20.4.16

Sunflower Diptych: Painting Steps in Oils

Preparing to paint the Sunflower Diptych

The Dutch/Flemish style of painting is my latest painting challenge to learn. Sunflowers give me a blast of happy yellow color, for my weary trek out of winter blues. Combining the need to learn another style of painting and the cheerful yellow/gold together, I now have the start of a Sunflower Diptych wet on my easel! I had managed to click off some photos at the end of the 2015 growing season, capturing the last days of my sunflowers which I had planned to paint.






Sunflower Diptych (TOP) Bee  12"x 12" oil on canvas  by Minaz Jantz
Sunflower Diptych (TOP) Bee
12"x 12" oil on canvas
by Minaz Jantz

Sunflower Diptych (BOTTOM)  Lady Bug & Caterpillar  12"x 12" oil on canvas  by Minaz Jantz
Sunflower Diptych (BOTTOM)
Lady Bug & Caterpillar
12"x 12" oil on canvas
by Minaz Jantz

Sunflowers in my garden.
Sunflowers in my garden.



Sunflower Diptych  CLOSE-Up of BEE & Hidden Heart by Minaz Jantz
Sunflower Diptych
CLOSE-Up of BEE & Hidden Heart
by Minaz Jantz
Sunflowers certainly are one of the happiest flowers, wildly blowing in the winds while serving up some tasty morsels for Mother 
Nature's critters. Who else loves this feisty flower but artist Van Gogh who is famous for painting SUNFLOWERS.  Read more about Van Gogh's sunflower paintings.


For my Sunflower Diptych, I wanted to work with oil paint, using the glazing technique where an underpainting is first applied then building each sequential layer by adding more translucent oil paint to depict light and chromatic subtleties. This style of painting reminds me of stained glass and uses transparent colored oils with an oil medium which I am using from Winsor & Newton called Liquin. It helps to smooth out brush strokes, thin the paint colors to get the glowing optical effect popular with Dutch/Flemish Still Life paintings. Read more here...

Years ago I came across a library book written by Jane Jones called, 'Classic Still Life Painting: A Contemporary Master Shows How to Achieve Master Effects Using Today's Art Material.'  and later purchased the book for my own copy. Jane really takes her time to explain and demonstrate giving up lots of tips in glazing techniques. She has the most excellent sets of instructional DVD's & offers for sale the special types of brushes to paint this style of painting. I have not been able to find these brushes offered for sale in any art stores. After I bought all her DVD's, I sat and watched every one of them over a week. I faithfully did follow through with her color mixing exercises that really helped me with more successful outcomes in mixing values & color temperatures after spending the time to do the exercises. Jane's artwork is modern, breathtaking and her colors vibrant. Check out Jane Jones art work here...


Getting Started 
with Sunflower Diptych:

My Thinking Sketch Book in Red
My Thinking Sketch Book in Red

 Sketch Book is a great place to warm up to painting ideas with thumbnail sketches and notes.
SketchBook is a great place to warm up to
 painting ideas with thumbnail sketches and notes.
My red sketchbook is my thinking book with notes, drawings, ideas and design possibilities using thumbnail sketches to plan out values, patterns, and design. The Sunflower diptych is created on two 12"x 12" square canvases which have the options to display vertically, or side by side or can be displayed on separate walls.

ALL Brushes, Mop and Wipe Out Tool from Jane Jones...to buy go here.
ALL Brushes, Mop and Wipe Out Tool 
from Jane Jones...
to buy go here.

My brushes where all purchased from Jane Jones and can say having the right tools is half the battle of any painting method. Her Wipe Out tool is in the above photograph with two size ends and will keep edges crisp and an easy way to remove the OPPS paint cleanly and quickly of the surface with no fuss.



Transparent Oil Paint Sample Palette for Sunflower Diptych
Transparent Oil Paint Sample Palette for Sunflower Diptych
My Palette for Sunflower Diptych

*Winsor & Newton Transparent yellow, 
*Winsor & Newton Indian Yellow, 
*Winsor & Newton Bright Red, 
*Holbein Alizarin Crimson, 
*Winsor & Newton   French Ultramarine, 
*Winsor & Newton Blue Green Shade, 
*Windsor & Newton Titanium White.

