View Full Version : Hydrangea WIP

02-19-2008, 06:03 PM
This is my latest effort at the easel and I was hoping for a little guidance as to what to highlight to make the focal point. The flowers will all be refined slightly to define their positions and depth. The green does not show quite right here, the pot is more of an emerald color, I will also add more leaves, I think.


This is acrylic on 20 X 24 inch canvas. The picture was taken outdoors on my windowsill. The snow is beginning to recede and has gone down about 24 inches. Spring can not come soon enough!

02-19-2008, 06:26 PM
Hey Sue.
Lovely use of colour here.
I am wondering if the pot is fighting with the flowers for center stage here!
(The shading on it is spectacular!)
Possibly you can add another flower on the top middle to elongate the flowers and define them a bit more?
Wonderful so far.
I really like the leaves they are wonderful.

02-19-2008, 06:50 PM
Nice work Sue. This is a nice painting, but I've seen enough of your work here that I think I can push you a little on this one.

It is a little hard to tell where the light is coming from. The flowers have some shading on the left and the table on the left appears a little darker than the right suggesting a light source somewhat to the right. The vase, however, seems to be almost spot lighted from the front. I am terrible with getting round shapes round so I wouldn't begin to try to tell you how to do it, but I would try to make the light source more apparent. I would also deepen the shadows on the flowers to make them stand out more and match the depth of shadows on the vase (is this what you meant by "refining"?). Take this with a grain of salt. I like photographing flowers, but I'm no flower painter.

As Kathleen said, the colors are lovely although I might mute the reds a little more. That said I love the color of the wall. The drawing is good (yes, nice leaves).

One last thought/question. Is this from a reference photo? Perhaps taken with a dreaded camera mounted flash?

This will be a good one!

02-19-2008, 07:11 PM
Thanks Kathleen, I do agree that the pot is fighting for center stage and ill try to tone it down.

Bill, how can I thank you? this is exactly what I am looking for! I had several reference photos and I think that is part of the problem as they are not all taken in the same lighting. I will take all of your suggestions and put them to good use.

02-19-2008, 07:37 PM
:wave: Hi Sue!

Lovely, just lovely! That pot is amazing - the color is so wonderful and the highlight on it is spectacular. I hope you don't tweak that at all.

I'm certainly no expert, but I have always thought that with a floral centerpiece type of still, the floral arrangement is the focal. With this in mind, I think all you need to do here is to beef up the contrasts on your flowers. I think that's what I'd do before messing with the background or (gulp) that gorgeous pot! Personally, I don't think it needs more leaves. I especially like the way you've painted that sprig down the (our) left side.

I'm posting a shot of one of the only centerpiece-type floral pieces I've done to illustrate adding the stronger contrasts to the flowers. (wish I had a better example, sigh) I hope it's helpful. Can't wait to see this done! :D



02-19-2008, 09:14 PM
Bill hit the problem on the nose for you Sue bt it is still one of your beautiful fllorals and very well done so far.Waitin' for the big finish:)

Margaret 59
02-19-2008, 09:43 PM
Sue, this is looking good and I particularly like the pot and background so pleeeese don't change them. :wave: :clap:

02-19-2008, 10:47 PM
This is looking really good. I just think you need to darken the values in the blooms. The shading on the pot is great.

02-19-2008, 11:36 PM
This is pretty. I love the pot and highlighting. Maybe a few stray petals? I know I make a mess when I try to arrange flowers. I will check to see the final finish! Ruthie

02-20-2008, 12:29 AM
great advice here!

02-20-2008, 12:34 AM
Sue, I love the flowers and the pot...they are both beautiful. You got enough advice, I just cannot wait to see the end result.

02-20-2008, 12:35 AM
Sue I like the pot and background. I also like the Hydrangea, though they seem a little flat. I understand that this is a wip and am looking forward to seeing it finished.

02-20-2008, 07:41 AM
This is a good start. I look forward to seeing it finished.

02-20-2008, 08:33 AM
right now my eye goes to the highlight on the pot because of the contrast. i agree with elizabeth that as you put more contrast into the flowers they will become more dominant. it seems like the negative spaces between the flowers can become a lot darker and that will move things along. beautiful colors--you really caught the blues of the hydrangea--and your light blues do NOT look chalky! how'd you do that???? mine always end up awful! chris

02-20-2008, 10:04 AM
It is going to be beautiful.....waiting to see next picture

02-20-2008, 01:28 PM
My vote is for more work on the flowers, and leave the rest alone.

02-20-2008, 05:23 PM
Can't wait to see the update on this one.

02-20-2008, 06:18 PM
Well here is the latest edition. Now I think the highlight is too strong on the flowers on the table and the eye is drawn there. I wish I could get the color more exact but this is the best I can get it.


