Austin Oil Painter Val Rawlings: ‘Charly and a Vase of Tulips’

An Austin Oil Painter’s Granddaughter: Charly

degas-oil-painting-woman-vase-flowersThis oil painting started with a vase of noisy peach colored tulips that were shouting “Paint Me! Paint Me!”
A visit from my granddaughter Charly provided the perfect opportunity to reenact Edgar Degas’ A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers. Art critics have accused Degas of adding the woman as an afterthought. More likely it is an example of Degas’ aim to capture people in a realistic slice of life.

charlie-tulips-nailed-itOk, that was my aim too; I didn’t want an Olin Mills style pose. I wanted something more natural and suitable for an aspiring Austin oil painter. I got Charly behatted with a fluffy turquoise scarf. We set up the flowers on the table in my eclectic Austin oil painter’s studio and adjusted the lighting. I showed Charly our inspiration picture and sure enough — she sat down and nailed the pose!

charly-tulips-2But instead, I selected another photo of Charly looking “pensive”. It could have been titled “Grammy — how long do I have to sit here?” [Of course, she didn’t actually SIT for the portrait; I painted it from the photo.] Charly moved and worked the poses like a high paid fashion model! We had so much fun! i’m sure no other Austin oil painter has the advantage of such a photogenic and cooperative model!

Another change I made was the tulips — I preferred the way they looked a few days later when they ‘relaxed’ (see below).

My Austin Oil Painter Art Class

relaxed-tulips-photoI took all these photos to a painting class in June and did a block-in as one of my exercises. It received the blessing of my instructor, Robin Cheers. She said I was ready for the BIG version. So I returned to my Austin oil painter supply closet and pulled out the 24×36 canvas I had been saving for something special. This was it! I set to work blocking-in and getting the forms in the right places.

I could hardly wait to cover every bit of raw white canvas. Then I began trying to get the lines of the face exactly right, and continued defining the vase, stems, table and background. It felt really freeing to paint so large. It was wonderful not to get hung up on tiny details until the final stages. I really wanted to keep it loose, but kept adjusting the skin tones and it got tighter and tighter. Finally I had achieved a credible likeness of my darling; so I stepped away from the canvas. I spent two more days on the tulips and the background. At last I was satisfied. I think it will be fun to display this in my studio over the funky turquoise table with a vase of flowers on it!

Completed Oil Painting — 7/7/14 — Austin, TX


About Valerie Rawlings

Austin, Texas oil painter focusing on portraits, landscapes and still life paintings
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