|Hydrangeas for a Sunday Afternoon|
12 x 16 Oil Painting
By Pat Fiorello
She has done a bit of oil painting already wiht some excellent instructors but wanted to learn how to paint flowers. We spent the day painting a still life of these hydrangeas together. I use several different approaches for oil painting, but the transparent underpainting approach that I first learned from Hedi Moran is one of my favorites because it is fun and freeing. I feel like I am almost sculpting with paint since the process is so malleable.
Here are the steps.
In stage 1 you only use transparent paints- no white, no cadmiums, just tranparents. You can use some medium to thin them a bit. You do not want really thick paint at this point. Just laying in a base to paint on top of.
First mass in the flower shapes generally in the darkest color that you see ( not worried about light and shadow yet, just going for shape and placement). For my blues I used ultaramarine and thalo which are transparent- did not use cerulean or cobalt yet since they are not transparent. But we may use them in Stage II.
Mass in leaf shapes with darkest color you see in your set up.
Next add in underpainting for vase. I'm working here with warm light and cool shadow so I used indian yellow for the lit side and a purplish blue( ultramarine and permanent rose) for the shadow side. Look and see if you like the overall shape of your bouquet and vase. At anytime you can wipe off and reshape. You can also cut in to the shape with the background later on too.
Now we have to put in an underpainting for the background. I chose an orange for this particular painting because ultimately I will want a neutral grey and blue and orange make grey. Also this painting will be predominantly blue so if a few bits of orange peek thru in the background that may be a nice touch of complementary color for contrast. But there are lots of ways to go here.
At this point you have to calm yourself down because the painting is sooooo intense and garrish- but don't worry this is just Stage one- the underpainting- setting the stage for what will come on top of it. Breathe. Everything is going to be all right- and if not, we can always scrape it all down. I had the opportunity to study with Ovanes Berberian, an amazing Russian Impressionist painter. As I'm painting, I can still hear him saying in his thick Russian accent "You scrape, You learn!"
So the canvas is totally covered wiht the underpainting. if you are satisfied with the composition move on, if not wipe out and revise.
Okay, now we are switching gears. Moving on to Stage II. Now you can use all your paints, so take out the white and the cadmiums, yellow ochre. Anything goes.
Now we begin to build form on each of the shapes. We already have the darks laid in, just need to add midtones and lights. Try not to cover up all those darks, let some show thru. I'm trying to follow the pattern of light falling on the hydrangeas.
Continue painting each area, the flowers, the leaves, the background, vase, tabletop, shadows. Refine as you see fit. Sign the painting and you're done.
Hope you had fun!
Here are a couple of close-ups of some brushwork.
Hydrangeas are so much fun to paint!