Saturday, November 1, 2014

Black Swallowtail on Pink Flower

How long did that take?

I get this question a lot, and I've gotten it a lot with this painting especially.  Maybe that's because it's over-sized. (16"x 20")
I don't really count up the hours; it might be depressing to realize how much/little I charge per hour. :)

Let me think through the stages.

  • See a friend's photograph on Facebook and get permission to use it.
  • Choose a canvas size and draw it up. (I am NOT a draw-er and totally admit to cheating on this step.  I put the canvas on my whiteboard at school and show the image from my computer to draw in the main lines.)
  • 1st sitting - Paint in the dark spaces of the background then add the green shapes on top of that. Block in the black and pink areas.  (They basically look like blobs.)
  • 2nd sitting - Try to make the greens look like blades of grass and leaves. Add dark greens, light greens.  Make long graceful strokes.  Blend.  Fail miserably... Looks like a mess... Wonder if I've forgotten how to paint... Remind myself that every painting -not unlike every child- goes through an ugly stage. Give up.
  • 3rd sitting - Work on the butterfly.  Add buff to the black to create light, blue and orange to create life and reflection.  Layer on the yellows and oranges. It's a good start. Work on individual petals of the flower... without success.
  • 4th sitting - Determine to make the grass and leaves pop.  Get brave with more greens, use a bigger brush, blur the hard lines between the background and the main character of the painting. Touch up the butterfly. Give it some legs and antenna. Try again on the flower petals and flower center.  Lay in the yellow (same cad yellow from the butterfly) center.
  • 5th sitting - Background... looks good.  Butterfly... looks good. Flower... looks good. Painting... doesn't work... sigh... stand back... sigh... squint... deep breath.. okay... It looks like someone did a great background, cut out a great flower and butterfly then glued them onto the background.  There's no sense of harmony.  Sit down and get brave again.  Add black (which I rarely use straight) from the butterfly into the dark areas of the background.  Add red (alizarin) from the flower liberally into the darker edges of the leaves and grass blades and into the background.  Add green (from the grass) into the flower petals... which by the way was a disaster... Paint over the flower with straight alizarin and white covering the rose color completely... Almost there... but... remember purple! Purple is the most amazing superhero! How did I forget!  Add purple touches to the butterfly wings.  Add purple to the shaded parts of the flower.  Add purple to the shaded parts of the background. Sign my name in the bottom corner.
How long did that take you to paint that painting?  Probably around 10 hours. I'm faster than I used to be. :)

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