Daffodils, OIl on Panel, 9.5 x 7 inches
Flowers are hard to paint.
Yellow flowers are particularly difficult.
It’s the shadows.
You see, especially on high chroma flowers, it’s often impossible to get high enough chroma in the shadows. In paint, we lose chroma quicky as we go down the value scale.
That’s especially true in yellows, becasue yellows reach their highest chroma right at the top of the value scale, about value 8 or above.
So when I was looking at these daffodils prior to painting them, I was thinking hard about what I could do.
I wanted to keep the beautiful, yellow, spring glow. I could only do that if I kept the chroma as high as possible.
There’s actually only one way to do that. Keep the values of the shadows high. Higher than they appear in life.
Which is fine, except for two things:
- It means the light and shadow are in a very narrow range of values. Imagine a value scale from 1 (black) to 9 (white). The light and shadow of these daffodils were within 6 to 8. It’s more difficult to model form cleanly in a narrow range.
- Everything changes: because the value relationships within a picture need to make sense. Changing the value relationships of the most important element, the flowers, means changing the value relationshps of everthing else to suit. It sounds easy, and actually it’s not too bad at first. The hard part is keeping it that way right through the painting process when your brain is shouting at you to make the shadows darker because that’s how they look.
That’s how I approached this painting, though. I’ve recorded the whole painting, with explanations of what I’m doing as I go along.
I’ll be releasing it (free) soon. Hopefully that will explain this more clearly, along with a few other things about my painting process.
Until then, here are a couple of shots of the painting in progress so you can see how I built it up:
In this first one, I’m just painting abstract shapes of light and shadow, painting the shadows of the daffodils lighter that they actually appear so that I can keep the chroma higher, keep the glow.
Notice also that I’ve put in my lightest light – the reflection on the glass bell jar. Everything else has to be a step below that for it to work as a reflected light.
In this second picture, I’ve started to refine the forms a little whilst keeping the value relatiosnships between light and shadow as they were at the start. This is the part I found particularly hard.
I’ve been trying to work out this link between value and chroma for a long time, and I think I finally did get it in this piece. I’m very excited now to start applying this more.
As aways, I’ll continue share what happens as I go along.
Best wishes and thanks for reading,
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