Sunday, December 4, 2016

Big Blooms

This painting is my first attempt at painting a vase of flowers as inspired by Lynn Whipple's Big Bold Bloom Wild Painting class. I've been eyeballing this class ever since it debuted but it cost a bit more than I could afford. So I decided to save up all the donations to my tip jar and proceeds from online purchases of my art. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Gretchen, Ryusho, Stacey, Mareen, Loulou, Lou Anne and Ellie! These sweet and generous souls made it possible for me to take this class and I've had so much fun!

I'm very, very selective about the online classes I take; I want to be challenged and I want to learn techniques that are open to my own interpretation. Big Bold Blooms interested me for a number of reasons. Lynn Whipple seemed a fountain of joy and enthusiasm in her promo video and I was not disappointed after signing up. The videos make me smile; Lynn is absolutely irrepressible and her happiness is contagious. Secondly, I really liked the idea of painting in a looser, more impressionistic style. That's just about the polar opposite of how I usually work but as my Parkinson's progresses, I've found that I want to start exploring less precise techniques and materials. In addition, I was intrigued by the subject matter: I've done a few flower pieces over the years (most notably in the Scraps journal) but flowers aren't a regular part of my artistic lexicon. The class also meant exploring a new-to-me medium - chalk pastels - so I knew the materials and subject matter would challenge me.
This first painting has some issues. It is still very tight and a bit too realistic. It will take time and practice to relax on the canvas. I also chose a too-small canvas and the composition is simply too crowded. However, I was surprised to find that I actually loved working with pastels. I've avoided them in the past because of the dust and need for fixative spray. Those aspects of pastels still annoy me but I think the effects you can achieve with pastels are worth that annoyance.

Lynn uses huge, extravagant arrangements as her subject matter in the class videos (which I can't afford) so I went to my local florist and handpicked a few hardy blooms in a variety of shapes and colors. Most of the flowers lasted about three weeks with diligent water changes so I had a lot of time to get familiar with my chosen flowers. It was more difficult to paint a lush, overflowing scene but I found I could make it work. Photographic images helped fill in the gaps.

Georgia O'Keefe said "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment." I found this to be completely true. It was easy to get lost in the petals, stamens, leaves, colors, shapes, and scents of my bouquet. Time and worries slipped away. I will most definitely be exploring blooms more regularly from this moment forward.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, Michelle! I am so glad you are able to take this class - and the initial results are wonderful. It takes some courage to reach beyond the comfort zone, but you, of course, have tons of courage. I hope you'll be able to do more and more of this as you go into your "quiet period" after your surgery.
-Ellie

DianeH said...

Love the floral painting! I have to force myself to do something other than flowers so I understand some of your discomfort, but your work is lovely. Keep up with it and enjoy your quiet time. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Loulou in Texas said...

Your enthusiasm for this new class is spilling out all over the page. How great that you are squeezing this fun course into your already busy schedule! You're off to a great start with your colorful flower painting, and I'm so glad that you are enjoying the whole process.
Best wishes!

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