Ode to a Rhododendron

TM9724 Ode to a Rhododendron 30×30 oil on panel

I love a big showy rhododendron, but when I started this painting I thought it would be of peonies. I had loosely blocked in the blousy forms and was waiting for them to dry. As it happened, I had printed the photo of peonies on a sheet that also had a photo of the rhododendron. When I looked at the two photos, the gestural base layer I had blocked in looked more like the rhododendrons. Was it an accident? Or maybe my unconscious? From that point, I changed my palette and went with the second option. The crisscrossing leaves offer a contrast with the fluffy flowers. I have to find more rhoddies this year! Details below. Enjoy.

TM9724 Ode to a Rhododendron – detail showing use of various widths of rubber rollers
TM9724 Ode to a Rhododendron – detail from right side

Technical painting notes: I started with a loose pencil drawing on the white panel, then mixed a blue-black oil paint and started blocking in the darks with three and a four-inch soft rubber rollers. When I lost the forms, I went back to drawing with ebony pencil. THe back and forth of rolling and drawing produced interesting textures and lines. I let the panel dry, then built the image by refining with brush work, rolling, and drawing in layers. The roller keeps things loose and roller “accidents” yield interesting shapes.

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