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allydoodle
05-20-2013, 06:10 PM
The lilacs are in full bloom here, and they are beautiful. Last week I just had to paint them, but what's a person to do, there are sooooo many little petals. I tried the same approach as I did with the pansies, it was the only way I could manage these beautiful flowers. The last time I tried to paint lilacs was probably 20 years ago, and it was a disaster. I actually tried to paint all the little petals :eek: , not a good idea. Since then I'd always avoided painting them, as I wasn' t sure how to simplify. I'm more comfortable simplifying theses days, it's definitely the way to go for a subject like this. I may noodle a bit more with the background on the right, I used a really nice red violet there and I may want to put a bit more in. I don't want to overdo it, but a little more might be nice. My daughter likes this one, and she's asked if I can frame it and put it in her room. Of course I said yes :heart: .

This is done on Canson Mi Teintes, paper color tobacco. I used mostly Schmincke and Giraults, the size is 18" x 12 1/2".

I am posting a photo of the setup on my blog if anybody is interested.

Thanks for looking :D .

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-May-2013/93075-lilacs.jpg

pastel65
05-20-2013, 06:13 PM
Painting is beautiful. You are so good with color choices. :clap: Pam

chuas2
05-20-2013, 06:31 PM
Totally gorgeous Chris! And you're so brave to do lilacs. I run screaming from these, as well as hydrangeas :lol:

Just the right touches of pale to highlight all those little petals, the placement / orientation is just perfect.

Beautiful!!
Kris

DAK723
05-20-2013, 06:43 PM
Beautiful! Lovely colors and just enough detail!

Don

Donna T
05-20-2013, 06:55 PM
I agree: gorgeous! beautiful! I guess in some cases a sketch is just the first step to tightness. I'm so glad you are just jumping in capturing the bare essentials. Say, I've got some irises just beginning to bloom, shall I send you some? They mock my pitiful attempts to paint them every year. :rolleyes:

Dedrian
05-20-2013, 09:05 PM
Gorgeous! You inspire me to try again myself!

water girl
05-20-2013, 10:37 PM
You can add a bit to the right, if you must...:) ...but don't touch those lilacs! They are perfect.

pastel lover
05-20-2013, 11:47 PM
Wonderful painting. Just the right amount of simplification & just the perfect color combo.

Tanja

rsmith.1141
05-21-2013, 12:56 AM
Lovely color, Chris!

Turpintine45
05-21-2013, 01:58 AM
Beautiful Chris! Just the right amount of detail to tell the story.

Pat71
05-21-2013, 02:45 AM
Beautiful painting! Colors are great. Love the composition.

jackiesimmonds
05-21-2013, 03:14 AM
"In some cases a sketch is the first step to tightness"

I believe it is the first step to building confidence and doing preliminary thinking and therefore if looseness is required, can more easily be achieved once the underlying structure of the image is considered.

ok back to the lilacs. Chris...you may not like this much,but you can always choose not to use it.

I think your lilacs are absolutely beautiful........just would question the tobacco colour background - it is a personal choice, I know, but I really feel you could improve the picture no end if the background colour was more in keeping with the palette used for the flowers rather than for the bowl they are sitting in!

For example, there are touches of a lovely blue grey within the flowers, which would look beautiful against the pink

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-May-2013/1805-lilacs_with_grey.jpg

or you could go for colour harmony, by making the background pinker, which would relate more to the flowers

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-May-2013/1805-lilacs_pinker.jpg

do have a think about it. If you disagree and like the murky tobacco colour then just ignore me!

Tressa
05-21-2013, 06:58 AM
Flowers are lovely Chris. I think of these kinds of tiny little pieces of a whole, similar to say a stone or brick wall, etc...a few designated make the whole come alive.
Tressa

allydoodle
05-21-2013, 07:25 AM
Thanks Tressa, that was exactly how I approached painting the flowers.

allydoodle
05-21-2013, 07:50 AM
I believe it is the first step to building confidence and doing preliminary thinking and therefore if looseness is required, can more easily be achieved once the underlying structure of the image is considered.


