an original concept and no copying of others work. There is enough in nature to inspire us without the need to plagiarise.
It was a lovely, relaxing night. An art student friend visited to see the work progress. I wanted her to see and understand that even the professional artist does not produce a detailed work in the first draft.
With the canvas covered with the first impressionist block-in and the tonal pattern and colour harmony well defined, I added a little stand oil to the paint where I needed to apply a crisp, detailed edge. I also increased the intensity of some of my dark-value areas.
I removed some of the paint with a rag and added a few of the smaller light-shade and colour shapes. I blocked in some rose buds that had not been added in the initial block-in stage. I enjoyed painting this rose bouquet, and I love the colour harmony.
The shapes, tones and colours that make up the arrangement of roses were progressing well at this stage. It took a few more days of work to complete.
Here, I am still working on the third stage of the painting: refining.
The final stage involves detailing the painting with buds, stems and more leaves, giving the work a more three-dimensional look and greatly improving the composition.
This stage can take a long time. It is best to ‘look more than put’ rather than fiddle with the work if unsure what it needs. This is the time to make only those brush strokes that count and restrain yourself from over working the painting. Paintings are ruined at this stage though overworking.
While you can see the roses I am using to the side of the painting, you need to realise I began painting these roses thirty-six hours ago, and they are no longer the same flowers, having opened more today and twisted in the vase, as live flowers do. So I am painting as much from memory now as I am from the live flowers.
I feel confident I am painting ‘a good one.’ That’s not arrogance; it comes with experience and the knowing when something is 'working.' I would love to frame this one in a soft-cream antique frame with green-grey verdigris in the corners and crevices. That is my vanity at work, already planning the way to show off the work at its best.
As the painting has progressed, the roses have wilted and been replaced by fresh ones. This explains why the flower painter must work quickly. Painting a large fine-art floral painting requires physical stamina.
Below is the previous stage before I began to add the delphiniums.
Lilac, Cream and Apricot Roses (above)
Roses and Delphiniums, the final painting (below)
Both variations of the painting work, and as this will be popular for the print market, I can utilise the before-and-after versions of the painting.
The images of artwork are copyrighted © to Ryn Shell, artist.