Thanks Elizabeth for posting your hydrangeas, that really helped, yours were so nice and round and mine were flat! Thanks Tony, Margaret, Tracey, Ruthie, Colleen, Susan, Cami, Arl, Chris ( I use gesso for white when mixing colors and it is smoother to work with), Aggie, Michelle, and Gayle for all your encouragement and wonderful comments. I hope I have not spoiled this, I only worked on the leaves and flowers and added some scattered petals.

So should anyone see anything that needs a little work, please let me know and I will get this one finished.

02-20-2008, 08:18 PM
Looking good, Sue. I think a little complementary shadowing would bring even more contrast to the blossoms.

02-20-2008, 08:21 PM
Great improvements! I love love the background!

02-20-2008, 08:44 PM
I think it's beautiful and so much improvement. I like how the hydrangeas pop with reds in the bg :)

02-21-2008, 07:01 AM
:wave: Hi Sue!

Your flowers are much fluffier now! They're coming alive! :) Still concerning the flowers though, I think you can still push some of the darker values, especially toward the back and between them. If you view your painting in black and white, try and make some of the dark values in the flowers match the values in your table/counter surface. You will see some very distinct contrasts emerge when you do this and it will make the highlights pop even more.

You're getting so very close. I love the little pedals in front of the vase, by the way. This is such a great piece! :D


02-21-2008, 07:42 AM
I think the contrasts in the blooms are looking good.

02-22-2008, 08:34 PM
Awsome painting Sue ! I love it.

02-22-2008, 08:50 PM
Sue - love your painting - hydrangeas are my favorite flower and you've painted these beautifully.

You'll want to shoot me but I'm wondering why the warm red bakground - have you played with how the flowers woulkd look with a less saturated / more grayed background - I think the beautiful greens and blues would take center stage more that way.

My other two cents worth is the edges of the blooms on the table are sharper then in the vase and I think that contrast is what is drawing the eye.

Of course this is only my humble opinion and I love it as it is:lol: :wave:

02-26-2008, 05:15 AM
Ok, I am back with my latest update. I spent forever on the color in Photoshop trying to match it as close as possible to the real thing. It is actually a lot deeper than in the last photo, and deeper than what shows here but I lose the bloom color if I get the background right, so you will have to imagine it deeper.


I think I have made at least most of the corrections and checked it in grayscale as Elizabeth suggested and it seems better now. Ruth, the background was originally supposed to be more brown but it seemed too cold so I gave it the wash of red to warm it up and yes it is a bit odd for the hydrangeas. You were also right about the blooms on the table and I hope I have corrected that.

Thanks Linda, Mrs.G, Soni, Tracey, and Laura; I hope you all like the changes.

02-26-2008, 06:40 AM
:wave: Hi Sue!

I love the drama of the strong contrasts in your bouquet. Great job! You always work so hard on your paintings and they show it! Please don't hate me, but I'm going to make another suggestion and that is to add a few more colors to your blooms - especially towards their shadow sides. Since you have photoshop, maybe you could experiment with a few colors. Maybe some hints of the wall color would be present in the back blooms....just tiny subtle hints though. I read somewhere though that if you have warm colors, you should have cool shadows and if you have cool colors, warm shadows. With this in mind, some of the colors in your flower shadows would be warm since the main color is blue. You could try a light wash or some dabs that lean toward the redish side on some of the back blooms and see what you think. Maybe some of the flower painters will have some better suggestions. Value-wise though, I think you're "there!" The highlights are wonderful. The leaves and pot are gorgeous. You're getting close. :D


02-26-2008, 08:00 AM
Much better Sue. Hydrangeas are such a challenging flower to paint too, with so much detail. I tend to agree about neutralizing the background to push it visually back more. You can do this with glazing over it. Try maybe a raw umber glaze - heavy on the glazing medium, light on the paint. Just try a little on a small area - maybe even on a separate paper covered w/same background color to experiment first. Then, if you find a nice glazing color that you like, you can even glaze over areas all throughout your painting to unify it more. One suggestion regarding the bouquet itself - determine your focal area of the cluster and allow more soft/blurred edges on supporting clusters rather than have equal definition all around. Your done that to some extent here, but I think you could get away with more of those lost edges to channel the eye where you want it.

Quite a challenging painting you've done and I like Elizabeth think you're almost there - well done Sue.

02-26-2008, 11:51 AM
I like it! :thumbsup:

02-26-2008, 12:06 PM
Your improvements have done wonders. I really like the depth you've created in the blooms.

02-26-2008, 10:49 PM
Hi Elizabeth :wave: , you know it is funny, I was thinking last night that maybe it need some different color in the blooms, but I was afraid I would muck it up. Thanks for keeping me going on this one, I can see the improvements. Celeste, thanks for your kind words and suggestions, I will try the glaze.
Thanks Michelle and Debee for the support. I will post the results soon.

02-26-2008, 11:12 PM
Sue, is this pot shiny? If so, the blue from the flowers would be reflected back into the pot too. Looking good so far, please show us more as you work on it.

