An Interior with a Flower: Final Painting (cropped and uncropped)

An interior with a flower (final, cropped width 60cm, acrylics on paper)

I seem to have this uncanny ability to make things appear very clinical and flat… I spent ages to try to “unflatten” my background (see below for a previous stage of the painting). By the way I think all these paintings for this assignment are the biggest I ever made (up to 60cm wide).

An interior with a flower (intermediary stage and flat like the earth before Columbus set sail)

I think the variation of colour and exaggeration of forms (e.g. painting a table cloth like it has some height) is quite crucial., then also some tiny marks that exaggerate the edges of things – both light and dark. The shape of the yellow table cloth was hanging/curved inwards before, increasing the effect that the table actually is a non-shape/a cardboard imposter of a table.

The low pouffe (green, left side, behind the table) was tricky and I am still not convinced about the green right corner and the whole thing. The contrast in reality was so mellow, or maybe I should have put my glasses on. Yeah, in hindsight perhaps that would have been a good idea.

And then the vase: Oh ye terrible thing! I must have painted it over some 15 times. And it was actually better in the intermediary stage. I really made all the effort and then painted it entirely dead. Like when you overwork plaster. I had to stop at this point as I really couldn’t see any more, but might come back to that in a couple of days.

I tried my current best to have the background painted in more various brush strokes with a lot of tiny colour nuance differences. (see window, wall of the final version etc.) That improved the background for sure.

The flowers: I think they are the best in the picture as they are less stiff and have some character as they are a bit messy. But are they very good shapes? Maybe I could have enhanced the contrast/tonal differences more? Looking at the photoshopped close-up of the flowers below, I guess I could.

More contrast for more solidity? This is a photoshopped version of my flowers: I increased the shadow on each of the flowers and indeed it does look more 3D

Last but not least I thought I put the entire picture in, because I painted it less narrow. I feel the more even rectangular shape looks better with my composition. Compare the original version below with the version that is cropped to more of a narrow rectangle above, which was requested in the task at hand. To me it didn’t really profit from cropping. I wonder if it might have turned out a more interesting picture, had I confined myself to the narrow rectangle and squeezed in the shapes I found interesting. I might have ended up with all the good bits on less space.

An interior with a flower (final, original uncropped, width 60cm, acrylics on paper)

Summary – What have I achieved:

Did you manage the apple painting better than the last painting?

I think my flower painting is far better than my cold and naked apple painting. I am thinking too much and feel too little. (I am so bad at multitasking.) I hope that wrong balance shifts at some point when I learnt how to paint better. I am struggling with colour and tone.

Do you like any of your paintings?

I like the idea of the apple painting with Monroe on the pin-board (think of the tempting woman – temptation/Adam & Eve, but she’s also quite distant and observant – opaque and a bit sad, as if sighing at all the stuff people projected onto her), but the execution has no feeling at all. The background is utterly flat. The apple looks almost hyper-realistic, and not in a good way. That is probably because I don’t like hyper-realism. Why trying to super-imitate nature? This seems like a completely stupid idea. But then I did, accidentally. I might go back to that one and do it again – this time with some feeling.

I think the flower painting is better. It at least has a wee bit of character and I managed to make it slightly less flat.

Do you feel they express something personal to you?

Yes to both. Apple: it’s my work desk wall that I am currently looking at in the morning. Flower: It’s one of my favourite flowers (ranunculus/buttercup) fetched down in the market for this project. And my great pottery teacher Chris Lo (Hong Kong, Cobo Ceramic Workshop) made the vase which is really superb in reality. Even more of a bummer that I just couldn’t get it right.

Have they tackled the problems set out in the projects?

Yes and no: Shape: I think that the light-dark-balance to convey a feeling of shape is getting there but the application to do so in an alive way is seriously lacking. The foreground colour saturation vs background low saturation is a bit too overemphasised and therefore looks artificial in the apple painting. It’s slightly more subtle in the flower painting. Perspective: Perhaps I haven’t thought about perspective very much during these exercises as I was too occupied with colours and tones. I feel perspective is a lesser issue for me than colour, but maybe I am wrong and will eat my words as soon as I am planning a cityscape or something like that.

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