Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Amaryllis Times Two

Too many years in the California sunshine has made me feel the cold more than I had predicted. So while I am still learning to pace myself in the New Mexico winters, this week, I painted in the studio. I did two paintings this week. One was 16x20, and a variation on the theme was a tiny 6x6. The Randy Higbee show gave me the idea to try a really small size and see what I could do with a piece I had done in a much larger and slightly different format. I’d love to try and get into that show this next year, if I can tolerate working that small. So this was an effort to see if I liked the results as much in a vastly condensed size.

Amaryllis Source Shot
My yearly amaryllis plants went crazy about a month too soon. They bloomed in November just in time for turkey day rather than waiting for Christmas. While I do not consider myself a floral painter, I love the bright intensely red flowers during the holidays and had planned to paint them alla prima, from life. Because they bloomed so early, when I was not ready to paint them, I took pictures and did them in the studio.

Here you see the really neat setup that my husband fixed for me, a shelf on the left of my easel, so that I can use my computer rather than a printout for reference. At the cost of inks for printers, this should, over time, save a pretty penny. Additionally, I find that monitor  color is not as skewed as is printer color. Here you see the initial drawing and the beginning of the block in of the local color. I like to key in the background first to give me my light and dark working parameters.

I worked fairly quickly, not wanting to over-think this. I wanted the painting to have a sense of immediacy and for the brushwork to remain lively. I had done a lot of composing when I took the pictures. Its easy for a floral to get fussy and overworked. I was trying to not let that happen. This was a totally different approach than the last time I did flowers and glazed magnolias for weeks to get the required depth of form built up. Not quite alla prima, as it took two days, but the smaller one was.

Here you see the color adjustments I made as the painting progressed. I used much more orange than was visible in the photo pf the real flower. It was a very hot red and the highlights were actually a very light lilac.
This is the finished 16x20. It is going to a collector in California. 

Pictured immediately after it, is the 6x6. Tiny, but still full of impact. I actually like it better than the bigger one. I have to figure out why now.  Is it the painting itself, or the format that I like? A square does present its own compostional restrictions. But it is a nice solid shape. The brushwork does seem more prominent in the smaller one. Curious.
Christmas Amaryllis II
6z6 Oil on Prepared Board
Available - email if interested
Its the same shot, but they look radically different. Which do you prefer?

Favorite quote:
 If I could pass anything on to the next generation, it would be to follow your passion, work hard, play, be curious about everything, read a lot, travel, explore, live, love and dig deep. And don't drink cheap wine. 
(Clyde Aspevig)


  1. I like the big one best - but that's no surprise as that's a size you're used to working at. The small format is challenging but provides its own kind of satisfaction. I'm very confident you'll keep at it!

    Were you working with the same brushes for both paintings? I believe some of the people who paint in smaller formats also paint with smaller brushes so they can achieve the same effects pro-rata to the larger painting.

    Love the quote!

  2. No I used different size brushes for both, but really let fly with the emotion on the littler one! Lots of juicy paint on that one. I had bouncy Christmas carol playing in the background when I painted it. Amazing how what you play in the studio effects the painting! "Up on the rooftop reindeer fly!!!"
    I do have mini just wasn't that sort of effect I wanted.