Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crape Myrtles revisited, aka Zombie Painting

original, 18" x 11", oil on canvas
There's something I don't quite love about this painting. On the one hand I am/was super thrilled with the way the crape myrtle itself turned out — all that lovely red bark. And I really like the elegant, misty trees in the background.

It's been hanging in my living room for a few months, and finally it struck me that there's just too much white in it. It looks chalky. I know some painters rarely use white, and now I begin to see why. In the 16 months since I painted this, I've come to rely on it less and less. Mostly I use white in shadows now, which may seem a little contradictory, but sometimes I like the way it looks with that smoothed-out color. The white actually grays the shadows.

Anyway, I decided this painting looked lifeless and zombie-like. ZOMBIE PAINTING.

(Which, btw, there's an artist on DPW who does very original zombie paintings, if you're interested).

improved version (same size :-)
Accordingly, I did some warm washes over the few sunlit areas with permanent yellow and yellow ochre — extremely thinned with mineral spirits so it didn't become too opaque — and a wash of alizarin crimson on some of the cooler areas. It almost looks like a different painting, doesn't it? But that's all I did.

That and take a photo that's not blurred :-)

I like it. Perhaps it lacks some of the impact of the original, but it's a more attractive painting overall, and I think the foreground crape myrtles stand out better from the background now.

You can view and buy the new improved Spring Crape Myrtles here.    


  1. Marla, You did exactly the right thing! I like to glaze with very thinned paint and a little liquin....same effect except it also makes it look like a coat of varnish.

    The painting is wonderful, love the shape of the crape myrtle and those trees in the background are to die for!

    1. I was sooooooo proud of those trees! I have a graphic design/illustration background, and I love anything linear or graphic - not always good for painting, it's hard to break out of that and be loose.

      I do use Liquin also, especially in the initial blocking-in.


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