Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Design, Part 3

Work in progress
(still not done...) 18x24"
by Susan Roux

Color and value. Those magical tools that keep artists addicted. Make a color change or a value change and you can redirect the viewers eye instantly. How do you keep it all in control?

First of all, don't loose sight of your initial plan. Second, when it comes to color with respect to design, repeat it. Color has the ability to hop the eye from one place to another. To keep your viewer exploring the entire canvas, repeat colors and their eye will bounce around in rhythms.

If you don't get too caught up with local color and build your darks throughout your painting using the same colors, you'll establish a color harmony. Some people like to limit their palette to ensure harmony, but others like myself paint with a palette-full. Either way can work.

With harmony in mind, I worked the rosebush. I used shadow values. This allowed me to take my time establishing where I want sunlight to move across it.

Notice how color was added randomly at this stage. This keeps the eye interested and moving. Even in this close-up, where there isn't information to identify the subject, the eye dances around in varied movements. Had I chose to paint each blossom identically, the eye would quickly tire and the exploration would cease.

Next I began adding sunlight to the blossoms. I took my time, stepping back frequently, making sure to retain variety. So far so good.

It became trickier as I added sunlight to the greenery. The deep rich darks that added contrast to the blossoms were being lost. To bring the painting to completion, close attention to value is necessary. Adjustments need to be made. This is when being able to critique yourself becomes critical. You need to ask yourself, what's wrong and how do I fix it?

The answer isn't always easy to find. The eye will travel to the place of most contrast and the sharpest edge. Unfortunately, as I lost the high contrast around my blossoms, the spot of highest contrast and sharpness became my top window pane. Oh man, what a pain!

So here is my dilemma. I've purposefully kept my blossoms in loose edges to project their softness. Each time I would crisp one too much, I didn't like the stiff feeling it created. Now to keep with my initial idea of the roses being my focal point, I must figure out a way to retain the attention there. I do like the idea of the blossom reaching out to the window. It helps in the exploration of the canvas. As my eye goes to this window, it picks up on the tree shadow and swoops back down to catch the blossoms on the ground.

I thought I was posting a completed painting today, but as I review the many photos I took, its clear to me that my painting lost drama along the way. I've never photographed a series of my work in progress before. It's proving to be a very interesting tool. Also I'm finding that talking about my process is a good learning tool as well. I hope you'll follow along as I push myself for improvement...


  1. une belle progression! c'est à un coup de pinceau la finition! biz elfi

  2. Nous ne sommes pas toujours heureuse et satisfaite avec les résultats photographiques, mais pour examiner l'évolution d'un travail c'est très intéressant et rentable.
    Très jolie progression, tu peux être fière de toi ma chère Susan, toutes mes félicitations.
    Les petites abeilles peuvent venir butiner sur les roses de tes rosiers en toute quiétude. Elles embaument tout mon écran! et illuminent mes mirettes...

  3. Hello again! Happy New year! I look forward to seeing your progress:))

  4. Beautiful painting Susan, thank you for sharing your wonderful talent! Love the design and such beautiful harmony. Thanks so much for visiting my blog - I did seem to disappear there for a excuses, just in need of a break and setting some new goals for the New Year.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful work!

  5. The flowers are really beautiful. It's so difficult to create a mass of "individual" flowers and you have. Your commentary on your method is extremely helpful.

  6. Your painting is beautiful and I'm having so much fun following along as you work on it! Thank you for posting your work in progress and for sharing so much information about how you make the choices you do.

  7. it's thrilling to see this progress. each post feels finished to me, but as you work on it, it just gets more incredible! stunning work susan, just beautiful.

  8. Beautiful paintings, Susan! And, I bet you're a good teacher. I enjoyed the lesson. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  9. Love these progession series of photos. I learn so much from them and from your explanation. It's like a mini class! Happy New Year! xx Róisín

  10. It's so beautiful! Makes me long for summer and spring. Can't wait to see the finished product, but it looks like a brilliant painting right now.

  11. Everything I've ever looked at on your blog looks great to me, finished or not :-)

    God bless you Susan and have a great week :-)


  12. This literally took my breath away - it is stunning, Susan! I will be coming back to look at this again.

  13. I enjoyed reading the entire piece. I love the way the entire painting is done especially the flowers. They look to be swaying in gentle breeze.
    And you are probably correct in saying that the focus has moved to the window pane. But that also looks good. I am also waiting to see what you do to get the focus back to those lovely flowers. All the best and do write about it.

  14. I loved the journey through your painting series Susan. Lovely painting with an incredible sense of light. :)


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