Work In Progress: Hydrangea, Update 4

Work In Progress: Hydrangea Update 4

Developing the Shapes

In the last Update I described blocking in the shapes – darks, midtones and lights – without too much regard to any definition. It’s beneficial to see the big picture first, then gradually work toward greater definition. In this second pass I worked from darks to middle tones to lights again, but this time I began to develop the focal point to a greater degree. The same colors are used at this stage as in the previous. Color becomes more solid as more of the paper is covered. Shapes include the positive shapes of the flowers as well as the shadow shapes. The focus will be in the area of the lower floral mass. Here is where most of the detail will be concentrated. Moving further away from this center of interest, detail decreases.

Forms still appear more or less flat in this pass, as the subtle form shadows have not been added yet. That will come in the refinement stage.

IMG_2307 WIP Hydrangea Update 4

Work In Progress: Hydrangea, Update 3

Work In Progress: Hydrangea, Update 3

As in the last two paintings, completion of this painting will be done in a number of stages. The first three stages have already been accomplished – developing the composition, the tonal study and the color study. After transferring the drawing to the finish paper, the final four stages will be carried out to complete the painting. Those four stages are blocking in the shapes, developing the shapes, refining the shapes and final touches.

You’ll notice I describe progressing through the painting in terms of shapes – that’s what I have to keep in mind. Although this a floral painting – a painting of Hydrangea flowers, it is ultimately a painting of shapes – the arrangement of shapes of varying tones into a pleasing composition. For me, at least, it’s not always easy determining whether I have the best arrangement or a universally pleasing arrangement of shapes. I think it’s very subjective. What I’m comfortable with may not make you comfortable. But, that’s all we have. We put together shapes in varying configurations and of differing tonality according to generally accepted beliefs and choose the one that we feel best about – and hope that most others feel the same way. It’s a very personal journey.

Many pastel artists work their paintings from dark to mid tone to light, and that’s the way I worked this one. Working in this fashion can develop the three dimensionality of a shape – the mid tones are always in between the lights and darks, giving solidity to a form. However, another way of tackling a painting is to place the darks first, then the lights, then the mid tones. Establishing the two ends first allows you to develop the mid tones as needed to fit in. This way makes a lot of sense to me and I may try that in my next painting.

In this painting I placed in the darks first. For the first pass, or blocking in stage the shadow areas within the flowers established with CO 390. For the shadows with in the foliage I used a combination of CO 390 and PP 168. These colors seemed pretty close to what I observed when looking at Hydrangea flowers outside in my own garden. During this first pass I’m not using the darkest darks or lightest lights so that I can go darker or lighter if necessary to expand the range of tones. The dark blues somewhat frame the lighter shapes of the flowers.

IMG_2290 WIP Hydrangea Update 3

            The midtones came next . Here I used CO 440, 450 and PP 140 for the flowers and PP168 for the leaves.

  IMG_2305 WIP Hydrangea Update 3

            All the lighter areas of the flowers were layed in with CO 435. I didn’t go any lighter on the leaves at this point.

IMG_2306 WIP Hydrangea Update 3

            It wasn’t always easy but I tried to think in terms of large shapes when blocking in at this stage. Standing back away from the reference photos to eliminate details helped. I also squinted. At this stage I’m only interested in the most basic shapes and their tone in relation to one another. I had a tendency to start placing details, that’s why I had to consciously think only in terms large shapes, including only landmarks here and there to make it easier later to find things.


The next pass through will be development of the shapes.

Work In Progress: Hydrangea, Update 2

Work In Progress: Hydrangea Update 2

            From the thumbnail value and color sketches I developed the full size pencil drawing. After doing so, I went back to the sketch made from the combined photos and made some notes. The notes were my first thoughts and may or may not be fully followed as I go forward, but they’ll serve as a guide. The main focus will be on the lower flower mass. This is the area where the most detail will be concentrated. It is here that some of the sharpest edges and greatest contrasts will be found. I’ve constructed the composition so that the entrance point for the viewer’s eye will be on the branch at the bottom – not clearly visible on the sketch with the notes but easily seen on the full size drawing. The branch leads directly to the center of interest – the lower mass of flowers. The eye will then pass up and around the rest of the floral masses. The dark shadows of the flowers and foliage mass tend to frame the lighter floral masses. As the eye progress upward from the focus area it will encounter progressively less detailed floral masses, the lightest and least detailed are those three masses across the top.

 IMG_2291 WIP Hydrangea Update 2

            The full size drawing is not intended to be a fully detailed drawing but merely a guide to the floral masses. I indicated some landmarks – flowers and flower centers – to help me fill in the other features as I start the color work.

IMG_2289 WIP Hydrangea Update 2

            The painting will be 11” by 14” long and done in pastel pencil. The paper I chose was UArt sanded pastel paper, 500 grade. I like the sanded papers. I like the feel of the pastel going on and the fact that they can take a lot of pastel before they fill up.


Next, transfer the drawing and start the color process.

“Osprey” published in CP Treasures IV

I’m pleased to announce that one of my colored pencil paintings, “Osprey: Lovers Key, Florida” has been published and included in Ann Kullberg’s CP Treasures IV. I feel honored to be included in the company of some of the best colored pencil artists in the world. This is the second time a painting of mine has been included in CP Treasures. My painting of “Raine and Megan” was included in CP Treasures III.

