Came around the corner one very early morning and was immediately inspired by this simple Pink Zinnia (24 x 12, oil on canvas) bouquet on my kitchen table. It was a spontaneous still life requiring no setup (the best kind!). Only thing I needed to do was scrap what I had planned for the day; then bring my easel, paints, brushes, terpenoid and palette into the kitchen (which became my studio for the duration of this painting) and get to it! 


I say this like it was all easy. And it was. But also it took a deliberate choice to go with what was unexpectedly right in front of my eyes and making my breath come quicker instead of what I had thought I’d be doing that day. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but more often than not it is because of the flexibility I’ve intentionally cultivated.


In this piece I wanted to keep our viewer’s focus on the single pink zinnia, so conceived of all else as holding the space for it. Like the backdrops and supporting players on a stage that are essential to framing the main scene.


As such, I kept the background very simple and almost abstract by laying in simple blocks of color for the table, wall and window without trying to make it representational.


The dark green foliage is also quite simplified and even angular. In these areas I focused on the negative space (the wall, etc in background) as much as the positive space (the leaves) to keep the same feel as the background color blocks. 


The white flowers (stocks I think?) were treated similarly in terms of keeping them less detailed than the pink zinnia focal point, though created with a more rounded circular stroke to reflect the nature of the plant itself. 


For the bottle and water inside it, I had fun making them pretty realistically while keeping them soft in stroke and color. Very exciting to see and bring in the abstract shapes created by reflections of the water and stems on the glass table. 


The next piece I completed was Hydrangea Bouquet (12 x 12, oil on canvas), wherein the source material was something I originally saw in a photo. And desired to paint because this image too inspired a similar physical reaction (shining eyes, shortness of breath, speedy heartbeat, pause in my actions, hairs on end). 


Something about the expansive spread of shapes (soft round and curved petals, sharp spikey flowers buds and leaves) and complimentary colors caught my attention. 


This Hydrangea Bouquet piece clearly has more floral components overall; where the hydrangea, yellow lily and yellow roses all grab our attention as our eyes move around the painting. 


But I still wanted the eyeballs of us viewers to stay focused on the central area (in this case vs one single focal point flower in the Pink Zinnia bouquet). 


I also stuck with the simplified color block background wall and table to keep our attention on the flowers. 


Again too, the dark lush foliage is here as supporting cast and crew to the main players on stage: hydrangea, lily and roses.


In both these paintings I’ve been enjoying combining areas of high representationalism with simplified areas of abstractness, and feel it adds to the drama of each piece. Plus is a fun way to expand beyond my style to date.


I’m very curious: what do YOU think of these two paintings?


Let us know in a blog comment below!


XO Hannah



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