Peony Buds

Peony Bud Bouquet in Decorative Pitcher – Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

A couple weeks ago a friend gave me a large beautiful bouquet of peonies from her garden. There were pink peonies with a light yellow centers and even larger white ruffly peonies. I began photographing them right away. I knew I would select a reference image from them one day, when I wanted a very complex and difficult image to paint. I continued to photograph the peonies as the petals wilted and the bouquet grew smaller. The pink flowers with yellow centers wilted first, days later, the white ruffly ones lost their petals. Thereafter, only white buds remained until one of the buds, began to unfold as a small flower. The buds and young flower were originally white but I wanted a different look and feel hence painted them pink and lavender colors and added the small decorative pitcher.

The peonies have all faded now – until they come again next spring. I am happy I captured the many stages of their life in photographic files, in addition to these two oil paintings as memories.

The painting below reflects the last of the larger white peonies and some of the remaining buds. (The pink flowers with yellow centers are not represented in these paintings).

Peony Flower with Buds Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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Study of John Singer Sargent Portrait of a Capri Girl

Study – Sargent “Portrait of a Capri Girl” 1878 – 9×12 Oil Painting

It’s difficult to even find this image on the internet because it’s such an early work painted by Sargent and no doubt it’s not one of his most popular paintings. However, I found it at some point in the past and saved it to a collection of his portraits I keep on my computer as possible references. She was one of his very first models. I have created another study of the other from his set of two paintings of the Capri Girl. It is nearly 16×20 and I enjoy it on my wall. At a point I just quit working on this one and decided that “near enough” was good enough”. After all, it was intended as a study, not a copy, and I felt I’d derived sufficient benefit from the process. I wasn’t sure what that was in this instance, but it’s always useful to attempt Sargent’s brushstrokes. I think, I’ll next attempt a still life. I have some new references. Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred

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Beads in her Hair

Beads in Her Hair 9×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

My painting this week was influenced a little by the Rembrandt study I posted last week, though the beads in her hair give it a pop of modernity. I like it. I enjoy the portrait look of the Old Masters which continues to influence many modern painters. The poses, the lighting, and even the expressions have a certain look. The reference image for this p ainting was a young girl about 10 years old, wearing a very colorful sundress sitting in a swing on a playground in bright sun. This is why she is lit from above. I subdued the lighting atop of her head to keep the focus on her face. I also subdued her expression, making it a little more serious. I wanted to add a pop of color and decided on turquoise which is a nice compliment to the gold and orange colors on her face. So far, I haven’t wanted to change the painting but I make no promises.

The painting is showing up in this post a bit darker than I see it but I know it will vary on every device anyway. There’s nothing I can do about that. Enjoy your day. Winifred

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Third Time Around

Kazakhstan Girl with Necklace, Version 3, 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

This painting has had quite a journey. I think I am finally satisfied with the painting above. It’s rather refined, something I’m comfortable with.This time I added a lace shawl and a more refined necklace patterned after one of my mom’s broaches. Painting the lace and the jewels was a new experience. It’s a matter of making just the right brush marks and using the colors reflected by the light. I found it interesting and rather effective.

Do you recall the progression of the previous versions? See both below. First (the gold) a loosely painted version (photo a bit distorted) which I over painted because of my insecurity paint about loose paintings. I regret that. Below that, I made changes attempting a tighter painting,which I didn’t care for. This led to today’s third version.

I am currently working on a Rembrandt copy. It’s very interesting to do do. It’s not really a copy but but an exercise using Rembrandt’s painting as the reference.

Kazakhstan Girl Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred Whitfield

Kazakhstan Girl – Version Two 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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When More is Not Better

Kazakhstan Girl – Version Two 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

This past week, I set out to improve upon the more loosely and unfinished painting I posted last week – the one below. I decided I could improve upon its loose and unfinished look – something I’m still trying to develop a greater appreciation for. I took it back to the easel. I spent hours and hours this week, making the painting “more correct” and more traditional. WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN! Finally today, I photographed the latest version of the painting and looked at the two versions side by side. Yes, the latest version is “more correct and more finished” but it’s energy and freshness is lost lost. I definitely prefer the version below. No one would care about a paintings correctness. They do care about color, energy and freshness. I’ll miss that painting. I’ve never painted a portrait in quite the style as the first version before – and now it’s gone. This was a good lesson for me. Previous painting is below for a quick comparison. What a difference. Happy Spring! Winifred

Kazakhstan Girl Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred Whitfield

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Kazakhstan Girl

Kazakhstan Girl Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred Whitfield

She was a high school senior when this reference photo was taken. It was more than 15 years ago. I had the opportunity to know the entire family and their many challenges as they attempted to integrate into this society and with no mom – who was dead. I found it interesting that this family came from the same country, Kazakhstan, as the actor/director/comedian Borat. Remember him? … a very funny guy. In creating this painting, I had some success in not over smoothing, not over blending and making some interesting brush marks from time to time.

Initially I attempted a floral painting. It’s so complicated that I put it down to paint this portrait. I think that’s funny. It was the chrysanthemums in the arrangement I couldn’t master, they have such a complex petal structure – but I’ll keep trying. Bye for now. Have a great week! Winifred

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Total Cuteness!

Baby Barn Swallows in my Barn 12×9 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

It was 2010 or earlier, I think, I took this photo. I watched these baby swallows grow to bigger little swallows and then fly away. Other than very messy, it was wonderful to watch their mom flying back and forth to feed them. They were insatiable. This is yet another of those digital files I knew I had to paint – they are so adorable. I had to develop the confidence that I could paint soft feathers and a bird nest. It’s not too bad! I also loved the fact that there is a “stand out” little swallow which posed itself to create the perfect focal point. I couldn’t have planned it better. Have a great weekend. Winifred

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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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Mara’s Daughter

Mara’s Daughter 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I can usually come up with a title which I consider relevant or at least okay, sometimes even clever – but not today. This painting is not quite finished. When thoroughly dry, I will sand it in some areas and make more to my liking. The problem I struggle with – as you know, is that I spent so many years smoothing and blending skin digitally, that anything less than smooth is difficult for me accept as good work. It’s interesting that the whole Impressionist movement was a rebellion against the artist training in the European academies requirement for the mastery of smooth blended skin in paintings – in fact smooth blended everything. I was just born in the wrong century.

So, this is it for today. I am now going to paint grapes perhaps grapes and tangerines. I have no propensity to smooth fruit! Hope all is well. Winifred

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Ballerina – 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

She’s a lovely ballerina – and I’m sure this painting will be appreciated. There were, however, many challenges in creating this painting. The reference image was photographed using a wide angle setting with a phone camera. That introduced substantial distortion and error in perspective. It was difficult to use as a painting reference. It’s pretty easy to correct perspective distortion in buildings but not so much in a posed ballerina with curves. I know because I tried.

In the reference photo, the ballerina wore black posed in front of very colorful and boldly graphic wall. It looked like a fun “Senior Photo”. The lighting was flat. I wanted something softer and wanted to introduce energy and movement. As always, as soon as I get a little distance from the painting, a few more changes will likely be made. This is my first attempt to paint a ballerina – I’m sure not the last. Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred

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