Each Spring, the Cistus Ladanifer (rockrose, gumrose, labdanum) takes over the landscape of the Algarve with abundant white flowers. It is a rather invasive plant which overgrows all the abandoned farmland. But in Spring you forgive this plant that bad habit. It is so beautiful to see them in the morning sun, opening their flowers towards the sun and gently waving in the wind. April is the month with the most flowers and every year again I have to take photos of it. So why not paint them?
I did already an early one in 2018, which is sold.
So it was time to make new ones. This time I took another viewpoint, in full front of it.
And here the end result 90 x 60 cm on canvas (it is for sale):
I also did a smaller one on a 60 x 50 cm on canvas.
And this is number 2! (also for sale, 50 x 60 cm):
I enjoyed the painting process, I hope you will enjoy the end results! If you want to e-mail me, you can go to my contact-page.
It’s a long time ago that I wrote about my painting process. This time I wanted to give attention to the highlights and darks in a painting. A good amount of highlights and darks can give a dramatic effect on a painting. The old masters and especially Caravaggio, often used this technique to create more drama. And drama was an important thing in paintings and fresco’s when you imagine that paintings hung in areas where the light was not often good or the distance from the viewer to the painting was huge.
For this painting I used an Artists Canvas Laminated Board 280 gr measuring 40 x 50 cm.
I wanted a “painterly” and lasting effect. So I prepared the canvas board with one thin layer of a paper napkin (often consisting of 3 layers). This is glued to the canvas board with binder and then I brushed a layer of binder over it to make sure everything is properly glued. As a result, the creases naturaly arise.
The start of the painting
Starting point is a dark background because the light-dark effect immediately produces a considerable contrast. I often mix black with Phthalo Blue to get the right colour. Sometimes a dollop of Ultramarine Blue or Carmine Red is added because Phthalo Blue is a rather cool colour in my eyes.
I painted the whole canvas first with this dark colour. I decided that the light comes from the top left. It is time for the drawing now. Most of the time I use a coloured pencil for that. Lines are easy to remove, although most of the time, they do not disturb the painting. The drawing immediately indicates where the light and dark areas will be.
The first brush strokes
I have chosen a free approach in which I use strong strokes. I use a 2.5 cm wide brush with nylon bristles for the entire painting. You can handle it well in a size of 40 x 50 cm. This immediately gives you a good surface fill and the colours remain pure. I also filled in the face as much as possible with this brush because I don’t details in this phase. After this it was time to stop.
On the next day you see with fresh eyes what you did the day before. Now the adjustments follow. The trick is to leave the first quick brushstrokes as much as possible, to maintain its purity. That means that little lubrication is allowed. So every stroke or line, however subtle, must be in one go. I put the painting regularly away for a short time for a better assessment. Here I saw that I needed more warm colour in the face, so I putted some warm orange/red to it.
My pitfall is that when at some point I think: “It’s done!” And then later I still see all kinds of imperfections and sometimes spend days doing fine-tuning. I will have to learn to make 2 moments of this. A moment when the big work is done and the second moment after change all the things I see afterwards. I thought this one was ready.
But then the next day it all looked too pale to me. So I adjusted the colour of the blouse to green. As a result, now the face had too little colour. There too I had to fix it with some extra strokes of orange-red and then worked up the colour totaly by means of scumbling.
Scumbling refers to a painting technique which involves applying a thin layer of paint with a dry brush and a loose hand over an existing layer. Monet was a master of scumbling. His Hay stacks painting is a good example of this (left photo 1890-1891). Nice to mention that the same Hay stacks can still be seen in Morocco some 130 years later (right photo 2018) .
But now I am drifting too much! Maybe some other time a bit more about that holiday.
The next day I looked again to the painting and was still not satisfied. I made a drastical decision and overpainted a good part of the face.
I removed a part at the right of the face and the turban was made smaller. The face got far more colour and the eyes are painted open now. Here’s the end result of the Lady with Turban 2. I hope you will enjoy it!
It continues to itch. Drawing real bodies. So this week I have drawn and painted in a more classic way. I got it on the canvas rather quick, with a dark underpainting. But the composition was not satisfying for me.
Through this process I go more often. The painting doesn’t give a feeling, it doesn’t look yet. And then I remembered a quote that painting is mainly simplifying. Remove all that is not necessary. I don’t know any more who it was, but it could have been very well Picasso. He was a genius in simplifying.
Meanwhile I also started adding some color. But I was too careful with that. The dark areas remained much too dark and didn’t have a the right look and feel. Besides that it was also not “painterly” enough. It looked dull. The painting needed more life!
And then comes the most difficult moment. The moment you put a brush full of paint on it, you cannot go back and you have to continue on the chosen path. So swallow 3x while making the first stroke. I have also read that painting is mainly daring. It is really true. Daring to screw up something gives much more painting experience than continuing on a careful path.
And this has now become the end result. You can see it in my paintings page. I hope you’ll like it. Thea Booijink