Aunt Linda is my father's sister, and I was very happy to create this watercolor of English roses for her. I had painted a similar picture for my parents' dining room years ago:
Linda was a fan of that painting and told Mom and Dad that she would love for me to paint something like it for her. My pleasure! Linda had some specific parameters: she wanted all or most of the roses to be a dark pink, she had a certain green that she wanted me to match somewhere in the painting, and she wanted the flowers to be part of an interior scene. While I prefer painting close-ups of flowers with no real context like these...
...I didn't have a problem adding other background items for my aunt's painting. Since I am all about painting books, I asked Linda for the titles of some of her favorite books. She mentioned a childhood favorite:
There was a book I read every year in grade school called Jonica's Island. We got a sticker on a chart for every book we read, and our library was very small. Since I loved the book, it was a no-brainer to read it over and over. It was about a Dutch girl who had a derelict father; she became an indentured servant to a wealthy Dutch family and ended up marrying Garrett, one of the sons. I WAS Jonica every time I read the book.
Thankfully the book had a unique title, and I was able to find it online in seconds. I dropped a corner of the book into the painting. I didn't want the book to overshadow the flowers, but I tried to leave enough so that Linda would recognize the book and could have a nice story to tell her friends if they asked about it.
On a technical note, this painting ate up what was left of my purple and green paint. I was trained never to use black paint--all of my darks are the result of color mixing. The painting is large (21"x29") and the dark shadows, which are a mixture of purple and green, required up to four thick coats.
Here are some in-progress photos of the painting as I worked on it over twelve painting sessions.
Above is an iPhone photo of my first day's work. The largest flower is about the size of my fist. Linda changed her mind about her all-pink request when she saw my reference photo. I love painting white and light-colored flowers because they reflect the colors of everything nearby, so I was glad when she eased up on this. The dark red of the background rose is loaded with alizarine crimson (I named my blog after this color because it is one of my favorites, it's frequently the color of my lips, and it was my profile name on Match.com, where I met Jeff).
Above: day two. I started to fall in love with the undulating shapes and color changes. The central white rose was difficult to nail down, and I spent hours laboring over its red-yellow-blue palette. I wasn't sure if it was any good until I looked at it from a distance. The roses began to remind me of pink and white buffaloes rumbling across my paper.
After several more days, I had added part of the background and the glass vase. The little blobs and reflections on the sides and bottom of the vase were particularly fun. Occasionally I experience color exhaustion in a painting (the reds, greens, and mauves became tedious with this one after a while), and it's a relief to paint totally different colors.
And here's the finished product again.
On a semi-related note: in case you missed it, about a month ago I began selling giclee prints of a couple of my most popular small paintings, Burano Glass and Poppies.
Giclee prints are professionally printed, exact digital duplicates of my paintings--same size, same colors, same paper--for a fraction of the price of the original painting. Here's an idea: why not give your valentine a glass of wine that will never run out or flowers that will never wilt? You can find them at my art website, here. Or hit me up for a commission: I'd love to paint your English roses, peonies, poppies, daisies, bluebells...you name it!