I can't remember anymore how long this painting was a "work in progress," or how many times I was tempted to scrap the project due to to the fact that some of the changes I tried made it worse instead of better. Works in progress are supposed to progress, aren't they? This one definitely gave me trouble.
Probably one issue with the painting was that I used someone else's photo. A friend (thank you, David Young) who is known for his breathtaking photos of people from around the world, sent me a packet of varied photos several years ago. I was inspired to try to paint this iris from one of his photos with a few adaptations to fit my own vision for the image.
Although I am quite pleased with the final result, I felt hampered along the way by the fact that I had not seen, touched, and smelled the flower myself. A wiser artist than I was would have at least sought out live purple irises somewhere to observe, sketch, and photograph. I will do that in the future. I know some artists can create excellent paintings strictly from photos of places, people, or natural things they have never seen in person. I am humbled by their skill. For me, I have learned that nothing can replace being there. In addition to various technical problems I had to iron out for this painting, it was difficult for me to bring the blossom alive on canvas--we had never actually met. The result--and sort of a solution--was to paint an image that is more stylized than natural.
Venturing outside my comfort zone can be a thrill. But when an effort to do or to learn something new seems too unpleasant or too hard, I try to remember this painting experience. Of course, some attempts fail. No shame there, I believe--the shame would be avoiding the new for fear of failure. But in the thick of any difficult struggle with a new venture, I recall the BATTLE OF THE IRIS and persevere. After all, I think this image turned out all right. In any case, I learned and grew as a person and as an artist from this project.
Question of the day: Have you battled any irises lately? What growth or learning resulted?