I have gotten myself into a good habit of mixing some paint samples first to discover what are the possibilities for the right color combinations and values needed for the selected painting I am about to create. With every oil painting, I intentionally select different palette combinations so I can grow in my experience with mixing paint. Read here for my previous oil painting. 

Shopping at a clearance center, I found a box of thick printing paper with one side that is shiny and the other matte called Tango Advantage (C1S Cover 8pt-112lb. 24 weight). Turns out I can oil paint directly onto the paper and use it for my sample oil palettes and even with the added Liquin medium mixed into the paint for an easier application, it does not soak through to the other side! I can let the sample palette dry then later I hole punch it and put it into my palette collection binder that I can reference in the future easily. Maybe one day I will have THE PERFECT MINAZ palette or maybe not but this sample mixing gives me time to warm up to the painting process before jumping right into it.

The paint palette I am using for the Sunflower Diptych is mostly Winsor & Newton brand paints and one is from Holbein:

The mixing medium is the Original Liquin by Winsor & Newton

Watch Video below 
about the various types of mixing mediums 
Winsor & Newton offers for painting in oils.






Sunflower Diptych TOP drawing for 12" x 12" canvas
Sunflower Diptych TOP drawing for 12" x 12" canvas

Getting out my big sketch pad, I carefully took my time to draw out the sunflowers to fit onto the 12" x 12" canvas using geometry for design guidelines and drawing in the values/shade areas. 

Drawing gives me time to sneak up on my subject. I like to take the time to find out about the subject I am painting so its not just a pretty painting at the end of it. I get to use math, study some history, mixing paint is a science and get some time in with the brain gym skills of problem-solving. ALL intentions and actions help to create every painting.



My studio PREVIEW of SUNFLOWER Diptych 4th glaze.
My studio PREVIEW of SUNFLOWER Diptych 4th glaze.
The TOP Sunflower is one BIG tall happy flower with a little bit of a bud sprouting out and big leaf curving down pointing to the bottom Sunflower diptych. The stem of this flower will also continue to the BOTTOM Sunflower & Bud canvas was joining the two vertically, will be showcasing 4 sunflowers in various stages of its growth. 

Sunflower Diptych BOTTOM drawing for 12" x 12" canvas
Sunflower Diptych BOTTOM drawing for 12" x 12" canvas

The BOTTOM of the diptych Sunflower also shows a bud about to fully open into a sunflower. I wanted to include my favorite Lady Bug too. When I photographed the sunflowers, this red beetle was chilling out on one of the petals so they too love the sunflower!

Drawing preparation for TOP Sunflower Diptych


Drawing preparation for BOTTOM Sunflower Diptych

Drawing from life is best but sometimes that is not possible so I worked from my memory and various photographs of my sunflowers, to draw with geometry guidelines to make out a design that works for two 12"x 12" square canvases.


Preparing the canvas surface with 2 stages of color mixing.
Preparing the canvas surface with 2 stages of color mixing.
Preparing the canvas, I coated them with white gesso for three coats, brushing in opposite directions each time giving light sand after each coat. This is to give more bite for the oil paint to stick. Usually this method of painting is done on a smoother surface like wood or fine linen but I had these regular cotton canvas 12" x 12" on my shelf waiting to have purpose! 

2-12" x 12" canvas, palette paper, oil paint, fan brush, Original Liquin, Ultramarine & Magenta oil paint and palette knife.
2-12" x 12" canvas, palette paper, oil paint, fan brush, Original Liquin, French Ultramarine & Magenta oil paint and palette knife.

Left canvas is the BOTTOM canvas and right canvas is the TOP canvas.  Same colors used put in opposite sequences for end results.
Left canvas is the BOTTOM canvas and right canvas is the TOP canvas.
Same colors used but in opposite sequences for different end results.

I could have painted both canvases the same but didn't want that so I used the same colors but in different sequences saying they are in the same family and go together. 

