Here is the full series of flowers for my New England garden commission. I learned a lot painting this series - particularly about painting backgrounds. I had always been afraid of painting backgrounds and left a lot of them unpainted to save myself the heartache of messing up a piece after most of the work was done. I did have to start over on a few pieces - more on that below. But for the most part the backgrounds worked out all right.
I learned it's best to keep the background abstract, with mostly lost edges, to keep the focus on the subject. It's not important to get details into a background, unless it's something you want to draw attention to in a painting. So most of these backgrounds were done wet-in-wet, and the less fiddling I did the better they turned out.
It was very difficult to fight my instincts to clean up every imperfection as it happened. Whenver I tried to fix something before it dried, inevitably I would end up pushing around the pigment too much and creating a mess. This was especially true in the dark areas where there was a lot of pigment sitting on the paper. One pass was always the best policy!
The clients loved these paintings. These flowers were grown with care by a meticulous gardener whose husband had taken photos throughout the year, then commissioned me to paint them for her for a Hannukkah gift. I never realized how much a personalized gift like this could mean to someone. The wife wrote me a personal message telling me how she loved it because she felt there was a part of everyone included in the gift. As a bonus for the husband, I recorded timelapse videos of the paintings in progress and posted them on Instagram and Facebook, so he could see exactly where I was in the process. His wife never went on social media, so the gift remained a surprise until she received it.
I've included the timelapse of the lupine painting below to show how the background was done. For more timelapses of my paintings, head over to my YouTube channel and check out my by clicking here: Sandra Hsu Art Playlist