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Painting Techniques: One


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..a vase of David Austin's "Glamis Castle" roses. Not a bad variety to paint,although you have to work fairly quickly, to avoid the inevitable problems should the flowers wilt or the petals fall before they are altogether painted.If flowers like these are to be left overnight,with the intention of carrying on work the following day,it is better to either only suggest a group of flowers by the vaguest smudge or to actually finish them completely before stopping for the day. Roses move a lot more than you might imagine.

David Austin is an English nurseryman who has bred a new generation of roses with the 'old rose'appearance but the ability to repeat flower.I've found some of these very useful.Any painter with a little land and the inclination to paint flowers will,if he's anything like me,eventually find himself taking up a sideline as a gardener.

still life: glamis rose

still life:detail: glamis rose

I begin the still life with a white or slightly toned ground. This is then toned down with a mixture of oil, raw sienna, and black, very thin. The outlines of the subject are drawn with a large hog brush, paying attention particularly to the larger masses of light and shade. The first colours are laid in quite thinly, and always somewhat darker than their anticipated final tones. At this stage it is more or less of a 'map' of the main divisions of the painting. From a distance of forty feet or so, it would look reasonably life like, but darker than necessary. From close up, it would appear very vague and extremely untidy. (This stage used to be a great problem to me.

Not having the confidence that I could always get out of a mess,I was too reluctant to get myself into one.)

Nevertheless, after years of practice and experiment this does seem the best route to follow

Get the big things right, and fit the small things into them. This presupposes that the initial layout was broad and perhaps untidy but nonetheless accurate .

And now it is a matter of bringing the picture up to the desired tone, all the while monitoring the exact tonal relationships in the still life painting.

What is relatively light in the subject must be exactly as relatively light in the painting. On this and accurate (I mean accurate, not necessarily minute) drawing the success of the thing will depend. That and the choice of still life subject in the first place.


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