Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Peering," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artThis is one of the best things I've done to date. I am really happy with it. (I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but with most of my paintings I can see ways to improve them, or see that they need improving, but I'm not sure how.) This might look like just another floral, and it has its flaws, but to me there's a sense of physical weight and depth. Maybe presence? Naturally it almost painted itself. Like Tom Brown said in a workshop I attended, "I just held onto the other end of the brush."

How did I do it? Luck, I think. Well, that's not fair, really, given how hard I've been working, but sometimes things just come together. The interesting part for me is to look at what happened, so I can do it again (that's very important). After all, you consciously learn, then internalize:
  • The pitcher has a sense of heaviness to it. That comes from how thick the ceramic looks along the rim, as well as the fact that it's earthenware and people know how those feel.
  • The reflections on the lip and water edge add dimensionality. (That inner wall of the pitcher was the hardest thing to do.)
  • The flower shadow below the pitcher has a sense of sureness about it, coming from not fussing too much (a bad habit of mine). I must have gotten it pretty close to right in the first attempt. Also, the red underpainting shows through just enough. I did the shadow partly by cutting in , and I'm learning how powerful that is. And fun.
  • The daisy itself looks dimensional, partly because of the shadows. This yolk on this daisy stood out like a button, so it cast a wonderful shadow. A couple of other crossing petals cast shadows that add to the dimensionality. I've been experimenting with warm vs. cool shadows; these are warm and it works better, although I don't know why. But I just love the petal at 4:30. I guess I painted it in shadow, then did one stroke of white.
What else did I learn (or relearn)?
  • Sometimes an outline makes something look fuller. But you have to watch it a bit. A painting can look cartoonish in a good or bad way.
  • While I was working on this, I read somewhere that shadows should be full of color. I totally agree, and shadows were where I first started to add strange colors. But shadows also can have defined or fuzzy edges, and lighter or darker patches.
I'm not sure whether the blue reflected light works, but that's how it looked.

Anyway, I've done a couple more daisies since then, but not with as much luck.


  1. This really is great Connie and my favorite too. My 2 cents:
    I think the solidity and strength of this painting is from the fact that the colors are true (color truth?). The sense of reality and real light is from getting the color spots in the correct color(value,hue,chroma) relationship to each other. I think that's why this reads as if it's hit by the same light (within the same light envelope). That's what makes our eyes buy it. It's not overblended or overdrawn. The strokes are fresh and simple but the accuracy of the color relationships is where the reality is. :) Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff. Thanks for your 2 cents. I like that: "color truth." I think with this one I tried harder to slow down and make each stroke count. It's so easy to slip into automatic and stop really paying attention. After all, it's fun, and sometimes it works, so we do it again. But I need to work on that combination of presence and spontaneity that go into the zen of painting.

    And, BTW, I enjoy your blog. Very wide ranging and thoughtful.

    -- Connie

  3. Oh, that daisy just about knocked me out! FAB!

  4. I totally like the daisy. Still available? are you going to sell it? great works of art

  5. Oh, gosh, seattle painters (may I call you "seattle"? ;-) ). No, I haven't sold it, and I don't know if I can. At least not yet. But the fact that someone else would ask just made my day.

  6. Awesome paintings. Would you be interested in doing a reciprocal link exchange. I'm a fellow Daily Painter and my blog is:

    My email is:

  7. Hi Austin. Thanks for asking (me, I'm shy about these things). And it's done at my end. :)
    -- Connie