The Pink Hat

“The Pink Hat” is a painting I’ve been wanting to do for months! A dear friend had been to Uganda, and this little girl’s picture was among the photos. Her innocence was so compelling. So was the hat. Interestingly, the most difficult part for me were the hands. The way the lighting fell on them, and basically removed the dark brown color, made for an interesting problem. How to place the light and not draw the eye there as the subject was really the face!

 

Women Waiting

I forgot to take a picture of the initial drawing. Frankly, I’m amazed I remember to take any pictures at all. I get so immersed in the paint that I forget where I am.

She looks a bit strange…however, I’m trying to locate the shapes and values. The lines had already suggested the movement or placement.

Women Waiting

Where are the darkest darks, the midtones, and the light?

Women Waiting

I’m still laying in the darks, and finding the placement of the facial features.

Women Waiting

She’s starting to take form, and I can lay in the hat, which I’ve been dying to do. I just love her expression!

The wonderful part of being a painter is that you can decide what you want to emphasize or not. What color should the background be? Green is the complement of pink…does that work?

Women Waiting

I love her outfit. Again, what shadows do I bring forward (with a reddish tone) or set back (with a cool blue or blue/black). You can create great tension with cool colors against warm, not just light against dark.

Women Waiting

I decided I wanted a Ugandan countryside behind this little Ugandan girl. It’s filled with greens, pinks and oranges.

Now I’m moving to the hands with the gown as the background.

Women Waiting

Her right hand was interesting in that there were so many colors, shapes, darks and lights.

Women Waiting

The left hand was a bear! Hands are so expressive. I remember my mom’s hands so well…she who couldn’t sew on a button, but spoke volumes with her hands. I wanted these hands to express a certain vulnerability. Only time will tell if I succeeded or not.

Here’s the final piece. I decided to go with the left hand connecting with the right but relaxed as she’s not thinking about her hands. This hand was rough as I stated before. You have to be careful where you want the eye to go. It will be drawn to the light, and the hand is not the subject but, hopefully, an added statement.

THANKS if you managed to get to the end of the blog! Please comment if you have things you’d like to know or if I’m not conveying my thoughts in a way that makes sense (which is highly probable..).

’til next time!

Sarah

Fall Blog 2015

"GREAT BLUE" At last I am finally painting! "Great Blue" (oil on canvas) has been a long time in the making. The piece below is the initial painting. I love the blues in that piece but I was more interested in achieving a more natural look. I've done few landscapes,...

SPRING 2015 IS HERE!

  I saw this spoon in a drawer of antique silverware belonging to my mother. I was struck by this particular one and its simple beauty. I loved the way the silver caught the colors that were nearby: the orange ruler and the aqua of a glass bird. They really...

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

I've not done very many paintings in oil, nor am I a still life painter, but I recently took a workshop with Chris Groves, a very talented, Charleston-based painter, and above is the result. Oils are messy! But I LOVE that you can change up, reposition, and...

May Blog

I painted this somewhat abstract painting, "Cautious" in response to seeing a photo of my aunt (taken somewhere around the mid-1930s) hiding in the back of a room peopled with mostly old women wearing assorted hats and solid shoes - perhaps, a garden club...

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

Still Life in Oil

Still Life in Oil

I’ve not done very many paintings in oil, nor am I a still life painter, but I recently took a workshop with Chris Groves, a very talented, Charleston-based painter, and above is the result.

Oils are messy! But I LOVE that you can change up, reposition, and recolor, which is much more difficult to do with watercolors. I love the transparency of watercolors, but I love the texture and freedom with oils. They each have their own beauty. My only obstacle yet is to find the medium with which I can create line, which is my first love. I’m pushing to find where I can create what’s on my heart with which medium with the greatest effect. I truly welcome comments, critical or otherwise!

The idea was to set up the still life in a box with a light aimed on the subject creating a dramatic effect of light and dark, a technique known as “chiaroscuro,” a method perfected by Rembrandt.

Still life set against cloth background

Still life set against cloth background

Here the still life is set up in a box using fabric and draped behind the vase and orange. The light is affixed on the left side of the box aimed at the vase and orange. The drama is set!

Laying in the ground

Laying in the ground

We first chose a color palette, from which I deviated enormously, so I didn’t include it. We next lay in a reddish/brown pigment on the canvas, and lifted paint with paper towels while it was still wet to create the values (from light to dark), and the composition.

Blocking in the colors

Blocking in the colors

Here I’m laying in blocks of color, and trying to figure out what I’m going to do with all that fabric on the left side of my painting. Where do I want the focal point to be? Am I creating contrasts using only lights and darks? I want to remember to use cools against warm (the orange against the vase) to create contrast. You also have to consider that, even if you like something about a painting, you might need to eliminate it as it adds nothing. I was attracted to the shadow to the right of the vase, but I had to tone it back as it was drawing the eye there rather than to the vase and the orange.

This is the workspace with the actual still life in the background

This is the workspace with the actual still life in the background

This picture shows my workspace with the still life in the distance.  This was only a three-day workshop (six hours/day), so you have to work relatively quickly.

Nearly Done

Nearly Done

Now it’s getting to the hard part – looking critically at the composition and contrasts. Am I creating enough light and dark? Is the background staying back or competing with the foreground? Is everything too much in the “middle ground?” How do I  make the vase sit on the fabric; are the shadows convincing? These and many others are questions that go repeatedly around in my mind. How much reflection should the orange create? This is where I make my own decisions, and am no longer looking at the still life. I want the warm of the orange in the fabric, although it’s really not there. How far do I push it? Is the brown in the background a warm brown or cool? The shadow in the fabric as it turns towards the floor needs to be warm in order to come forward in front of the blue vase.

Still Life in Oil

Still Life in Oil

This is the final piece! In the painting, the vase is more aqua but I need to invest in a better camera… I hope I’ve given you some indication of how difficult painting can really be. It’s a shortcut, for me, to brain implosion. I don’t do landscapes because there are so many decisions to make, so many colors, so many lines, so many blocks of shade and light. Perhaps, when I’m more adept, one day I’ll attempt one and succeed. This painting, however, was great fun, and I felt somewhat successful.
We’ve finally settled into our new home. My studio is presently in the dining room….I like that it’s next to the kitchen…
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE!

 

To Purchase any of my work, please phone 1-912-223-8674 or email me from my contact page. Thanks!