Painting Observations

My latest still-life setup: notice the flowers I’ve suspiciously erased.

So much green!

I learned how to paint flowers this past summer and I am eager to incorporate florals into my setups. These fake flowers will have to hold my place for now as I am sure real ones would die in my studio/garage setup. The cold weather might stall things, but instead of one day to paint I might have two. (Florists refrigerate flowers to make them last longer.)

Perishable subjects, like flowers, are incredibly hard to paint. Normally I like to take my time with the drawing, but a flower’s petals will curl inward, expand, or die as the light changes. The key is to be able to sketch it in paint, flawlessly, in one go.

I am teaching a high school painting class for the first time this semester. I showed them studio basics like cleaning and setting up a limited palette. After giving them a talk about method discipline, I turned around and tried to rush my flower sketch and had to start over. Perhaps I will play back my own lecture for myself.

Starting over is so obnoxious, but what I have learned is that in the artistic life, the artist is always the student. Sargent would wipe out a portrait fourteen times before he was satisfied. Until I get to that point, I won’t be the kind of artist I want to be.

That is, a Master.