Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Magnolia Tree Nest




















Magnolia Tree Nest

16x20in  oil on canvas   SOLD

The gallery told me that this painting could have sold several
times over. There is usually at least one painting with popular
appeal.  The nest is in my daughter's back yard and when I
first saw it the tree was dormant. We had no idea that it
would be so gorgeous a couple of weeks later.

Artist Note.

I thought I would share my process on this painting. It was quite difficult.
I hate anyone to think that I can produce paintings without any problems.
It is usually the middle of the painting where it becomes tough for me.
In this painting the dilemma became ...nest or flower in the focal area?
I did some sketches like I always do. Sorry the images are poor.













I decided to move the flowers so they would link to the nest.
I have never painted tulip magnolias before - especially in
a tree where it appears there are hundreds of them.
I had to place and group them so they would not
appear "spotty." In the shot below you can see my first attempt.
I had two areas which fought each other.
















then my second attempt...it got even worse.















(Another poor image for the color)
The flowers became too dominant, especially the open one.
I added green leaves and laughed when I stepped back and
saw the bright white flower. Off with its head! I scraped it down
and painted it again with better values. Remember - white in 
the shadows is a similar value to black in the light.
Then I painted a flower bud in front of it. This was an opportunity
for layering (depth) and better linkage of the different values around it.
The nest was still too separate so I thickened the tree branch
in the front of the nest, and added another branch from that one.
Then I made the buds open up a bit in front of the nest and
started to refine all the areas - especially the nest and the texture
of the tree. I did a lot of negative painting for the
background creating the thinner branches.
Hard work for the brain, but the pleasure of trying to solve the problems
is what brings me satisfaction and I forget the stage where I want to
put a razor blade through it. Speaking of that. Guess what? I do not know if
you remember the 48x36 (way back) I was having problems with?
It was the main reason I had to stop blogging for a while.
Well, I ended up putting the razor to it to stop me from
trying to save it. I will be showing that whole process in another post.

48 comments:

  1. Dear Julie - I can see why this painting could have sold over and over...it is beautiful...I am sorry you put a razor to the other but in watercolors I end up putting them in the woodburner when they fail (not all of them but some-sometimes one just has to do what one has to do). Your art is always so beautiful I can't imagine anything of yours being a failure. Thanks for sharing this because it makes me realize that even great artists have problems they encounter. Have a great day.

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    1. Good for you, Debbie.
      I had a friend who died
      unexpectedly and her family placed all her paintings including what I knew to be her rejects, up for sale and completely diluted the overall quality of her work. Good lesson for me.
      I sometimes pour left over house paint over them if they are on board.

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  2. Fascinating description of your process. Amazing what one sees when one backs up far enough or backs up and changes the lighting.
    You came to a beautiful resolve. There is the smallest tension about nest or flower. Love it. It makes me stay on the painting longer.
    I totally understand the razor process. My latest painting, Majestic, covers up another view of the same thing that I could not get to work to my satisfaction. So I turned it upside down and made a definite landscape painting that did work. Who knew?

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    1. Pleased you enjoyed seeing the steps. I think the vulnerable part of being an artist is our own anxiety about our work not being liked by our peers. I know it doesn't matter to me if someone I do not know does not like my work, but in the case of an artist or friend I respect then I know that I want them to at least to see some worth in what I do.

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    2. Truer words never spoken. Timely for me. thanks......

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  3. That one is wonderful. I have been meaning to paint Magnolia again, but it haven't happened yet. Thank you for sharing your progress both physical and though wise. I really feel I am lacking the thinking process. I go with my gut feeling and I am sure I am breaking a lot of rules.

    I think the final painting is the best, but there are parts or details in the two trials that I really like too. Too bad one can't merge them together..

    How many paintings did you have in your show?

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    1. Good for you Roger. I am a big believer in "no rules" but do go by some basic principles. A principle is different than a rule... as in "nothing in the center." Well forget that - I have seen that "rule" broken brilliantly. The "principle" of light is that it does not go round corners and I see that broken with dismay. Decorative art can be anything the artist wants it to be, but the realist has to follow the principles.
      I had 30 paintings.

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  4. I can see why this one was so popular. If I had only one shade of yellow to choose from in the whole world, it would be the warm yellow I see in the background of your painting. It's like the best comfort food ever straight from a warm oven on a chilly day. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

    It is not safe to play with razor blades Julie. :)

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    1. Congrats on such a wonderful interview, dear Lisa.I loved it.
      Some yellows are hard for me to take. I call this butter yellow and like Julia Child, I LOVE BUTTER!
      Funny about the razor blade. I LOL.

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  5. Congratulations on the sale of this breathtaking painting and the others that you sold! This is a wonderful painting and well worth all the preparation and thought that your put into it. And thank you so much for this very informative and thought provoking post.

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    1. You are great! - thanks for the support.
      That is a fascinating portrait you did of the author of The Shock of the New. You achieved so much volume and at the same time it is as loose and fresh as can be.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your process, Julie. It's somehow comforting to read the struggles of others and know I'm not the only one. It's a lovely painting and you were right to tone down the flowers for the nest interest.

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    1. Hi Diana - IO agree about it being comforting to hear of other artists struggles. I remember reading this remark, "When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling... But it happens very rarely; usually it's agony... I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It's the invisible enemy. (Richard Diebenkorn) I thought how wonderful to know an artist of his level struggled and it helped me a lot.
      Glad you think I handled the flowers the right way.

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  7. I'm not at all surprised that this painting Sold and that it could have Sold several times over, it is Wonderful. Nice to see your process.

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    1. Thanks Ann. I loved seeing Arlington Court on your blog. What a wonderful place to volunteer.

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  8. Gorgeous! I agree with Ann. It is not surprising this sold. It's beautiful. Your hard labor was not for naught.

