Kathy Anderson (How to Paint Flowers in the Studio) is no stranger to strong design. It’s a major factor in all of her floral paintings. This week in Fresh Off the Easel, Kathy shares her thoughts on her newest painting, Quince and Oriole. And you can see this painting in person at the invitational landscape show Landscape Today, opening September 6 in Indianapolis.
This painting was done from life from my quince bush, with one of the orioles “posing” and the other from an Internet image. I keep dead animals and birds in my freezer that meet untimely and natural ends (hitting windows, or my cats) that are in good condition. This enables me to move the bird around for the best point of interest. Using the branches of the shrub is an easy way to create a good design — note the diagonal, with a few branches going off to the right very purposely not on an exact parallel. On the left there are some branches placed vertically to create a sort of “fan.”
The blossoms are also carefully placed, alternating between some singles and some clusters of flowers. I put one small petal in the upper right so that corner wouldn’t be lost. Also, I made sure the petal was a little higher than the blossoms on the upper left. Not necessary to “fill in” all the background space — it’s nice to have a rest and some mystery — but there’s an indication of leaves with really close values. So the bottom line is the shrub was there for my inspiration, drawing, and light source, but I always have to pick out what I want for the design.
When you’re painting a subject like this with lots of greens, it’s really important to vary them. I always have two piles of lightly mixed greens on my palette to choose from and alter — one is Rembrandt viridian with a little Rembrandt cadmium yellow deep, and the other is viridian with cadmium yellow pale. To these I might add a little alizarin, or Rembrandt transparent oxide red or brown, maybe a little white, or anything else I think it might need. For a bluer green, try Rembrandt ultramarine deep and yellow ochre pale with a little white, or maybe viridian, cad lemon, a touch of red. The choices are endless, and doing color charts to experiment is a great exercise.
Quince and Oriole will be included in an invitational landscape show,Landscape Today, opening September 6 in Indianapolis.