Beachside Wedding Flowers, oil on canvas, 46 cm x 61 cm, by Kim Mathieson, 2009
Here's something I recently finished (yeay !). Several friends encouraged me to do a painting of my wedding flowers. I thought this would be a great way to have a keepsake of the pretty bouquet, which was really lovely with orange roses and lots of pink, red, green, violet, and white tropical flowers. I painted a great photo from our wedding, which was in Hawaii on the island of Kauai in October.
The painting took a good while to complete, but that is because I was working on other things in the meantime as well and a few of them had deadlines. ! Also, I did the painting in oils and needed to let parts in progress get touch dry before working other adjacent parts of the composition, especially when I was working on the dress or the flowers. The titanium white parts of the dress particularly took a while to dry before I could work the bright colors of the flowers next to them.
I started this painting with an acrylic underpainting, which lets me work fast to get the basic composition on the canvas and make my corrections to it. I can also work do tonal and initial color work in the fast drying acrylic paint. At that point I did not do too much with the flowers, just blocking them in place where the bouquet is, because I intended to do more with them in oils. But I did a fair bit on the beach and sea background. the sky, and especially on the back of the dress, which featured a lovely draped back neckline and draped loose scarf hemline gathered in the back from the waist, which fluttered and got picked up in the wind, as shown in the painting. I also did some work to get the back neck skin colors right, working with some highlights and accents that were shown in the photographs I had.
Then I started to work the final painting in oils. I did the dress first...but in actuality, I did the dress over several times, correcting little things, re-adjusting the shadows, which are done in soft mauvy and lilac greys and also some pale blues. I had some of the shadows bluer and then decided to lighten them up to make them more subtle. In later work on the dress I decided it was too dark and not showing enough of the sunlight on it, so I brightened the sunlit parts, to better convey the feeling of late afternoon sunshine warmth. At the end, I used an eversolight touch of Naples Yellow to mix into the white on just the two orthree draped parts of the dress that captured the most sunlight that afternoon.
To the right you can see my studio space, where I paint in the sunroom overlooking a lovely garden and the surrounding bush. I have helpers, and two of them (Maggie and Winston) were very excited to help out the day I picked up paintbrushes after being away on business travel. I think they missed painting with me, because there they were front and centre on my worktable when I was setting up to choose paint for my palette.
The flowers took a lot of work, and I did batches of colors and over the painting sessions, redid certain parts until I liked the effects. The orange in the roses presented more color mixing problems than I thought and had to be lightened up. Again, Naples Yellow to the rescue to add the more delicate areas of the orange roses that had sun shining on them. I saved the white singapore orchids to do last, after all the surrounding colored flowers were done. Then I used a medium sized brush to dab and twist to form the petals in a texture of white oil paint, adding shadings of pale spring green and greys to add some dimension to them.
One of the last work sessions had a fantastic set of colors on the palette for all the bright flowers. And Winston was on hand hiding behind the scenes, but never far away !
More next post !