Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Secret of White Flowers

I was in visiting my parents on a weekend during my last business trip. I always go out and look to see what is in the garden there. My mother has some lovely roses and this time one of the star bloomers at this very time was a big Iceberg rose bush. They photographed wonderfully. In fact, I think I have hit on the secret for good photos of white roses (and maybe is true for all white flowers). Photograph them late in the day, when the sun is not splashing their white color too brightly. I photographed them in evening on a long summer day, maybe 730PM. Still good light for capturing them and they had lovely shadows and color tones showing. Maybe the best photos I have ever gotten of white roses and far better than photographing them in sunlight.

Today I decided to paint one of the photos I had taken. If there is a secret to photographing white flowers, I am thinking there must also be one to painting white flowers ! Not sure I know it yet, but no way to know and learn other than getting in there and learning by doing !

I decided to start this painting a bit differently. I did the background first (above), to give me a good negative image to paint my white roses.

Then onto the flowers. Well, first, they aren't really "white". They are anything but. So I did a palette of white mixed with pale green-gold, buff titanium (so a pale warm beige), teensy bits of raw umber to make a pale grey, and also some mixes with a red and a raw sienna. These gave me some not-just-white to create the subtle differences between the shadings and layers of delicate white and not-so-white petals. It felt like I was actually carving the whiter parts and highlights out of darker shades.

I needed to end on a good point with some good navigation points for the composition, so I could build well on today's work and also make sure I could find my way painting these not-just-white flowers. To do this, I exaggerated some of the tones and demarcation points. Though on reflection, maybe they are not going to be exaggerations...maybe they are truth in vision about the may shades of not-white I am painting.

The goal is to finish this painting before the next trip. Stay tuned, more soon.

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