Tuesday, August 10, 2010

RookiePainter Challenge - Pink Dahlia

Wherein i learn that running about flailing my arms & screaming, "i can't do it! i can't do it!!" does. not. help.

hi there!

I knew this one was going to be hard. I've never done flowers (well, one rather stilted tulip!) - and i really dislike the color pink. but in the process, i made some great discoveries & have a much better idea how to proceed in the future!

this is the photo posted over at rookiepainter:

i thought the background need a bit of something. i found this wallpaper online & photoshopped it in. (actually GIMPed it in; i use gimp - opensource, free, and i think funner to use than photoshop - partially because - it's free!)

i liked what that blue was doing, so off i started. first thing, i put the grid in front & studied where everything needed to go:

i put a grid on my canvas (5x7, btw) with charcoal, brushed off the excess, and put in a simple external outline:

then i sketched in the insides of the flower, and a hint of the wallpaper design:

now, this is where i started to have the first tremors of concern. that center section just wasn't coming up right. but i forged ahead!

first i decided on the colors for the background. i wanted that blue sorta purple, to set off the oranges in the pink petals, and also greyed down a bit. so i chose phthalo blue with a bit of alizarin crimson to get a purple-y blue, then added a hint of transparent orange iron oxide to grey it - and, with white, hit it right first time out! i was stoked!

(have i not heard the expression pride goeth before a fall? like, ever?!)

i happily painted in the blue, then added - with a q-tip! - a pure phthalo halo-like around the flower, figuring i'd decide how to finish it when i had the flower in. i also decided not to try doing any design in the background - too fussy.

and then i innocently created some initial pinks to start with, using the alizarin, cad red light (for its orange cast), and white. i also created a pale blue-white and pale purple (using ultramarine violet), for those blown out areas of the photo, which i really liked.

got about half-way through (the lighter side of the flower)

when i realized my pinks just were not cutting it. so i began dragging out most of my reds, mixing them with white, and trying them out. cad red, quinacridone red, and cad orange joined the fray - until i remembered quinacridone rose! ah! that was it!

this has made me more determined to do color charts. it is really frustrating not knowing what my colors can do. on the other hand (says she who likes to avoid anything that looks like work), as i paint more & more, i'll learn along the way!

i got the outside petals how i wanted them to look (going not for realism but for soft, fluffy, ice cream colors in pinks & oranges). i knew i wanted the paint to be layered, and thicker than i usually make it. i also wanted a softer stroke than the flat bristle brushes give, so i tried using - for the first time - my taklon filbert. ooohh! i liked it - soft & sensuous, it lays down a wonderful rich sinuous line of paint! it was also much easier to place layers of paint over earlier, wet layers, something i've been having trouble with using bristle brushes. the synthetics are lots cheaper than sable, but seem to be soft enough. since i don't use turpentine or any other chemicals when i paint, the brushes should last fairly well. (i say brushes plural, 'cause soon as i sell another painting, i'm gonna get more!)

once the main petals were done, i did the center. and wiped it out. five times. five. i either got it too light, too plain, overly structured, too dark . . . it just wouldn't work! that old familiar panic ("why am i doing this? i paint like a two year old!!") started taking over.

at some point after yet another wiping out (using q-tips galore), i re-drew the center back in with paint (alizarin), and started over.

i carefully laid in the shadowing, the shading & highlights on each little triangle, the pokey center - it looked like it belonged in a different dimension from the rest of the flower! i tried all sorts of brushes, and all sorts of shades for the tiny petals & shadows till my work table & palette were covered:
but it still didn't look right - what was i doing wrong?! (this is where the flailing of arms comes in!) i finally realized that i was over-thinking it - trying for more realism than the rest of the flower called for & forgetting (a) to lavish the paint on, as i had in the rest of the flower & (b) to have fun!!

i found a worn sable filbert among my inherited brushes, loaded it up - and swirled it onto the canvas! i just played with different pinks, and laid in the little dots in the very center with cad red light & cad orange. ah!!

it still looked too formal to me - so i roughed the tips of the petals, loosened the darker blue of the background - and then, taking my large soft fan brush, with just the very tips of the hairs dipped in paint, i swirled white over the surface, in places going counter to the flow of the pink paint. & i liked it!

whew! that was tough - and took much longer than previous 5x7's. but i do still like it (it looks better close-up, too - maybe because i used my reading glasses more than with other paintings!) - tho i still don't like pink!!

thanks for stopping by - take care till next time!



  1. Thanks for sharing all your steps. Don't you love mixing reds and pinks!

  2. i'm really learning a lot doing the painting challenges! and mixing colors - reds & oranges, oh yes! pinks? nope! (too many years of being a tomboy stuffed into pink clothes & pink painted rooms with pink toys & pink doll dresses, i guess!!) i had hoped doing this one would cure my pink-o-phobia, but alas, no . . . !

  3. i love seeing your photos, including your palette. Pink is a difficult color to work with. i remember changing a flower from pink to yellow. Terrible of me i know. But you managed very well, your flower is all soft and feathery. i may try something pink myself...Bye for now.

  4. thank you! i'm so glad people are enjoying seeing the process! i don't think i'll try anything pink again for a long time - wish i'd'a thought to change it to yellow, too!!


Thank you for your comments! (you can comment even if you don't have a blogger account!) i appreciate all feedback & i'll try to respond here asap!