Stopping to Smell

Stopping to Smell… 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I took the photo seven or eight years ago. I was struck by it. I liked the naturalness of the pose the light, and of course loved the wildflower she held. In the reference image, she sat in a brightly sunlit grassy field of yellow and gold. Her jacket was turquoise. The content and composition was calming but overall the reference image was too bright and the jacket, though pretty, the turquoise was too distracting. I decided to see if I could make the reference image work as a painting. I sketched an outline of the face and jacket. instead of a sunlit yellow/gold field I painted the background a solid brown/black and the jacket a light gray green. I painted her face overall a golden brown. I now had a subdued block-in of shapes and colors I could work with. I then painted jacket details and a a few details in the background to reflect a grassy environment. Finally, I painted her face and the bright cool toned highlights, finally adding the little wildflower she held to her nose. Now, many years after the photo was taken this memory will remain alive in a form I can enjoy.

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