16x20", oil on linen. Available. $2400
This Hong Kong Orchid caught my eye, but how to simplify? My approach to a subject like this or one that has a lot of visual debris, is to ask myself, "How can I tell the truth, but not the whole truth?" To that end, what do I include and what do I leave out to best communicate the essence of the scene.
I started with a warm tone all around to harmonized the painting. Then I massed in the leaf shapes with dark, transparent color along with some drawing (in paint) to lay the groundwork for the design of the painting. The tree had much more foliage than I painted, but I used what I was looking at to inform my painting rather than dictate exact placement.
Moving on to the flowers, I used the "Rule of Thirds" to place my "main squeeze" orchid at the cross section of the lower and right third. I further emphasized that orchid with a few sharp edges and more thoughtful detail than the other flowers, especially those flowers on the edges of the painting.
My original plan was to paint the blue sky as I saw it, but I liked the way the tone was reading so well that I switched gears and formalized the tone with thick paint. I also employed the high-brow technique called "don't make stupid shapes, Suzie!" as I worked around the piece. I designed the negative sky shapes to move your eye around the painting.