I wholeheartedly agree Jackie. I guess a more accurate description of my approach would be to say that I did not sketch each and every flower (which would have been my old approach, and it never would work with a subject like this), but rather I indicated masses and shapes with some vine charcoal, and then went in and blocked in colors with my pastels. So there was some sketching, just not any kind of detailed sketch. More of a layout to decide design, but nothing to indicate detail. This type of approach is something I've had trouble with in the past, but I'm finding now that it is really a golden nugget. Some light bulbs have gone on I guess :lol: . I view it as a big step in the development of my art and my approach.

As for the paper color, I probably should have started out with a dark gray or burgundy. Unfortunately, I was not in my studio when I started this, I was at a friend's studio. I had tobacco and ivy with me, and I figured I would use the tobacco. I do like the gray you've suggested for the background, I may noodle with it a bit and see what happens. It's funny, I've been thinking about using more of that red violet that I put in the background on the right, which goes along with what you are saying. I was seeing that I liked the color harmony it was creating, and I wanted to add more of it. Maybe a combo of some red violets on the right (dark) and blue grays (mid tones) on the left will work.

I don't want to destroy the painting though, I've promised it to my daughter. If it were just for me I would have at it and not care. It's on Canson paper, so I will need to tread a bit more cautiously than I would with a sanded surface. I think if I keep the values similar to what I've got, but change it to a cool blue gray with some shots of red violet on the right, it just may work easily. I don't want to overwork it either, I want to keep it loose. I'll try a corner and see how it looks there. Luckily, I don't have too much pastel on this, the background isn't at all near filled, and the dark side can stay pretty close to what it is, I've probably got enough cool colors there to make it work (there's more pastel on that side of the painting).

Thanks Jackie, sometimes that murky tobacco color works great, sometimes not so much. For the record, I was going for that "old world look", you know, a feeling of an old wall, either stone or brick, but no detail at all, just a feeling by using that murky tobacco color...... :lol:, maybe I can get it with the blue gray instead.

allydoodle
05-21-2013, 08:01 AM
Thanks Pam, I appreciate it :heart: .

Thank you Kris, I can't tell you how many times I've tried painting lilacs, never worked. I've also tried hydrangeas, another horror. I think this approach is very effective, but not easy to do. I really had to squint and think large shapes. I believe landscape painting has really helped me with this type of thinking. :heart:

Thanks very much Don!

Thank you Donna. Irises mock me as well, :lol: not sure how I would approach them. Like I explained to Jackie, I guess I did sketch, but nothing in detail. I just placed some shapes to indiciate design, and then I started painting. It's so different from how I used to approach this type of thing, but my old way never worked. I do need to do some kind of layout to decide where the painting is going, but less detail is definitely new for me, and I'm likin' it :smug: :lol: .

Thanks Dedrian, give them a try too!

Thank you Karen, I'm definitely not gonna touch the lilacs, it's the background I'm going to play with. :heart:

Thank you Tanja, yup, simplification..... :D

Thanks Randy! :D

Thanks so much Jen :heart: .

Thank you Pat :D .

chuas2
05-21-2013, 11:22 AM
I love the background the way it is Chris. Oddly, it reads like a greyish burgundy color on my monitor, rather than murky tobacco it apparently is on Jackie's.

At any rate, I came back to marvel at this. Interesting point about landscapes...food for thought!
Kris

allydoodle
05-21-2013, 01:05 PM
Thanks Kris. I'm still mulling this over, I might play on the computer a bit to check values. I have an idea, not sure if it will work though. Right now it definitely is a brownish background, with hits of redish violet. I want to put more of that redish violet on the right, it's a rich dark color. The whole background does need tweaking, I hope I can get it right.

I really think landscapes have forced me to think more abstractly. They definitely have helped me to simplify, and by doing that I'm looking at shapes not "things". I find myself doing that with all subjects now, and I think it's a good thing.

P.S. I just did some noodling on the computer, and it seems when I convert my original painting into black and white the values are spot on. They work perfectly. When I convert Jackie's close up where she changed the background, the value of the background is almost the same as the flowers. When I looked at her suggestion that was my first thought, and I was right. I don't want the background and the flowers to be the same value, I want the flowers to pop more. I need to think on this a bit more, it's all about value, I have to get that right.

