15-Paintings Challenge – Flowers: Yellow Tulips in a Vase, #3


Oh my I can see that this challenge might take me forever – there is a great deal of texture in this painting, but my photograph is about as bad as it gets.  Please bear with me on this one, for good or bad, it’s part of the 15-painting challenge so it’s being posted – I’m not excited about this painting .   .   .   but I’ll explain a bit later.

Yellow Tulips in a Vase, is an oil pastel (14×11) on a gessoed prepared hardboard.  I did an a very wet and runny watercolor underpainting for a little looser feel to the piece.  I used subjects from three different reference photographs and combined them in a way allowing all subjects to be touching – the tall vase and tulips are my favorite aspect of the piece, in person they are brilliant yellow full and the flowers/stems have lots of textures.

If I was to paint this scene over again I would take out the round blue vase and tulip laying on the table and use in some combination maybe marbles, cream or purple satin ribbon, or perhaps a brass clock.  The table top doesn’t appeal to me either.  This painting became too static and doesn’t grab me emotionally – what about you?  You won’t hurt my feelings ~

So why post something I’m not happy with, it’s my way of staying true and honest to the challenge and to let you see that sometimes a whole painting can fall apart.  Nothing to do except get back at it and start painting again ~ click onto the image for a larger view.

Yellow Tulips in a Vase with text DON’T TAKE MY IMAGES!! MY ART IS COPYRIGHTED.
PLEASE DON’T COPY OR USE MY IMAGE WITHOUT RECEIVING MY PERMISSION FIRST – SEE DISCLOSURE ON THE RIGHT PANEL.

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About Mary

Oil Pastelist
This entry was posted in Challenges: Subject Matter Studies, Flowers, OPs New Paintings. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to 15-Paintings Challenge – Flowers: Yellow Tulips in a Vase, #3

  1. I actually really like the aesthetics of it. Very beautiful

  2. Funnily enough the flower lying on the table is my favourite! It may be dead, but it has a bit of life. I’d find the oil pastels quite difficult to use particularly with that subject matter. I think layering the watercolours would be what I would use as it would add a bit more depth, particularly through the glass and water.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Mark for your comment, I really enjoyed your descriptive view and what part of the painting spoke to you. I’m very inexperienced with watercolors, but have seen a lot of other peoples work and your thoughts are great on the layering aspect to provide more depth with the glass/water. Thanks again – have a great week ahead.

  3. Susan Feniak says:

    Mary, I think you are being too hard on yourself too. I think this painting is lovely. That being said perhaps something other then another vase and single tulip would draw ones eye in better. Do enjoy the challenge as much as we enjoy seeing your results! And thank you for sharing the process. Hugs. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Susan, great to hear from you – welcome back. Thank you so much, loved your feedback and thoughts on this piece and I totally agree. While flowers aren’t the friendlies with oil pastels I’m feeling better about painting them and along the way I’m going to figure out how best to work the OPs and detail needed. Thank you, hope to see some of your new pieces soon ~

  4. Another beauty Mary! I really enjoy seeing all of these lovely flower paintings!~Rita

    • Mary says:

      Rita, you know how to make a girl feel good – flowers and oil pastels are a recipe for disaster. Plus it’s 80+ out today and the OPs are melting in my fingers – you should see my hands and clay shapers! Such a riot – by George I’ll learn something from this challenge! Thanks, you know I love your opinion and feedback ~ have a great rest of the week.

  5. Love your composition, Mary! A subtle but dynamic twist on such a still scene. Beautiful!

    • Mary says:

      Elena if you were here I’d hug you! Thank you so much, magic words for a struggling artist. Now way I’ll give up the challenge though – I’m bound to learn from this experience!

  6. To my eye, this is really beautiful, Mary, but I can also see it without the round blue vase and single tulip. 🙂

  7. I think it is beautiful! I agree with you on the small round vase with the tulip and think your idea about the marbles or other object would be the only thing I would do. Great job, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks very much Patrick for your thoughts and generous feedback. I think the majority are with you about the round vase and tulip – great input that I’ll keep in mind as I move forward in this challenge and future paintings. Really appreciate your encouragement – thanks!

