Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Learning & Growing--Magnolia Floral Painting

After several posts about cooking, which I call my other art form, I have another painting to show you. Since childhood, I have been nurtured by the beauty and variety of natural scenes. So landscapes, many with some water in view, are my first love in painting, and creating them is deeply satisfying to me. However, I  also paint florals and enjoy the different challenges they pose as a change of pace.
The magnolia painting shown here, which is a 9" X 12" acrylic piece on canvas board, evolved over a period of time. The vaguely Asian arrangement of the branch, buds, open blossom, and leaves emerged early in my sketching and changed little. Similarly, the splotchy purple background came early. Other aspects of the piece required more thought--and even some serious wrestling and reworking.
In general, I prefer creamy, buttery whites to purer cool whites. So my first blossoms reflected that preference--and simply looked wrong. Although hints of butter tones remain, I adjusted most of the whites to crisper, cooler tones, touched with blues, purples, and hints of pink. The improvement was dramatic (in my opinion). The open blossom and bud really "popped" and acquired more depth; the yellow ochre tones in the magnolia's center gained drama with the increased contrast; and the entire piece gained a new glow. 
The other aspect that required considerable reworking was the "lay" of the lower and side petals of the open blossom. Since I had taken most of my reference photos looking down at magnolias on low branches of a neighbor's tree, I had to modify their size, shape and angles for my intended side view. I often encounter challenges like this in adapting photo information because I am continually snapping photos for possible painting subjects or details without knowing how I might use them in a future painting. Unfortunately, I put the partially completed piece away for awhile while I completed some larger landscapes. As a result, magnolias were no longer flowering here in North Florida as I struggled to correct the perspective. If I could have studied real blooms, my task would have been simpler. Oddly, I couldn't even find artificial magnolia blossoms to purchase out of season, or posing them could have helped.
I am pleased with the result of my reworking and hope you enjoy seeing this painting. Working on an occasional floral refreshes me to return to landscape painting with new energy. And all painting efforts--including wildly unsuccessful ones--provide valuable growth in my skills, vision, and insight.
Question of the day: What creative endeavor enriches your days and gives you pleasure, even when the creative process is difficult--or perhaps at times, precisely because it is difficult?


  1. What a BEAUTIFUL painting!!! Great post too. I can imagine how difficult it would be to find the right perpective at a later time. I can snap a photo outside and decide to snap it again the next day and nature has already changed. That's why I snap several of the same shot now. It's harder in the photo album but I have tons of back ups. :D I am always looking for the exact right angle too.

    You are very talented and I can see a kindred spirit through your love for nature.

    Sooooo happy you posted on my blog and that you know lovely Sadia too. :D

    Hugs, JJ

  2. Mary it is a striking painting ! The subtle and delicate purple background brings out the magnolias very nicely.
    As for your question painting is my passion both conventional and digital ; and though on and off I face a struggle yet the feeling of fulfillment it brings in the end is very satisfying.
    I read JJ's comment too, she is a very warm person who brightens up the day !

  3. JJ, Thank you for stopping in and for your thoughts. Your nature photos are so lovely, it is clear that you give a lot of thought to perspective and framing.

    Sadia, thank you for weighing in on the creative struggle. Whether they come through struggle or through a time of easier creative flow, your art works are amazing.

  4. Gr8 work Mary! Your work is very different..

  5. Megha, It's super to hear from you--thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment. I truly value the perspective of other artists.

  6. Hi Mary!
    I wanted to stop by your blog after your kind comments and visit to mine. Thank you.

    Wow, you have a great blog and one I must follow. Your work is lovely. I also enjoy your writing style, it's informative and conveys your creative process very well.

    To answer your question on this post, music is one of those things that helps me (and gives me lots of pleasure/relaxation) in my creative endeavors, even when I'm feeling stymied. I too take lots of photographs of potential subject matters for my work, or I just snatch some of my favorites that my husband has taken of landscapes, trees, flowers. I find once I start sketching, the ideas start to flow...even if it's just simple doodles. I had a design teacher once that had us go through the exercise of drawing large circles, lines, free form...just to loosen things up. It helps.

    Happy to get to know you and keep up with your posts.

  7. Thank you, Kathleen for the helpful warm-up sketching suggestions--I will definitely try that. You have lots of company (including me) in turning to music for relaxation and inspiration.

    I'm grateful you stopped in; I certainly enjoyed visiting your wonderful blog and will plan to come again. Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement regarding both my blog and my art.