Take a look, my painting converted to black and white:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-May-2013/93075-lilacs_1_black_and_white.jpg

This is Jackie's suggestion converted to black and white. I know she did this on the computer, which is way less effective than actually using pastel sticks. I know she was handicapped, which is why I wanted to convert this before just jumping in. I knew something wasn't right. Computers are great tools, but they only give you an idea, they don't give you all the answers. With her mad skills, if Jackie used pastel sticks she would have made this look waaaay better, I know she would have. This was just to give me an idea, which I am still considering:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-May-2013/93075-lilacs_close_up_and_background_change_black_and_white.jpg

I like the idea of incorporating the colors of the flowers into the background for harmony, just not sure how I want to do it. For me I need to see more of a value contrast than there is here, which I have with my painting right now. I know I can make some changes and still keep the values where I want them, but some serious noodling is required I think.

Donna T
05-21-2013, 02:57 PM
It's interesting to see your painting in values only, Chris. I like the way your lilacs and leaves gradually merge with the background. That gives such a soft look and a sense of mystery too. Is the brown color of the vase actually the Canson paper showing? However you did that it integrates the background to the rest very nicely.

Oh, when I said before "in some cases a sketch is just the first step to tightness" I should have said "in my case ..." I never meant to imply that sketching shouldn't be done at all, but that I tend to be bound to the lines I make and the more details I include in a sketch the tighter my paintings become!

John Palmer Fine Art
05-21-2013, 03:11 PM
Beautiful painting Chris, the way you have simplified the tiny petals has worked perfectly, the flowers are instantly recognizable as lilacs.

Terry Wynn
05-21-2013, 06:15 PM
Hi, Chris,

To be truthful, at first glance, I didn't notice the background. I loved that a little bit of highlight and distinct marks would let me know that these were lilacs. Then, the scent-o-vision kicked in and I was awash in fragrance :lol:

Wouldn't change a thing and I loved the less is more style of your floral paintings.

Terry

Mado
05-22-2013, 01:54 AM
Your lilacs are gorgeous ! What a beautiful palette on them !

Dougwas
05-22-2013, 02:50 AM
You know you have a winner when your daughter wants it for her bedroom! I think the flowers look great with the neutral background. Great job, Chris.

Doug

jackiesimmonds
05-22-2013, 03:17 AM
how interesting. I simply used photoshop to convert the background to that sort of blue-grey, didn't worry about value, i was more concerned with the way that the COLOURS work together, and for me, a blue-grey, alongside the pink, was far nicer than what looks, on my computer, muddy river brown!!!! I do understand what you want re values, but actually, even if there is little value change, sometimes a colour contrast works just as well, this is slightly strange but true. It is all about "simultaneous contrast" - colour relationships - everything is affected by whatever it is placed next to, and as Richard McKinley says "it's the colour relationships that create colour excitement". However, having said that- what for one person is exciting, is not exciting to another!! So at the end of the day, if you feel that cerise pink looks great next to tobacco brown (I would use another word which is FAR less kind than tobacco!!!!!), then by all means, go for it, Chris.

I daresay that the tone values on the second one I changed are probably more right, because I just chose "redder" in photoshop, rather than a colour change.

I could "see" that brown working alongside flowers which are cream, or orange, or peach. It is just the juxtaposition of that yellowy brown (on my monitor) with a blueish pink, which I find really uncomfortable to view. perhaps if the tone values and temperature were different....a lovely cool darker brown - I might like it more. Anyway, over to you !

chuas2
05-22-2013, 11:27 AM
Chris
Is there a difference between serious noodling and just noodling? And is noodling the same as faffing (as Ruthie would say).
:lol:

Dying to see what you do with this! And I'm taking to heart what you said about landscapes and shapes, and applying this to my next painting. Also looking at values via Photoshop (I'm better at Photoshop than I am at painting), so thank you for the thought food (and Jackie too).
Kris

Joyful_Artwork
05-22-2013, 08:36 PM
Lovely

twiglet
05-23-2013, 01:51 AM
Beautifully done Chris. I can see why your daughter wants it :)

DBfarmgirl
05-23-2013, 07:13 AM
I really like this one. I like how you handled the lilac shape, they don't look at all stiff, but true to life. I can almost smell them from here...

