We have had a very wet and cold spring here at 8,500 ft. Amidst the gray and sometimes snowy days, the brave daffodils showed their pretty faces and I felt the definite itch to paint them. I decided to try a different approach and try to capture the concept of their boldness to bloom in such bad weather without my usual careful drawing and reference photos.
I chose an 8 x 10 canvas and decided to use acrylic paints because I wanted the quick drying time, so I could change the painting more easily as I painted. I struggled with getting the look of seeing the flowers through a wet window and in getting the sense of form to the flowers.
After some thought, I felt I needed a refresher course in basic value study. I found my copy of Helen Van Wyck's book on painting flowers and and went to work on a tiny 2 and 1/2 x 3 inch canvas to study on. She is so good at explaining body tone, body shadow, cast shadow, reflected light and highlights. I had forgotten her great color mixing ideas. Mainly adding the complement to get lively shadows and highlights. A little Alizarin Crimson added to the Cadmium Yellow made my dull shadows look so much more alive.
Feeling more confident, I decided to try another tiny canvas with oils. I didn't do a refined drawing, but I did get a bit stuck and had to get one of my photos out to get the placement of the shadows right. Even Helen was painting from actual flower arrangements, so it is good to have reference. I just want to learn how to not need it so much, and that will just have to take practice.
Does anyone have any guesses what fabulous color you get when you combine Alizarin Crimson with Viridian Green? I will share the amazing answer with you in the next Blog post!
Jeff Corner: My guess is Alizaridian!