  8. Don says:

    I think you’re too hard on yourself Mary. I really like it. 🙂

  9. poppytump says:

    Mary .. I love your yellow tulips ! … the shady filmy blues of the background and how they form the shape of the vase …. I like the idea of the tulip there in the foreground – and no other little vase – awaiting its final place in the arrangement 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Poppy, thank you so much. There is something magical about yellow tulips – resembles a sort of warmth rebirth of nature, yellow helps it burst forward. I like your description of the background and vase shape – thanks for noticing. Appreciate your opinion on the little round vase (needs to go). Okay, back to the drawing board and studio ~

  10. Yes, Miss Mary,
    this is an ambitious and challenging work
    but you can handle it..and handle it with style.

    uncle john

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Uncle John for your encouraging support and for always being present. Means a lot – going right back into the studio, stay tuned.

  11. M-R says:

    Tant pis pour toi – I like it ! [grin]
    I suppose it’s the “very wet and runny watercolor underpainting” that creates that almost impressionist look ? I may agree about taking out the other vase and contents; but I like the tabletop, too !
    Just goes to show: that’s what ya get for corresponding with artistic dummies ! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Ah M.R. and so how interesting you tell it like it is – that I love about you! Yes, the wet and runny watercolor does give the impressionist feel I was looking for AND then I went and painted tight (lol, I mean really?!). But I did maintain soft and hard edges, so it counts a little toward impressionist. Love getting everyone’s opinions, as it becomes valuable feedback that kind of plants seeds for future projects. No such thing as an artistic dummy – everyone has an opinion toward a piece of art, that comes from looking and reacting. No expertise needed to know whether you like something or you don’t – that’s what is so darn interesting about art, there is no right or wrong w/someone’s opinion.

      • M-R says:

        It’s just that I often think I’m being impertinent, Mary … after all, you know what you’re doing, while I am merely making a superficial comment.

  12. Gallivanta says:

    I like the deep blue of the small round vase. I actually prefer that vase to the bigger one. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Oh my goodness Gallivanta – this is why art is all in the eye of the beholder w/individual taste. How awesome is it that we can each look at a piece and all walk away with differing opinions of what works, what doesn’t, etc. How refreshing – life at its best! Thank you so much, I’m thinking of you – take care.

  13. My dear Mary, you are way to harsh on yourself, painting flowers it is challenging by itself but sometimes it’s not the hardest point, the arrangement plays a key role in a still life. I remember from my art school the teachers used to work for quite a long time on the arrangement before they let us sit and start painting. Many decisions where involved around the subject (ex: like flowers), size of vase, color or transparent vase, any other additional objects if, what kind, what shape, table cloth or not, draping for background or not and I could go on, but was a learning process for us to understand the importance of a composition.Textures, proportions, colors are one important aspect but in addition to that they had to consider the available light depending at what time the painting was to begin (believe me the same arrangement looks totally different in the morning, afternoon or in the evening). Over all a good balance needed to be reached around the subject to be able to provide us a perfect still life. Now, as far as your arrangement goes you combined three reference photos and that can be very tricky. It is so very different if you see in real life the arrangement, you can walk around it, study the composition and decide what stays what goes or what needs to be changed. You combined all that in your artistic mind, translated onto your canvass and when was done and you analyzed the results well you know what happened. Nevertheless it is not something unappealing, and as you said you can always start painting again keeping in mind what needs to be changed and that is the beauty of it all. We can always improve and the learning never ends but it is a most satisfying journey any artist can take down the path of art and expressing themselves throughout it! I love your honesty and your values, you’re a very special artist and I thoroughly enjoy each and every step you take in the art dimension! Your tulips are just super deliciously beautiful and I love them! Have a most wonderful evening! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Awesome Eva – your words weave into this post a step into a teaching artist studio and lets me see through those eyes the necessary ingredients for a still life, and bring an understanding of what aspects to consider even before painting. It’s these keys you refer too that I will seriously consider if after this challenge I decided to venture further into painting flower still life’s – they will become a priority in developing my understanding and knowledge. I do have a perfect spot for setting up still life arrangements to paint from (w/soft light, etc.) but, I’ve decided to hold off on going down this road unless I make a conscious decision to pursue floral still life’s. It’s a great challenge, that is going to have me tackling flower subjects that I’ve put off for a long time – yes, the journey is an exciting trip. Your generous and thoughtful feedback is more appreciated than you know, as all of it gets planted as seeds of growth – each time I paint the seeds are watered, it’s the bonus of seeing the harvest that will be my reward. Thank you Eva, you are a dear blogging friend – thinking about you, take care.