02-26-2008, 11:18 PM
Am really enjoying watching this develop....so beautiful.

02-27-2008, 05:48 PM
Well, here is the latest update, I do not know if it is improving or if I have "mucked it all up"!! I did a raw umber glaze over the background, and I think I softened the petals somewhat. I am now thinking of redoing the center bloom. I am placing the last 2 images side by side so you can judge them easier. The latest one is first. The green of the pot is closest to the color in the second photo but I cannot seem to get the same color each time (I find photoshop extremely frustrating!!)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/10094-2hydrangea500.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/10094-Hydrangea500.jpg

Thanks Foxy, this pot is not really shiny just smooth painted ceramic, but I will remember your tip for another painting.

Thanks Susie, I hope you continue liking this as it progresses.

02-27-2008, 06:33 PM
How lovely.
What you now have to decide is , when are "You" satisfied with it?
Then you will be done it!
As it is, It is beautiful.

Thomas Greaves
02-27-2008, 07:59 PM
I'm loathe to comment here because this is really not to my taste, but I will say that your latest update is a lot easier on the eye, to me it has a 'victorian parlour' feel about it. I think you have done well with a difficult subject.

02-27-2008, 08:03 PM
Wonderful Sue. See how subduing the background allows the lovely flowers to be the focus? You did great!

02-27-2008, 08:35 PM
Sue and I have been chatting - I couldn't resist playiing with the image in order to light balance it and increase the drama - this is much closer to the painting in tonal range:


02-28-2008, 07:41 AM
:wave: WoW! This has come a long way, Sue! The background is stunning and really showcases the still wonderfully! I don't think you've mucked it up at all. You're very carefully proceeding, and you keep taking this to another level. :clap:

I'm glad you mentioned that you were pleased I'm still with you on this because sometimes I feel as if I just keep picking.

OK, so here goes. Please take or leave the following as this could very well be done now if you wanted it to be: The light would not be picking up just the blooms and pot. Take for instance the blooms and loose pedals on the table/surface - there would either be some light on the surface as well, or, the blooms would be mostly in shadows. The light seems to be coming from our right/center. Therefore, there would be some touches of illumination on the surface leading to the loose flowers, zinging the pot (which you already have perfectly), hitting certain flowers and leaves in the pot, and finally hitting some areas on the wall behind (which you've already done). If you make a light path first in your mind's eye, you will be able to set up this path in your painting to lead/direct the eye of the viewer. This would mean more work in both light and dark in the blooms, especially on the blooms in the back and limiting the very brightest of highlights for the pieces of bloom along the light's path.

I like the addition of the colors other than blue in the flowers. You're heading in the right direction with that. I don't think you should be timid about experimenting with some more colors though. Remember, it's just paint, and putting the blue back in should not be too difficult, right? Just in case a particular color or colors don't work.

Sorry to be so wordy and I hope some of the above is helpful.

I'm enjoying so much seeing this painting grow stronger and stronger. :thumbsup: :D


02-28-2008, 03:55 PM
Thanks Kathleen, Thomas, Celeste and once again, Ruth. Elizabeth, as always your comments are spot on. I will give it a go, am thinking of adding a little green into the blooms. Trust me, you are not wordy - my husband refers to me as "Loquacious One" :lol:

I really appreciate all the time and assistance you all have been through this project and, indeed, all of my projects.

02-28-2008, 04:11 PM
you have really come a long way on this one! I think it is amazing to see the transformations that happen as we progress through our projects, each step is such a great learning process. You have done a superb job!

04-14-2008, 05:09 PM
After a long absence, I am finally getting around to posting what I hope is the last retakes of this piece. I completely redid the center bloom and I hope you can see the difference between the first pictures and these ones. I glazed over the pot and I think it no longer steals the show from the hydrangeas.

This is the picture as it came out of the camera, without any color changes etc. in my attempt to make it look closer to the actual painting:

This is the way it looks after retouching the color etc. It is still not quite accurate the blooms are more purplish in tone:

Let me know if you think I should make any more corrections or just call it quits with this one.

04-14-2008, 08:05 PM
:wave: We haven't seen you in a while, Sue; nice to have you back! Your painting is gorgeous! Love the overall softening. Your hard work on this really paid off! I'd say it's done - and well done, I might add! :clap: :D :clap:


04-15-2008, 12:49 PM
Nice finish, though, dare I say it... I liked the drama of the dark background. But that's just me, you can call it finished now.

04-17-2008, 04:22 AM
Thanks Elizabeth and Michelle for your comments. I am satisfied with this as being complete now and am thinking about attempting a similar one with the hydrangeas being much lighter in color. So many ideas, so little time and money!!

04-17-2008, 04:57 AM
Thanks for sharing your learning here... It was very motivating... Nice job Sue!!