Some paintings emerge as surprises from a process that gives few obvious clues as to what the finished piece is going to look like. Some paintings, like Shawn’s still life today, take on a clear shape quite early in the process. The surprise for the observer in the second type of process is not “what is it going to be?”, but what nuances and refinements will the artist choose that will give the piece its special and personal look.
Shawn started by setting up her subject, a still life of seasonal local flowers. When she had created the right arrangement and lighting, and chosen the right angle to paint from, she used very thin applications of oil colors to establish background areas and the main form of her subject. The basic structure of her image took shape very quickly. After getting the main form and colors down, Shawn worked with pencil to draw outlines of details like petals on the daffodils. These pencil lines helped define shapes and separation of colors as she continued to work.
Although the subject in Shawn’s painting was easy to see very early in the process, it was her carefully placed brushstrokes that required time in order to give the appearance of depth and surface to each flower and the arrangement as a whole, as well as a sense of light on the flowers, fabric, glass and water.
An almost hidden surprise reveals itself in Shawn’s finished painting when viewed up close: words and phrases scratched into the paint convey thoughts and feelings about the subject and the day.
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