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When my kids were young, I bought Bill Bennett's Book of Virtues. The first poem in it became the Rogers family poem:

'Tis a lesson you should heed
Try, try again;
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try again;
Then your courage should appear,
For, if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear;
Try, try again.
And so I'm reminded of that while I try to paint a close-up of a rose.

This attempt is better than my last attempt, but painting a flower is quite hard. I wish that I had Kris' gift for it.

Part of my ineptitude has an excuse in paint that dries too quickly. I'm getting better at blending acrylics (which I've compared before to painting with white-out), but it's the very close blends of soft edges that lose me. I think the solution is to go at it with high humidity (to keep the paint wet longer), smaller brushes and strokes in these areas, and to obtain a feel for the petals. Normally, I only worry about capturing the smear of color and I forget what I'm painting. But in the case of flowers, I think that's wrong. It's very important to remember the edges and the curve of each petal. It has to make sense, each line does. Kind of like running my finger over the rim of each fold and knowing it that way.

This was closer, but I want more yet of myself, and so I'll start over one more time. I'm still relatively new to painting, so I consider this education - and it's education not to be wasted by hurrying and trying to meet arbitrary deadlines and goals of volume. I want the most of myself. As my former and very misogynist manager Frank used to tell me: "Standards, bro. Standards."


Read the whole story of "Rose"
by Brett Rogers, 2/15/2006 12:59:49 AM


I actually paint flowers in much the same way as you... losing myself in the smudges of color and forgetting about the whole. I think that there are a couple of differences, though. I tend to be very tiny and precise in my smudges until the whole begins to take shape, then I blend where necessary. This is a feature of watercolor that I can't always get from acrylics (unless I water them down enough to get the precision I like). It's a characteristic of my style, to get super-close to the edges and yet not quite over them... and then the occasional lapse which causes a little area to bleed over, ends up looking like I meant for it to do that, and lends the carelessness that it needs.

Your style is more rough-edged, bigger, more courageous. If I were you, I'd quit worrying about what it's shaping up to look like. Just do it until it's done, and then take stock. You're giving up too soon, I think.

The other thing I'd recommend is color study... don't always just paint the color that's there. Put in some colors that aren't really there, in small amounts in bits and pieces. Optical color is more than what we're able to label; our eyes perceive with the subconscious as well as the conscious. An example of this in my own work would be the US flag that I've got on auction right now... look closely and you'll see green, yellow, purple, etc... those sorts of subtle things make a painting different from a photograph, and make them live and breathe.



Posted by Anonymous, 2/15/2006 8:59:22 AM

See...I like where the rose is going, which probably doesn't surprise you, since you aren't happy with it. It's what we do. :-) But here's my reasoning...I like...the abstract of it. Yes, it's a rose, but I want my eye to have to work for it while being pleased by the shapes and the colors.

And I think Bill (and Kris) would agree that "Don't give up" is just as important as "Try again".



Posted by Bella, 2/15/2006 10:44:48 AM

The thing is, I have a vision of what I want in my mind and I'm trying to get my hands and eyes to coordinate with that vision. So when I get down the path and discover that it's not what I wanted, I scratch that and start over, trying to figure out where I went wrong in my approach to come closer to what I see in my head.

Color study - I agree with you, Kris. My work on faces typically has a lot of color. I think that because I get a bit unsure and even a bit intimidated by a flower, though, I try to stay close to the script, so to speak. But I hear your point, and I'll try to loosen up.

And Bella, you crack me up. We don't always disagree (I say, disagreeing with you). I was diggin' where the rose was going too until it didn't go where I wanted it to go. But I hear your point - again, I think it's the flower thing.

That's it - I'll go out tonight and have it out with a rose and teach it that I'm bigger than it is. Then I won't be so nervous about it.

But seriously, I've already resketched the picture and I'm much more confident already. And I swear - I'll actually finish this one!



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 2/15/2006 6:42:46 PM

It's interesting that you speak of being intimidated by flowers... because I'm completely nonplussed, even overwhelmed at times, by faces. I wonder why that is?

Anyway, I *totally* understand the notion of not beating a dead horse. If it's not going where I want it to go, I stop... even if it's "not that bad" or whatever. You get an idea of what you want, and what happens isn't matching up with that, so you quit wasting your time.

I've got a closeup of a baby that I've begun and stopped. It's still lying around, though, and I get people commenting on it -- "Oh wow, that's cool!" and stuff like that -- and yet it's not satisfying me, so I'm probably going to start over. I wonder if I'll ever be able to get it? I can't help having my doubts.



Posted by Anonymous, 2/16/2006 8:56:29 AM

I think every artist has some subject about which they are unsure. I mean, if you think about it, every stickfigure artist (as all of us were at one time) has to overcome some mental barrier to draw more elaborately. Learning the technique that delivers the result we want gives us that confidence. For me, I think the difference was drawing out the lines of the individual petals. I won't be able to post this painting until Friday, which is when I'll finish it, but my confidence is already bolstered.

I need to swing by and take a look at your baby painting...



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 2/16/2006 9:13:49 AM

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