Monday, December 14, 2009

Waterlily Painting

Value sketch

The leaf of this waterlily was a problem child, as far as this painting goes. It is flat. Very flat. Maybe a slight upturn along the edge in a few places, but not a lot of different textures, values, or interest to be had on the leaf. It wasn't even considerate enough to sit a tiny bit above the water so as to cast a shadow or reflection. It made a lovely photo at the time, and if you are Monet, it probably would have made for a lovely painting, but as a painting reference I found this specimen decidedly dull.

Dull waterlily painting

So after much grousing and grumbling, I decided to throw caution to the wind and invent a reflection and some more shadows on the damn thing. I don't like doing this. I am comfortably co-dependent with my reference photos and straying from their photographic reality gives me gray hairs. In fact, in the sketching stage of this painting I had an argument with myself; half of me wanted it to look exactly like the lily in the photo, down to the last petal and the other half said "So I missed one or two petals - no one will know." (...except now all of you do. Keep it to yourselves, please). And since the number of petals ended up not being exactly the number my specimen had, a little made-up reflection in the painting could hardly hurt at this stage. Right?

Watercolor of waterlily. Now with more lilypad bling.


Murr Brewster said...

I'm reading this after spending a day with the exact same quandary about a lily pad; I needed to frill it up, put in shadows, gave up on the reflection altogether. I so identify with this. And I'm always afraid that I'll finally get my flower right and then someone will point out that that genus NEVER has that particular number of petals. And I hate getting it wrong, because I think that's important.

I think that's why I like writing humor so much. You don't have to do the research. Just use hyperbole and go for broke.

Gabrielle said...

Murr, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. That's so cool that you were working on a lily pad too! Is your problematic lily pad in connection with your amphibian work or...? Best of luck with it. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has angst over getting the details just right.

Krista Meister said...

Gabrielle, I so identify with your brain thoughts: realistically slavish to detail, or let it go and be more creative. I do like your "after" image of the lily pad leaf.