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Monday, March 29, 2010

"Jack's Roses" In Progress

My friend Jack has a lovely rose garden. A spectacular feat when you live in Florida. I fell in love with a bouquet that graced their family table at a church dinner. Jack's wife took some photos for me, and an idea was born. I admit, I've never painted roses before. I've painted flowers, but never roses. I'm going to transform them right before your eyes; from the first photos of these elegant beauties, right down to the finished painting.

I'm using my favorite technique: oil on acrylic. First I coat the canvas with gesso and acrylic paint. I wanted a grayish green color, but I never quite got there. I settled on the resultant bluish gray coat. That's how it is with art and artists. Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don't, and sometimes you get even better than you expected. Other times you settle for something else, and hope the final product will achieve the same ends. My photos do not show the colors accurately, so please forgive!

Next I sketch my design on canvas, choosing a combination of flower groupings from the photos. My drawing is not overly detailed. I am more concerned with the overall shapes at this point in time. After my sketch is complete, I use acrylic paint to define the shapes. This gives me a darker base color to work from. I want the outer petals of the roses to grow out of that dark center.


The next step is to rub a coat of linseed oil over the canvas. I use paper towel to make the coat even and not too heavy. There should be no drips or runs. You want your canvas to be smooth, yet wet enough for your first coat of oil to glide on smoothly.

Now the fun begins. Adding oil paint over the acrylic. I almost always start at the top and work my way down the canvas. This prevents me from smearing or getting my hand in the wet paint.

The photo shows the results of the first coat of oil over acrylic on the two pink roses. I discovered it was more difficult than I expected, and I'm disappointed with my first attempts.

With oil paints,I define shape in more detail. Rose petals curl and unfold, adding color and clarity. Thorns and leaves will be accentuated; their values defining light source and contrast. The oil paint seems to "pop" off the canvas, giving my paintings a vibrancy that oil alone doesn't always achieve.

This exercise proves that I need a lot more practice in order to paint roses well. My first efforts are somewhat disappointing, but maybe we've all learned something in the process. In my next blog, I'll show you further progress and the final painting: "Jack's Roses." (To be continued...) Your suggestions are welcome!