Tressa
05-23-2013, 08:36 AM
Hi Chris,
I took the liberty of leaving your color AS IS, and punched up the color a bit, lightening the left side a wee bit whilst darkening the right. I think it just needs a little value contrast on the right to really make the lilacs pop.
I like the neutral earth tone you have, so just my 2 cents. :)

Tressa
05-23-2013, 08:38 AM
Oops! Sorry, I forgot to turn off my watermark:rolleyes:

Tressa
05-23-2013, 04:27 PM
Chris, feel free to delete my post

Mettaphorica
05-23-2013, 11:13 PM
To my inexperienced eyes, the first impression I got was of a 'old worlde look' though purists and those in the know may poo pooh me.

I too think it's just gorgeous and I love the colours and the combinations.

just lovely!
cheers
Donna

PS I'm still at the 'sketch everything in' stage...it drives me nuts that I can be so anal.

allydoodle
05-24-2013, 09:22 PM
Thank you Donna. I actually did use some pastels in the vase, though there are some areas where the paper color is peeking through.

Thank you John, much appreciated!

Thanks very much Mado, I appreciate it!

Hey Doug, thanks! I know, when a 15 year old likes something, and actually admits it, then I guess I'm on to something!

Yo Kris! Yes there is actually :lol: . Serious noodling requires actual dedicated time, whereas regular noodling only requires the ocassional pass by the studio, and "oh, let me just get this", and then I move on to other things... :evil: Now faffing, I believe, is the same thing as noodling, but I don't know if there are different degress of faffing (serious faffing and just faffing). We should ask Ruthie to be sure :D ..... About landscapes and shapes, I find that the inherent shapes of things like clouds, grasses and shadows, trees, creeks, roads... whatever... they all need to be observed and adjusted to make the painting work. When doing the lilacs it was like that, I wasn't being very literal, yet I needed to make sure the shapes were working. I don't always do the value thing on the computer with my paintings, but when I do I always find it pretty neat.

Thank you joyful artwork!

Thanks very much twiglet!

Thanks so much Sharen!

Thanks Terry, you have scent-o-vision? Wow, I want some of that :lol: ! You're too nice!

Thanks Tressa, I like the earthy colors too, along with the red violet that I used. For me it's working. I am a fan of playing with values, which is what I've been playing with. I think I am close.

Thank you Donna, I appreciate it. That's exactly what I was going for, I'm glad you get it. As for sketching, sometimes all that is needed is a quick block in to get the design and values down, and then go straight into the painting, which is what I did here. Sketching is a valuable tool, but it is easy to get bogged down in the details. It really depends on the type of painting you want to do. For this one I really wanted to capture the 'essense' of lilacs, not each and every petal. It worked very well for this painting to just block in the shapes and then start painting. Sometimes though, a more detailed sketch is necessary! If you want to try this approach, maybe try some lilacs too, or hydrangeas, anything that has multiple petals and seems overwhelming. Just place the large shapes where you want them and then start blocking in colors, paying attention to your values. See what happens!

Andrew
05-25-2013, 05:18 AM
I love lilacs, they are one of my favorite flowers. Reminds me of my grandmother's house. She had gorgeous lilac bushes. And this painting does the flower justice.

I agree with Jackie. Although, from an underpainting perspective, I think the tobacco coloured paper was a good choice. My preference would have been to scumble over with a colour that tied in with the bluish-grey shadow colour of the flowers (or if you were of a more mixed media mentality, a loose mottled watercolour/acrylic wash). That would have tied in nicely the lilacs, and the earthy orange brown of the paper. But that is just a personal preference.

My only real criticism, and again shows more my preferences than anything lacking in your work. You are far more skilled in the application of soft pastels than I. Had I approached this work, I would have sharpened a few of the edges on the focal side to help guide the viewer's eyes towards the lilacs. And I would have raised eye level a wee bit, to show some of the surface on which the vase is setting. For me that would help build the cast shadow forms, and the reflected light (or reflections depending on the surface) would have helped balance the composition.

