"Ladies' Day" - Oil - 16" x 20"
"I chose to paint this floral as set against cool light from the window. The old-fashioned tea pot suggested the title." --- SFG
This simple setup is the inspiration and point of departure for the upcoming painting. The longer I've painted, the more I am able to "feel" what the painting needs. Consequently, I can add items, either from my stock of still life objects or from my head, in response to how the painting develops. The ultimate purpose is to create balance in the painting.
The drawing, too, is simple and subject to correction as I go. You'll notice that I've already changed the location of the vertical parts of the window to divide the canvas in a more interesting way. If I don't have the perfectly proportioned canvas for the setup, this redesign trick makes it work. By pushing the flowers off the top edge, they serve as another division, as will the cast shadows that come forward intersect the bottom edge.
I want to make this a high-key painting, so when I put in the shadowed sides of the teapot, vase, and leaves, I made sure I was using a fairly light "dark". Notice that I started with what looks like a very cool color. A law of light states that if the light source is cool, the shadows will be warm in comparison. If this color choice turns out to be too cool, my corrections later will just make the colors vibrate more. They look so cool at this stage because the canvas is toned with a warm red.
Now, I've laid in the other medium darks of the flowers, peach, leaf, and window frame. I've already begun relating reds to reds, greens to greens, and "whites" to "whites". Of course, these whites are backlit, so I must choose a fairly dark color to represent them.
Besides adding the warm shadows in the foreground, I have started searching for the right value and temperature of the background. It was bright outside, but the slight overcast toned down the color temperature.
The tablecloth reflects a lot of cool light and is almost as light as the background. I am beginning to use warm tones to give dimension to the vase and teapot. Nothing in shadow can be as light as anything in light. Note that I'm keeping the shadows quite warm in comparison to the lighted part of the tablecloth.
After I had modeled the forms of the teapot and vase, I added flowers and petals to the table top to balance the action in the flower arrangement. Notice how the flower arrangement is subordinate to the teapot, whose form is much more developed. If I had expressed the flowers with too much vigor, they would have led the eye off the painting since they touch the top. Oops, I must go back and put a cast shadow under the flower on the left. It must be consistent with the lighting on the rest of the objects for me to succeed in adding something "out of my head".