            CP Treasures IV contains the creations of 120 colored pencil artists, picked from 827 submissions. It is just out and can be purchase online at Ann Kullberg’s website by going to http// If you are a colored pencil enthusiast and want inspiration, this book is a must have. I’ve seen the works that have been included and I found much to inspire me.

               Osprey Lovers Key Florida Art Walk


Work I Progress: Hydrangea

Work In Progress: Hydrangea

            One of my favorite shrubs is the Hydrangea. They are simply gorgeous from late spring through early summer and provide color here in Florida right after the Azaleas finish blooming. They, along with Camellias and Azaleas, provide for a long season of color in the deep south that starts in late September or early October, and doesn’t end until late June or early July. Hydrangeas were a mainstay in the gardens of the estate where I worked for thirty years and they still are in my home garden. My wife and I see them wherever we travel in the south. Hydrangea colors range from white to blue to pink and near red, and it’s possible to find a mix of blue and pink flowers on the same plant – and even a color we call “blurple” – a mix of blue and red in various degrees.

My next project, needless to say, is a Hydrangea. Although we have quite a few growing in our gardens, I found inspiration in two potted plants we had on display. Although both were hot pink, I decided, for the painting, to change the color to blue.

IMG_2267 WIP Hydrangea Update 1           IMG_2270 WIP Hydrangea Update 1


I took a number of photos of each plant from different vantage points and drew a rough sketch of the view I thought best.  When I completed the sketch I was unimpressed with the arrangement of light and dark masses.

IMG_2286 WIP Hydrangea Update 1

It was too static. As I looked through the images again, I was unable to find one that I really liked. The shapes of the floral masses weren’t interesting. They all presented a horizontally oriented grouping of light toned floral masses atop a dark mass of leaves. However, as I looked through the different images again, I was struck by two views that, when combined, presented an inverted “U”. If I combined the images, one of the arms of the “U” covered much of the dark foliage and, for me, the arrangement looked immediately better.

IMG_2286 WIP Hydrangea Update 1c

I decided to stick with this new arrangement and began to use it as a basis for a number of tonal studies. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a vignette or a full, border to border painting. After each tonal study I did a quick color study to see how the colors and masses fit together. All together, I did twelve tonal studies and seven color studies.

IMG_2286 WIP Hydrangea Update 1b    IMG_2288 WIP Hydrangea Update 1  IMG_2288 WIP Hydrangea Update 1c - Copy IMG_2288 WIP Hydrangea Update 1b - Copy

IMG_2288 WIP Hydrangea Update 1d   IMG_2287 WIP Hydrangea Update 1  IMG_2287 WIP Hydrangea Update 1e   IMG_2287 WIP Hydrangea Update 1c   IMG_2287 WIP Hydrangea Update 1bIMG_2287 WIP Hydrangea Update 1d






Here are the color studies:

IMG_2284 WIP Hydrangea Update 1b     IMG_2284 WIP Hydrangea Update 1d   IMG_2284 WIP Hydrangea Update 1c

IMG_2284 WIP Hydrangea Update 1e    IMG_2284 WIP Hydrangea Update 1    IMG_2285 WIP Hydrangea Update 1 IMG_2285 WIP Hydrangea Update 1b

After looking at all the tonal and color studies I was attracted to two of them – tonal study 3 (color study 2) and tonal study 7 (color study 7). The former was clean and simple, more botanical, while the latter was more complex and floral (if you can feel the difference). In the end I decided I would do a vignette, corresponding to tonal study 3 and color study 2 because I wanted to keep it more as a botanical painting. The background would be clean.

To be sure of my choice I did a quick but a bit more detailed pencil study of tonal study 3. I liked the composition and shapes and felt it would make a good painting.

Color study 7, with the dark background extending into and filling the upper right corner is also a promising composition and I may do that one at some future date.


I’ll start on the full size pencil drawing next.

Gallery Representation

Gallery Representation – a great opportunity requires some changes.

I’ve had to make some unexpected changes with regard to my art projects and the changes require that I postpone the Ruby Beach project. I recently made arrangements to display many of my paintings at a local gallery – a great arrangement – but continuing to display my work there means I will have to do more paintings depicting regional scenes or paintings with more general appeal, such a botanical or floral.

The gallery which will be displaying my work is Florida Artists Gallery, located at 8219 Orange Avenue, Floral City, just a block west of the traffic light in this small but quaint, historic city on the west coast of Florida in Citrus County. Floral City is but a stones throw from the big metropolises of Tampa and Orlando, and attracts many art lovers from those cities. The gallery houses the works of many very talented local artists who work in oils, watercolor, pastel, graphite and acrylic and is well worth a visit. There is even a café in the building, allowing you to dine at the same time. You can find more information about the gallery at

There are a great many areas of Florida, both natural and historic, that provide innumerable ideas for great paintings – the marshes of the northwest coast and St John’s River in the east, the Withlacoochee River (from which I received inspiration for Withlacoochee Flight”, the lakes and rivers of the central region, the beaches of the east and west coasts and the great expanses of the Everglades on the southern tip of the state. I’ll be looking at many of these areas for more inspiration.

So, I’ll be suspending the work on Ruby Beach (I’ll return to this painting in the future) but check back in the next few days for an update on a new painting – a floral.