Friday, January 20, 2012

WAY Out of My Comfort Zone

Posted by Maggie

I love flowers. In the summer, I have containers and hanging baskets of flowers all over the patio, and there are rosebushes and hollyhocks, wisteria and trumpet vines. I take pictures of flowers when traveling, and never miss a chance to visit a botanic garden.

But I almost never paint them, at least not up close. I've done a few pastel paintings where flowers were incorporated, but I've never painted a vase of flowers. Until now.

One of the other instructors who teaches at the New Mexico Art League, Cynthia Rowland, paints wonderful flowers (and portraits, but I'm not going there yet!) in oils. Yesterday, she gave me a long lesson. I spent the day working on my painting, and could hardly sleep last night because I was eager to get back to it. Of course, since I had to wait for the sun to shine again, as I was using only natural light, it was pretty silly to lie awake thinking about it. But I was excited about the first day's work and looking forward to the next.

While painting in oils is not unfamiliar, changing both the subject and the medium was a push. It was just what I wanted, though, in order to break out of my normal patterns of painting.

Painting flowers from life had its challenges—when I went back to the studio this morning, one of the sunflowers had wilted and could not be coaxed back into position, so I had to revise the composition. I'm used to revising compositions in pastel, and was pleasantly surprised that I could make major changes in oil almost as easily. Next time, I'll remember to take a photo of my set-up in case I have a similar problem.

It's not perfect—I see quite a few things I'd like to change or would do differently if I started over—but in general, I'm very happy with my first attempt at a painting of flowers in oils. I can hardly wait until I can go buy more flowers and try another arrangement.

Sunflowers in Blue Vase, 14x11, oil, ©Maggie Price.


  1. Maggie - - /wow! thats exactly what I am doing---but not flowers. Using Oils to paint a large one of person, dog, and horse! I don't paint in oils - -don't paint people, and wnated to do this to push on and to learn. Flowers are next - - I always fail with them. Your painting, tho, is looking good! they say pastels is the closest thing to oils, and in appearence can be - - -but boy, the feel of oil is so different! I still don't know if I like them or not. but the experiance is priceless.

  2. I was just going into the studio to try out some new oils. I have never painted with oils only with watercolors and pastels. I think you did a great job especially for your first ever!! not sure yet what i'm painting and it will most likely be from a photo i've taken either landscape or floral. People now that would be way too much of a stretch!

  3. I started as an oil painter many years ago, but have worked almost exclusively in pastel for nearly 20 years. It's been like learning a new medium to go back to oils. Until this painting, I only painted landscapes in oil. So this was a huge stretch. I love the feel of the oils and in many ways the process is much like pastel. I'm going to continue to work back and forth between the two and it will be interesting to see what happens.

  4. Hi Maggie, It's very refreshing to see your lovely flowers in OIL!
    Especially coincidental, because last night I painted fruit in oil
    from life, but with the aid of a photograph that I hurried to get developed yesterday. Of course, I can't let go of the Pastels, as I
    used them to draw into the oil. Next I'll add the wax medium to the oil, maybe throw in some oil sticks and might "torch" it a little!
    This all comes from a desire to try this method that I witnessed with a fellow painter in Provincetown, MA this summer...he was generous to "show me"! So, good luck and I see you're having as much fun as I am.."out of the box"!!

    1. That sounds fascinating, Marcia! Hope to see the finished painting at some point. What fun is to try new things!