"If you always do what you always did -- you'll always get what you always got,"
Lately, I have been trying to be less literal, i.e. using my set-up for a starting point, but not necessarily sticking with that exact representation. It's OK to change placement, colors, background, whatever, and still retain the power of painting from life...
Duh! I guess it took me so long to be able to catch in paint the subject before me that I forgot or feared changing things as needed on the canvas. Often this is a problem as well when en plein air or when using a photo reference.
Below are some peonies purchased last week from Trader Joe's, which I randomly placed in a sparkly glass and added a light source. I've painted this-type subject a TON in my life, and while I do love white flowers, and the movement of stems in glass vase, I switched it up, as seen in photos below.
I made the decision to roughly paint in a grey-toned background, meant to pop the pale peonies; the flowers were laid in with lots of palette knife slashes. When I saw the grey, I thought -- how about a bright vase? Below is a progress shot, where I have most of the peonies as seen, but then realized that something was needed on the upper left of the canvas.
So I pulled one peony from the glass, in order to see the light effect. After adding that shape to the painting, it was obvious that the addition helped matters! I used to be too nervous to change the arrangement (being my literal self and wanting to be able to reproduce the flowers as they appeared).
Progress photo with addition of new flower
Then, after correcting a few items, I decided to leave the background way less refined than usual, and was pleased with the pops of light and the spontaneous feeling. I had to put this one in another room, however, so I would not work on it.
An artist never really finishes his work;
he merely abandons it," Paul Valéry
Wild Sweet Things, 30 x 24, Oil on Linen
Just found out that three spots are available at the last minute for my Alla Prima workshop at Atlanta Artists Center next week (May 19 and 20th). If you can come, we will have some fun: painting fast and loose and being less literal😎 To join us, call Zindi at AAC -- 404-237-2324.