As I said, that says more of my compositional preferences than anything else.

Andrew

allydoodle
05-27-2013, 01:13 AM
Thank you for taking the time to comment Andrew. Because brown paper was what I had with me (I wasn't in my studio painting this), I felt it could be a jumping point to achieve an old world look to the lilacs. I've added more of that red violet that I have on the right to the left side's background, it's a darker value with some warmth and it's more in line with what I was after. It provides the contrast I was looking for, as well as the warmth and an old world look. It works well with the brown color of the paper as well as the color of the lilacs. I really didn't want a blue/gray background, it wasn't the look I was trying to achieve. Trying to cover brown toned paper with blue gray would require way too much pastel, and you run the risk of overworking the piece just by trying to cover up the brown. It really is not the proper way to use colored paper. I try to use the paper color to my advantage and not change it, just enhance it. That is the beauty (and the whole point) of Canson paper, and colored papers in general.

As far as the compositon is concerned, I accomplished what I wanted with this one. I intended to cut off the bottom of the vase, I wanted exactly that look, it's just what my vision was. I don't feel the composition is unbalanced, there are some interesting shapes in the negative spaces of the background. It is by no means a masterpiece, it's just a simple sketch done from life quickly, the lilacs don't last very long. I actually painted the lilacs and vase, as well as the right side of the background, in about two hours. If you check my blog (http://dimaurodustyeasel.blogspot.com/) you will see that I truly just threw the lilacs on a table that already had a mumble jumble of objects on it, put a light on it, and started to paint. It was a very spontaneous painting, not at all planned. To that end, I think it was successful. Again, not a masterpiece, just a spontaneous painting done in a short amount of time. No photo references were used, and not a lot of planning. I did work on the lilacs a bit more after the photo was taken, as well as the background.

Thanks for your comments, I know everybody has their preferences. This one really was done by the seat of my pants, just to explore the simplification of lilacs. That it ended up being a finished painting was a happy accident.

As I mentioned earlier, may daughter likes this painting and has asked me if I could have it framed and hang it in her room. Of course I said yes.... It has been sitting in my den unframed, so that I can observe it to be sure I'm not missing anything before it goes into it's frame. She remarked last night that although she loves the lilacs, she really loves the background! She has no idea this discussion has been going on here on WetCanvas, so I guess I hit a nerve with her. The moment she saw the painting she asked for it, and for some reason that background speaks to her..... I can't argue with that can I :lol: ? Others have commented specifically on the background as well, stating that they specifically like it.....after adding the redish violet on the left along with the brown it's now done....it's working for me :D .

Maybe I'll post an update, or maybe not.....:evil:

jackiesimmonds
05-27-2013, 02:54 AM
at the end of the day, the painting has to speak to you, and if it speaks to your daughter too, what better than that.

Another thing to bear in mind when posting images to the internet, is that everyone's monitor differs slightly for colour. I know this to be absolutely true, because I have an old computer and monitor in my studio, and there is a new monitor in an office on the bottom floor of my house - when I compare my own work on both screens, there is often a marked difference in the colours.

So - since your painting has found a home with someone who loves it, I reckon JOB DONE!!!

artsask
05-27-2013, 07:06 PM
Nicely done.

Trudi

allydoodle
05-29-2013, 02:03 PM
Thank you Trudi!

Andrew
05-30-2013, 12:13 AM
Thank you for taking the time to comment Andrew. Because brown paper was what I had with me (I wasn't in my studio painting this), I felt it could be a jumping point to achieve an old world look to the lilacs. I've added more of that red violet that I have on the right to the left side's background, it's a darker value with some warmth and it's more in line with what I was after. It provides the contrast I was looking for, as well as the warmth and an old world look. It works well with the brown color of the paper as well as the color of the lilacs. I really didn't want a blue/gray background, it wasn't the look I was trying to achieve. Trying to cover brown toned paper with blue gray would require way too much pastel, and you run the risk of overworking the piece just by trying to cover up the brown. It really is not the proper way to use colored paper. I try to use the paper color to my advantage and not change it, just enhance it. That is the beauty (and the whole point) of Canson paper, and colored papers in general.