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    1. Thanks so much. Your charcoal trees are great and I loved seeing how you hung your work.

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  9. This is SO beautiful, Julie! I love how you paint the nests...so realistic! and magnolia trees are beautiful..it's so sad that the flowers don't last that long! Wonderful work!!!!

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    1. Thank you Hilda. Glad you like this painting.

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  10. Julie, this is one of the most incredible pieces of art i have ever seen! no smoke! there isn't one thing about it that isn't captivating. most certainly it would sell several times over and i would be among the lucky collectors. completely and totally stunning!

    and thank you for sharing your process.

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    1. Oh boy - gonna print this comment out and frame it!!!!
      thanks and blessing, Suzanne.

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  11. In last months,I got to see how works my teacher of acrylics ... I was surprised by the great number of hours devoted to his work. Then I realized how carefully he study the composition,and also preparation of color,all require attention also after many many years of experience ... there are not automatism (maybe especially) for good painters.
    The nest in magnolias, is fascinating ... I understand that a lot of people would have gladly bought. It 's always nice and helpful for grow and improve ,follow a Master,as you, at work! Thank you,for sharing, dear Julie!

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    1. I am fascinated by the way you are painting under this master's teaching. There is a clarity of observation I find very appealing. You also sound as if you are enjoying it which is the most important thing. Dear Rita, I am so glad you found this post interesting.

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  12. I agree with the gallery, this is such a pleasant painting ,everything is so pretty and serene. And as always I really admire your humility .

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    1. Hi Jane, thank you. Your kitchen still life certainly has more color and life to it than this one.

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  13. Well you hit it just right! That was a tough one, but I love that you have shared your thinking process. It is beautiful and complex. I cannot wait to see what you couldn't resolve! Thank you again for your encouragement.

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    1. Oh boy - you are referring to the big one that got away. Yes - that is coming up but I dare not put in two struggles next to each other on my blog. Thank you for YOUR encouragement too.

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  14. Allow me to join the chorus....what a wonderful painting! thanks for showing the process. It is complex...but in no way overdone. You really did a wonderful job of making it interesting and so clear. It's such a fun painting to look at!

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    1. I value that you think it is not overdone. I struggled with that aspect, Celeste. The next post shows a completely different approach. Series are fun!

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  15. A truly stunner of a painting, Julie! I can see why the gallery said what it did. For me, the palette is just exquisite and gives me a sense of earlier times...Victorian era, maybe.

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    1. Maybe it is the close value harmony. The Victorians were masters of that. I sent a long reply to your post on my cell and was frustrated by it not being delivered and then poof - it disappeared.
      Anyway I do appreciate your visit and comment, Sherry.

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  16. You would never know that the struggle took place! What a lovely painting and a great subject. Magnolia trees are quite graceful aren't they and the added attraction of the bird's nest makes it extra special. And I guess problem solving is about 95% of the work isn't it? It wouldn't be much of a challenge otherwise and you could just phone in the results:)

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    1. I laughed at phoning in the results. Sometimes it would be nice if it could be that simple though. Trouble is - the more you know the harder it gets! I have enjoyed your images posted from your road trip.

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  17. What a pleasure to see your thinking process along with your painting process!! Thank you!!
    Even your struggles looked like successes to me. But that final version is magnificent.

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  18. I appreciate that, Dean. You are a good friend. I was thinking on the boxer painting - for viewers - no, not a guy with gloves - the four legged one. Your use of the warm colors really added to the feeling of love for that handsome heartbreaker!

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  19. Chiming in, too - getting to see your thought process along with the painting/decision making process is sooooo helpful. It is great encouragement for me to 'remember the problem solving efforts' involved in those works where we get stumped. I'm so knocked out by the evolution of this painting- it's gorgeous and I'm so happy you shared the 'behind the scenes' with us!

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    1. You encourage me, Roxanne, because I do not want to appear preachy with my explanations.
      Like your spring painting and your subtle landscape

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  20. The reds and yellows blending together are heavenly. Very nice work!

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    1. Thanks Susan. Heavenly is the emotion you capture in your photography.

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  21. This is stunning! And so informative for collectors and artists of all levels...you have to show up during all stages of a painting. They just don't happen as a copy of a photo. This one shows you were present! I'm going to share the post on MyArtTutot's Tips 'n Tricks page as an example for artists who just like to post a painting and run with no commentary.

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  22. That is a wonderful comment. Thank you Vicki.
    I enjoyed seeing your process on painting the baby

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  23. Just gorgeous Julie! I love those magnolias, plus a nest! Wonderful.

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    1. Thank you Sherry. I feel fortunate to have your cooment. Your paintings are really lovely.

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  24. We get a lot of yellow skies and the shadows they make are not as bold, but very cool. Only mentioning it because of your beautiful areas of warm and cool in your new painting.

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  25. So very beautiful and an unusual viewpoint which makes for a unique composition. The color is just as unique. Congratulations.

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  26. Wow! We have two such magnolias in our garden, with those tulip flowers. A third (Grande) one was damaged by the snow. But none with a bird's nest in and certainly none that looked as good as your painting. Really magically enchanting glorious painting!

    No wonder it sold (over and over).

    Is it oil or tempra? It has that clarity of the latter ... listen to me sounding like a painter (chuckle)!!

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  27. I love magnolias and this is stunning!! I love that you share your thought process and struggles...it's so helpful. Sometimes anxiety sets in when a painting I am working on looks like a bomb has hit it and more often than not it gets binned! I will think about your post next time it happens!!

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I love that you are taking the time to comment and thank you for it. I am sure other readers will enjoy them too. If you cannot comment through this format then email me at juliefordoliver@gmail.com
Cheers,
Julie