The BOTTOM canvas was covered in Magenta Permanent oil coat first mixed with Original Liquin which nicely stains into the fresh gesso surfaced canvas. Dried it thoroughly and for the last coat of oil paint, I use French Ultramarine blue fanned in opposite directions to the Magenta creating a weaved pattern enhancing the cotton canvas surface. 

The TOP canvas was covered with the French Ultramarine blue oil coat first mixed with Original Liquin, dried and then the Magenta oil was brushed over top for the last layer. Using a fan brush after each application of paint blended the surface while creating a weaved texture.


Trace drawing on prepared background.


After the oil paint was completely dry which takes a few days, I took the original sketchbook drawing and traced it onto a clear tracing paper as this helps keep the integrity of the original drawing and way easier to use clear tracing paper to line up the proper placement of drawing.

NEXT, I used white graphite transfer paper to trace out ONLY the FLOWER.  Later when drawing out the other parts of the flower, I found out that none of my grey or black transfer paper seemed to trace onto this shiny surface of the canvas. 

SO WHAT TO DO? I took some vine charcoal and rubbed it all over the back of my tracing paper, taping it onto the canvas to not have it move, then took a pencil and traced out the lines. Lifting the drawing carefully, I had some guidelines down but still had to hand draw over areas that didn't stick. I gather the Liquin had created a hard surface that makes it difficult for the transfers to work well so will have to look into better transfer techniques. 


Under paint with titanium white for the sunflower petals ONLY.
Under paint with titanium white for the sunflower petals ONLY.
 Going with Jane Jones method of underpainting, she likes to paint a blank white underpainting for the flower petals so there is a translucence to the color layering of future glazes. 

The following stages are all about the glazing method using the Original Liquin mixed in with dabs of translucent oil paint. It gives a shine to the paint and shows off layers of glazing colors and dries the paint faster.


Following is my step by step 
sequence of the glazing technique method. 

To view in a slide show format, 
click onto any image to start



FIRST Glazed layer 
for TOP & Bottom 
of Sunflower Diptych

First color glazed layer for TOP Sunflower

First glazed layer I start to cover up the stark white underpainting and get some shadows in by toning the yellow value with a mix of purple which tones down the saturation of the yellow mix. I put in the green leaves and stems with a mix of yellow and blue.


CLOSE UP First color glazed layer for TOP Sunflower


The glaze is put on with Liquin Original which gives the paint a translucent quality as you can see the white underpainting reflecting through the petals.



First color glazed layer for BOTTOM Sunflower

I start my glazing for the bottom diptych as the same as the top sunflower, using all the same mixes.



CLOSE UP First color glazed layer for BOTTOM Sunflower

The center of this flower is roughly suggested and will not get to the center or leaves for a few more stages cause I want to set up my flower petals right before taking on the other parts of the flowers.



CLOSE UP First color glazed layer for BOTTOM Sunflower




SECOND Glazed Layer
for TOP and Bottom 
of Sunflower Diptych


Second color glaze TOP Sunflower

I mix up Transparent Yellow and Indian Yellow mixed with Liquin Original medium to make a brilliant gold layer glaze brushed over the top of the last layer to start a glowing surface. I add some red mixed into the main mix to set up the center of the sunflower. I do not develop the leaves or stem yet.



CLOSEUP Second color glaze TOP Sunflower


Second color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

I start to develop more defined shadows and edges by adding in some purple to the Yellow Gold mix and only paint the flower petals for now.



CLOSE UP Second color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower



CLOSE UP Second color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

Third Glazed layer 
for TOP & Bottom
of Sunflower Diptych

Third color glaze TOP Sunflower

On the third glaze layer I bring back some lighter highlights by mixing in titanium white into my gold yellow mix as this will contrast with the darker shadows already created. 


CLOSE UP Third color glaze TOP Sunflower


The flower petals are starting to get a bit of glow and the white underpainting is still showing but will disappear with later glazing.


Third color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

Still adjusting my shadows and highlights and putting more Transparent Yellow into the glaze to bring out the sunlight touched petals.


