Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Glorious Irises" (oil on canvas; 24" x 18") sold

"Glorious Irises"

"Purple Irises" (oil, 12" x 9")

"Purple Glory" (watercolor, 20" x 14")

Yup, you are right.  All three paintings above are based on the same photo reference.  I am guilty of copying myself.  "Purple Glory" came first, painted many years ago when I was a watercolorist.  It got an award, then got sold in another show.  Last year, I did a smaller version in oil--"Purple Irises"--and sold it on eBay.  A client of mine who saw it on my website wanted it blown up.  So I painted "Glorious Irises" for him.  What can I say?  Some compositions are so darn great that they deserve to be revisited several times.

Whenever I look at the image of "Purple Glory," I feel a pang and regret that I don't paint watercolors any more.  But the regret doesn't last long.  These days I find watercolors tedious.  One has to draw the composition very carefully with a pencil in fear of marring the paper. When glazing, one has to wait each time for the previous layer to dry completely.  Most importantly, one has to preserve the lights with absolute determination. 

When a watercolor painting works, it glows.  When it goes awry, there is not much one can do.  The medium tends to collect fanatical devotees who look at other mediums with a thinly-disguised contempt, because only the most disciplined artists can stick to it.  I have such friends.  (I hope they are not reading this blog entry; I still like them despite their stubbornness.)  I also have friends who had hit the wall and wandered to find other, I dare say, more fun, mediums. 

Despite what many people believe, oil paints can be transparent as well as opaque.  (Watercolors can be opaque too, but only up to a point.)  To me, the fun of painting in oil lies in playing with this dual characteristics of the oil medium, plus its tactile quality.  In "Glorious Irises," I didn't leave the dark background transparent, because I thought it might not stand up to the strong, sculptural presence of the back-lit irises.  Ordinarily, I play transparent areas against opaque ones, lathering thick globs of paints on highlights, highly-textured petals, and so on.  Oh, the glory of oil painting!

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