      • An extraordinary response from an extraordinary artist! Love how you move forwards your goals and take conscious decisions about it, a most disciplined mind but a playful one as well! You’re not afraid to go places and take on challenges, it is most wonderful to witness how you plant those seeds then harvest and reward us with a most beautiful, wonderful works of art! Thank you for always being so generous in each and every way! I highly treasure your kindness, thoughtfulness and friendship! Thinking of you as well! Have a most wonderful week my dearest Mary!

  14. Hi Mary. My initial reaction to this was I loved the bright yellow and immediately thought of Spring. Then, I went back after reading your comments. I think you’re right. The blue shape isn’t working. I think the vase is too high for the flowers. But, the piece did make my heart soar. Learning experiences are so frustrating. I really appreciate your posting this. It shows me that everyone has pieces that in some ways don’t work. That gives me hope in my own work.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Kerry, thank you for your thoughts and feedback. You are right about the height of the vase, the top of it needs to be backed down about 1/4″ to 1/2″ and fill out the leaves so they spill over more – bringing prominence to the arrangement. I’m glad you enjoyed the yellow – it is what attracted me to paint the scene, screaming Spring and warmth. Kerry, I have to keep my painting real – at least for me, so showing failures and successes is all a part of learning and experiencing the world of creativity. I love your work, it’s bold – vibrant – creative!! Keep on keeping on – thank you!

  15. Painting for Joy says:

    Every painting is definitely an adventure! I think I agree with you on your decision to not include the little vase. If you hold a finger over the image to cover the turned vase it becomes a stronger composition. Love the color palette!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Rhonda! Great suggestion, spot-on and it works to confirm what my gut was saying once I painted the blue vase in. I like aspects of the colors – subtle colors w/OPs is an area that I need more work on. Thanks very much!

      • Painting for Joy says:

        I think of painting as solving a puzzle….does this fit, does that work,etc. I’m almost finished with the piece I’m working on but have to solve a design issue first. It can be frustrating and leaves us to sometimes say, “why did I do that?” But for me it’s what keeps me “hooked” always chasing that “one masterpiece “. Loving your flower challenge Mary!!

  16. This is a very ambitious painting, Mary, with a lot going on. It may not be what you intended but it is still dramatic, and interesting. The thing I keep wanting is for the yellow tulips to be the star of the show, but they are upstaged by the large glass vase, and all that’s going on in the foreground. There’s a poem in my book called “Six Yellow Tulips”, that I wrote one spring after a long hard winter, and I keep wanting your tulips to be like that….” the yellowest, gladdest thing in the room.” Keep up your courage. You really are doing very well! ❤

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Cynthia so much. Wonderful feedback – ah yes, I read your poem about 4 weeks ago and perhaps it stayed in my mind. Wish my photograph came out better as you’d see how textured and thick the yellows were painted in – every time I thought I was done painting the tulips, they would nudge me to come back and add more paint. My favorite part of the painting. If I painted these tulips again I’d drop the arrangement down about 1/4″ from the top of the surface and lower the vase about 1/4″ to 1/2″ making the leaves much fuller, thus the flowers take on the role intended. I so agree with you about the foreground, this did not work – the round blue vase became a distraction. On to my next – will work toward three small floral paintings today so I can get back on track. Thanks Cynthia.

