Painting Flower Study #4: Yellow Rose

The challenge with this painting is the IYF factor…  In-Your-Face! When doing a still life that has only 1 item and that single object fills the entirety of the composition, well, it’s simply in your face the entire time! It’s inescapably large and the details just scream “paint me, dammit!”. Despite knowing that this was a moronic idea on a galactic scale, I grabbed a large Belgian beer and my brushes and got to work. 

In all seriousness, my original plan was to experiment with the rose and do a few pencil sketches and move on. After spending the better part of an hour scrolling through rose paintings on Pinterest, I started to get a few ideas on how to approach the painting, so I grabbed beer #2 and let the creative juices flow. 

The initial block in was frankly a big surprise in terms of how quickly it came together. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the best problem to have with a new painting is getting the block in done so well that you almost convince yourself to sign it and call it finished. As you can see from the photo below, things were off to a great start.

Yellow Rose Painting Block In

The value contrasts were key in Yellow Rose. I ran into an early problem with the color mixing whereby I kept getting a crap brown when I’d try to darken the cadmium yellow with violet. After some further experimentation, I realized the darker values should retain some of the violet hues, virtually devoid of yellow, which seems to have worked. 

The other lesson learned is that many of the petals have a pattern which includes a darker outline and a lighter center, even the curled tips of the flower. See the zoomed in picture of the petal below. If the center of this section of the petal wasn’t essentially encircled by a darker outline, it would look “off”. This can also be observed by the progress photo below, which is about when I realized something wasn’t right and took a closer look at the curled ends of the rose petals. 

Yellow Rose Petal Detail

The vast majority of the yellow hue is Yellow Lemon, but there are mixes of Cadmium Yellow Medium and variations of violet. The most important compositional element is the light source, clearly in the upper left corner, and the need to project light through the body of the rose petals just as effectively as its reflected off the tops. 

The remainder of the work was the classic painting dance, a little here, a little there, maybe wipe out a few mistakes, repeat. I stopped at the point that I was both excited about the outcome and comfortable with the techniques. I really enjoyed this study and will definitely do another IYF rose, probably on a panel so I can get more fine tuned detailing; it would also be interesting to use a palette knife instead of a brush. 

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