CLOSE UP Third color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower



CLOSE UP Third color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

Fourth Glazed layer 
for TOP & Bottom
of Sunflower Diptych

Fourth color glaze TOP Sunflower

This layer adds a variety of light gold highlights and also darker shades into the shadows for a glow.


Fourth color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

Adjusting the shadows with the highlights letting each glaze dry before the next layer. Slow process but I am starting to like this method of painting.


CLOSE UP Fourth color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower



CLOSE UP Fourth color glaze BOTTOM Sunflower

FIFTH Glazed layer 
for TOP & Bottom
of Sunflower Diptych

Fifth color glaze TOP Sunflower

I adjust some more with the yellow petals and now adding a bit of Brilliant red to the gold mix. I also decide its time to develop the center of the flower building up texture.


CLOSE UP Fifth color glaze TOP Sunflower



 Fifth color glaze Bottom Sunflower

Adding the Brilliant red to the golden yellow mix is giving my flower petals POP and pleased with it so far.



 CLOSE-UP Fifth color glaze Bottom Sunflower




 CLOSE-UP Fifth color glaze Bottom Sunflower Bud


SIXTH Glazed layer 
for TOP & Bottom
of Sunflower Diptych




I layer over some of the very light yellow golds with a fresh mix of Transparent yellow and Indian Yellow to bring back the golden glow. I also mix a darker mix adding Brilliant Red and a touch of Alizarin Crimson. I make my dark black mixing reds and greens for the center flower and develop more details.







I decide its time to work on the leaves and stems. I mix my variety of greens with Ultramarine blue and the Blue Green shade with the two yellows for a variety of cool and warm greens. I also make some pinky reds for the stems.







The leaves came together very nicely and added shifts of gold to the edges as the leaves where turning to fall decay.


FINISHED!

Sunflower Diptych  with Pine Frame  made by Minaz Jantz
Sunflower Diptych
with Pine Frame
 made by Minaz Jantz
The paintings are finished and even made a pine frame from scratch...my very first frame! The family had gifted me some tools from LEE VALLEY so I can now cut my own wood to make my frames! The Sunflower Diptych is a gift for my sister Lori who will love to find a new spot in her home that is filled to the brim with various stages of my art making life. She can hang the diptych vertically or she can hang them separately. I am sure where ever they are to be hung, they will glow across the room!

When I photographed the sunflowers in my garden, they were covered in busy bugs doing their thing and thought to put them into the composition of the diptych to honor their greatness as they may be little but without them, the GREAT swaying sunflowers in my garden would likely not exist


Sunflower Diptych; TOP  The Bee Oil on 12" x 12" by Minaz Jantz
Sunflower Diptych; TOP
The Bee
Oil on 12" x 12"
by Minaz Jantz
What can I say about being disappointed about how our human ways have done nothing good for the planet earth and now we are killing bees by our bad farming methods and toxic lifestyles killing off Mother Natures busy bees who pollinate the beautiful planet Earth. 


Sunflower Diptych; Bottom  The Lady Bug & Monarch Caterpillar  by Minaz Jantz Oil on 12" x 12" canvas
Sunflower Diptych; Bottom 
The Lady Bug & Monarch Caterpillar 
by Minaz Jantz
Oil on 12" x 12" canvas
 Another bug on the endangered list is the Monarch Butterfly which lives its beauty in a short time of 4 to 6 weeks showcasing its glory while traveling great distances from Mexico to Canada. Read more here about the monarch butterfly and what you can do to help.

My all-time favorite bug is loaded with childhood memories of laying on the sand while thousands of ladybugs walked all over me busy doing something.  

Lucky Lady Bug Runners Oil on Board by Minaz Jantz
Lucky Lady Bug Runners
Oil on Board by Minaz Jantz
The Lady Bug is also my LUCKY BUG and even had a pair of runners that have long gone to shoe heaven. I painted them in a still life too and my sister Lori also shares my passion for Lady Bugs and also owns this painting too!

May life BUG you with all good intentions!
Minaz Jantz

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