My inspiration for this study was a recent piece from Laurel Daniel called Blooming Hydrangeas. Laurel is an exceptional plein air painter in Austin, Texas, but she clearly has a wide array of skills that spills into still life.
This study is #2 in the flower series to hone my skills to the point that I can compose a large piece. The first post Flowers: A Poppy Wrestling Match lays out the initial terms and conditions of this latest challenge.
The reference photo isn’t very good in terms of lighting, but it works really well as a baseline for a virtual sea of hydrangeas. There were also some very tricky (for me) leafy green areas that required a lot of eye squinting and virtual massing of greens to get it right.
Technically speaking I wanted to figure out the brush and related strokes needed to replicate that pillowy look of this type of hydrangea. At first I started with a round #2 brush, but due to the very short strokes, it quickly looked to “dotty” so I pivoted to a #2 flat synthetic. That proved to be problematic because I couldn’t load up enough paint to mix the wet-into-wet properly. Final solution was a #2 flat bristle paired with frequent wiping of the brush after every couple of strokes.
The other technique that proved helpful was ensuring that the values of the base and edges of the hydrangeas were very dark so the layering effect of the field of flowers was apparent. Without that distinction it was going to look like a singular massive flower blanket. Yuk! Lastly, to give subtle differences between all these white flowers, I used variations of blue hues in the gray and white mixtures. It seems to have worked pretty well.
When you look at the completed study in the gallery below, step back a few feet to get the proper effect. Hopefully you get the feel of an expansive field of flowers!