  17. I like the tulip laying on the table, Mary! I like the texture of the table too and, of course, the tulips! I appreciate what you wrote about the process though; I have written paragraphs that I decide don’t work in a story and hit the delete key.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much for your feedback and thoughts on the tulips and table! The tulips are my favorite part of this painting. Part of the challenge with oil pastels, is that they never dry like watercolors, acrylics, oils or soft pastels – whereas the artist can paint over what’s on the canvas. Tto change something in an oil pastel painting you have to scrape it out and if when scraping all the tooth gets filled in, then there is no deleting and usually the painting begins to fail because without teeth the OPs have nothing to grab onto – the new paint will blend in with the old making quick mud and the surface so slick that it’s like trying to paint on an oily surface, nothing take hold. The joys and challenges with OPs, discovery brings a whole lot of interesting avenues of creativity. Really enjoyed your comment!

  18. Heartafire says:

    wow, spectacular!

  19. Marick says:

    Hi Mary. I think I agree with you on the favourite aspect of this piece…I really love the yellow tulips and how they all look together with the leaves. For me, however, it isn’t necessarily the table that feels as though it were lacking something… in fact, I really like the soft brown of the table and the subtle little blue reflections you’ve added there — I find that very pleasing. It somehow makes the tulips appear a bit more delicate. When I look at it, I find that the inside of the vase as soon as the water starts is where something is “lacking”…. just because water is clear and the stems of the tulips just seem to disappear into it, even though they maybe should be as dark as the stems above. I don’t know flower composition, though. Perhaps this is what you’re supposed to do! This is just an observation from my incredibly untrained eye! Oh, and I like the slight angle of the one tulip lying flat on the table 🙂 This makes me long for June… and shorts! Cheers 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Marick, such generous feedback – thank you so much. Okay yesterday and today it’s in the 80’s here, shorts weather – your warmer days are coming! Great observation on the inside of the large vase and a very big error in my judgement – since the light is coming from the back of the vase, the leave values should have been dark all the way down this would have clearly indicated the front side was in shadows of the light. Really good observation and your eye doesn’t seem untrained to me, I should have caught it. That’s why it’s so great to get feedback on my paintings, it becomes a great experience of learning and seeing through others. Glad you enjoyed the tulips, they are my favorite part of the painting. Have a wonderful Wednesday!! Thanks again ~

  20. Two things really jump out at me in this painting and they’re both such weird details……first, the stems in the big vase….how they aren’t touching the bottom of the vase but are hanging there almost like you can see the “movement” of them within the water. Second, the smaller blue vase, I absolutely adore how you pulled off the green of the stem of that tulip showing back through the vase.

    • Mary says:

      Hi A! I do like your close examination – I enjoyed reading it. Interesting that you noticed the stems, actually the stems touch the bottom of the vase w/the light cream used, but as a viewer you can’t see it. This was done on purpose as I didn’t want to carry green lines of the stems to the end, keeping a bit looser in composition. Ah, so you noticed the green stem in the round vase – oh yes you are astute! That’s exactly what I did, the stem was painted in then scraped away leaving a slight shadow of green and left overnight to harden slightly. Then the blue vase was painted and smeared in. next light touches of green were added back to give the illusion of the stem inside the circular base of the vase. Thanks A!

  21. Simla Barki says:

    I like the table top very much. The colours are beautiful!

  22. Amy says:

    I like how you include the round blue vase. I think the blue color and shape of the round vase made the beautiful painting even more interesting. The combination of the oil pastel and watercolor is really special. Gorgeous yellow Tulips! Thank you so much for explaining the processes, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Amy, thank you so much. I don’t use watercolor as an underpainting so much, so it was a nice break and did add another interesting aspect to the piece. Ah the blue round vase, a secondary subject, has become the point of discussion – how funny. Glad you enjoyed it – I think the idea may have worked but it wasn’t worked out as well in the scene and became too prominent. Thanks again for your lovely feedback!

  23. I love it Mary. At first I didnt see the round vase or tulip laying on the table. I saw beautiful light colours of yellow and blue and then I read your explanation. I think you are very hard on yourself. I always admire your work and each piece is unique. Embrace and love every part of your work. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Karen for your generous thoughts and I really enjoyed reading how you viewed the painting. Thanks for the nudge I’m going right back at it. Means a lot, have a great day!

  24. macjam47 says:

    Beautiful painting.

  25. Ah, Mary, this is really really beautiful. 🙂

  26. Well, I think it’s beautiful, Mary!

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