As far as the compositon is concerned, I accomplished what I wanted with this one. I intended to cut off the bottom of the vase, I wanted exactly that look, it's just what my vision was. I don't feel the composition is unbalanced, there are some interesting shapes in the negative spaces of the background. It is by no means a masterpiece, it's just a simple sketch done from life quickly, the lilacs don't last very long. I actually painted the lilacs and vase, as well as the right side of the background, in about two hours. If you check my blog (http://dimaurodustyeasel.blogspot.com/) you will see that I truly just threw the lilacs on a table that already had a mumble jumble of objects on it, put a light on it, and started to paint. It was a very spontaneous painting, not at all planned. To that end, I think it was successful. Again, not a masterpiece, just a spontaneous painting done in a short amount of time. No photo references were used, and not a lot of planning. I did work on the lilacs a bit more after the photo was taken, as well as the background.

Thanks for your comments, I know everybody has their preferences. This one really was done by the seat of my pants, just to explore the simplification of lilacs. That it ended up being a finished painting was a happy accident.

As I mentioned earlier, may daughter likes this painting and has asked me if I could have it framed and hang it in her room. Of course I said yes.... It has been sitting in my den unframed, so that I can observe it to be sure I'm not missing anything before it goes into it's frame. She remarked last night that although she loves the lilacs, she really loves the background! She has no idea this discussion has been going on here on WetCanvas, so I guess I hit a nerve with her. The moment she saw the painting she asked for it, and for some reason that background speaks to her..... I can't argue with that can I :lol: ? Others have commented specifically on the background as well, stating that they specifically like it.....after adding the redish violet on the left along with the brown it's now done....it's working for me :D .

Maybe I'll post an update, or maybe not.....:evil:


I think that the spontaneous nature is the strongest aspect of this piece. It is also, IMO, one of the strongest aspects of pastel as a medium. Lilacs, as well as loosestrife (forgetting that it is an invasive species) take to a generally looser application, which I suppose is one reason they are a popular subject.

The main reason that I liked the warm brown paper was that as an underpainting I find it a strong option. Regardless of my medium, I normally tone my support in a warm earth tone or a warm to neutral grey. I find the bits that show through make for a stronger work. But I make no pretense at being a photorealist either. But that is me, and a reflection of my preferences and training. And not necessarily a reflection of my choices of work to show in my home (or studio when I have one. Currently I am working without a permanent studio space).

It is fantastic that this work has already found a home and the appreciation that it is due. I am quite envious of anyone who can handle pastels so fluently. I love them dearly as a medium, but the softer pastels do not view me in the same regard. Apparently my approach to a support is not as conducive to a successful pastel painting I would often wish.

Andrew

chuas2
05-31-2013, 10:48 AM
I love this painting Chris, just came back for some inspiration and I noticed (to my dismay) that you hadn't asked for C&C.

My apologies, I will try and keep this in mind going forward.

Bottom line for me, is LOVE it!
Kris
:heart:

allydoodle
05-31-2013, 05:40 PM
Thanks for your comments Andrew, yes, pastels are very spontaneous, that is just one of the reasons I love working with them. FWIW, I don't always use brown paper to paint on, it's just one of many mid-dark tones that I enjoy using. I really do think about the subject and what I want to achieve, and the correct paper color can make all the difference. Of course, when I work on sanded surfaces, this all goes out the window. I can tone my paper to whatever I want (I love underpaintings...), I don't need to choose a paper color in advance.

Hey Kris, thanks so much. Yeah, I never did ask for C&C on this one. My reason was because my daughter already loved the painting, and I didn't want to introduce any drastic changes. When somebody loves something out of the gate, there's no point in changing it up. I promised it to her, so I figured that hearing about possible changes and different points of view regarding personal preferences would just make things more confusing than was necessary...... so much for that.... anyway, no worries, the painting survived just fine, I stuck to my vision and everybody's happy :D :heart: .