Sketch in basic shapes of the iris and a few shadow shapes to remind me of where the light is coming from. Then paint in the background. This is where I am thinking of using the dark values of green and yellow ochre. I mix olive green and transparent red with a little black and ultra marine blue to start putting in the dark areas on the top mostly. I am not worried if I leave spaces between the paint strokes because I will use a soft brush and blend the whole area together. On the bottom half I use transparent red, yellow orchre, a little purple, and permanent rose. The background is painted smoothly with a soft brush. This gives me a good background to paint on later with stems, leaves, buds etc.
Now I draw my attention to the iris. I am painting from a reference photo. I decided to start with the top and work my way down mixing a variety of yellows, golds, and white. I mark the dark values first and then a few of the lightest areas. This way I get a feeling of form.
This is the step where I really start painting. I have premixed several of the values I see in the yellow petals. I have a sense of form to work with so now I start from the edge of the petal and paint to the center of the petal with beautiful brushstrokes and clean colors. I consider this the fun part! Not worrying about mistakes because with oil paint it is very easy to change things later. This is a great time to watch for beautiful nuggets of color. So if I see a nugget of lemon yellow color or pure cadmium yellow deep while painting the shadows, I just pop it in. Sometimes, I will have a couple of brushes going at once. One brush for dark values and one brush for light values.
Here is the yellow petal filled in. I know the whole thing will be evaluated later and probably changed several times but I do not want to continue on it until I get the bottom filled in. Everything in a painting relates to each other. It is nearly impossible to paint one part to 100 % finish without the other areas at least filled in.
This is also a great time for a break. Put a load of wash in, feed the dog, take out the trash, stretch, get a snack, etc. Nothing to stressful or requiring brain power, I save that for painting. It is amazing how many decisions you make when you create. I use to tell my students it is not unusual to feel your brain racing, it always happens when you are creating! If it isn't you're probably stuck and do not know what to do. That would be a good time to get advice.
Now that I have taken a small break, I cleaned my palette and premixed colors for the bottom half of the iris which is mostly warm purples with bits of gold on the edges and center.
I love mixing colors! When I taught art, I would mix almost as many different colors as students in the class. Of course the primary colors, secondary colors, white and black usually were repeated a couple of times. I would spend 30- 40 minutes mixing beautiful colors, it was always fun seeing the students eyes light up when they saw the choices they had.
Here I go marking the different color areas. Noticing the large color areas in the middle of the petal and the small fractured shapes around the edges to give it a ruffle affect. Just having fun trying to keep the colors clean.
I painted the bottom petals just like I did the top yellow ones: working from the edges to the center of each purple petal. Trying to make beautiful brushstrokes and keep the colors clean are my top priorities. While doing this step I notice the reflective lavender color in the gold petals. If I notice something I put it in right away so I don't have to try and remember it later.
I added some strong highlights to the yellow and call it a day. I need to walk away for a longer time to get a fresh look. So now would be a good time to take my dog Tuck for a walk.
Taking the dog for a walk!
Started working on the background. I used a Q tip to wipe some areas off where the buds will go.
When I finished the background I hated the white in the purple petals. It was too obnoxious. This is where I do not look at the photo much. I focus totally on the painting. What looks good for the painting is more important than having the painting look exactly like the photo. I will post the finished painting tomorrow.