Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘flower painting’

I had so much fun at the Willamette Valley last weekend! After hiking the Silverton Falls (10 falls, 7 miles…we shortened our hike and had 5 falls in 5 miles…gorgeous), we toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House (my favorite architect of all time…what a treat), then managed to fit in a stop at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm before calling it a day…yep, all that in ONE day, and heading back to our VRBO in McMinnville.

I was somewhat amazed (and a little disgusted, frankly) at the commercialism of the Wooden Shoe. I had different visions of a quiet, peaceful field of tulips, but instead, there were inflatable kid toys, bungee jumping, rides through the tulips on a “train”, a hot air balloon, you name it. But for my purposes, we headed straight into the fields, where I managed to shoot about 200 photos of tulips and people in the tulips. It was incredibly beautiful.

You will see several paintings from this trip, but the first one I had to do was this one, a man on a bike, riding through the field. PERFECT! I took several shots of him. He seemed to be leisurely poking along, glancing down at the flowers every now and again, clearly out for a casual ride to see the sights.

First wash of teal and yellow

First wash of teal and yellow

String, paper squares, produce netting and scribbles dance in the canvas, providing a crazy, fun background for the tulip colors.


Tulip guy detail 1

In the background, I suggested trees and a distant field of pink flowers. You can see the squares of paper, produce netting grid, and string

Tulip guy detail 2

Up close of Mr. Tulip Guy, where there is gridded pattern of netting and paper squares as well as a fruit tree in the background.

Tulip guy detail 3

Here is a detailed view of the bike, with string, painted grids, and paper collage. As you can see, the flowers are not painted as such, but suggested by mass and color.

Finished original on Plexiglas! One of my favorite areas is the background, where it seems a little surreal, or suggestive of trees, clouds, and haze. This turned out to be a fabulous painting!! It strikes the perfect mood.

Petals, 20x16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

Petals, 20×16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

The question was…Petals? Or Pedals for my title. After some deliberation, I decided on Petals. Why? Not sure, other than that I just love the flowers.


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There must be contrast for interest. Really. If life/art/people/etc. were all just the same, we would find ourselves uninspired and bored. Ethnicity, culture, race, skin color, height, houses, food, personalities, paintings; if it were all the same, where would be be? I shudder to think. The blandness of sheer repetition would cause dullness of the senses.

And so it occurred to me this past weekend when I went to Portland with a friend of mine ( We went in search of potential gallery representation, as well as to enjoy Portland’s art scene. I was struck by the need for contrast. Not only concerning styles of paintings, but contrast within a painting. Contrast is an absolute necessity to create compelling interest.

We visited a variety of galleries. There seemed to be a disturbing amount of art that I wouldn’t want in my house. Much of it was seemingly simple, with dark themes, many hung without frames, and at exorbitant prices. Nonetheless, some of it was striking. Of the galleries we visited, a few stood out as representing accomplished artists of a range of styles, all employing the elements and principles of design in a compelling manner. Those galleries were Butters Gallery, Gallery 903, the Augen Gallery, and the Froelick Gallery. Again, we didn’t have time to see them all, but these were the best of those we visited.

Of the most noticeable common themes, texture seemed to be often employed element for many artists. Mixed media, tangible texture, and visual texture abounded. In addition to texture, contrast of value, such as darks against lights created compelling visuals. For instance, in a high-key painting of mostly light values, a shape, or line of black added at a focal point made the work sing. Or, in a mostly black/dark painting of war and oppression, bright spots of flags gave some relief in contrast and made the viewer look closer…longer.

So! To that end, I have come home very inspired to add contrast and increase texture surface to my paintings. As a result, I took one of my photos from my favorite artistic inspiration locale, Pikes Place Market in Seattle, of a flower vendor.

Flower vendor carrying flowers

I began with a basic reference photo.

I loved the way the flowers surrounded this girl as she carried a huge bouquet to a customer. In planning my painting, I cropped in closer to the girl and mapped out my values on a small thumbnail sketch. I wanted to produce an edgier painting, so planned a dark mass of value that connected her shirt, hair, and the bouquet to the edge of the painting.

Flower vendor value study

Value study. The arrows indicate visual movement of the dark value moving out of the edge of the painting.

Once I began painting, the texture came through from all the applications in the base of the gesso. This was a recycled painting, as well. It had a former life of being something else (that clearly didn’t work…). I had covered it and textured it up, but a little remained of the painting beneath, adding further interest.

Detail of the flowers around the vendor's face

Plenty of whites were left unpainted here in a detail of the flowers around the vendor’s face

Produce netting was used in various spots to create a honeycomb or a grid-like pattern.

Detail of produce netting pattern

Detail of produce netting pattern


I added many pops of color onto a neutral background of black/grey/and cobalt. Above, the vendor’s shirt takes on many textures. Produce netting squares, small squares of paper, scribbles in the gesso base, and 3D lines were painted into the surface before the paint was applied.

The edge of the bouquet.

The edge of the bouquet. This detail describes both the netting honeycomb pattern and the painted-in squares of color for interest.

More texture.


Watercolor pencils add a line element


Scribbles and underscoring create complicated patterns in the painting.

Scribbles and underscoring create complicated patterns in the painting.

And finally, the finished painting:

Flower Vendor copyright

“Transaction of Color”, 20×16, $550. Original painting. Watercolor on gesso and collage.

This painting has a very fresh, open feel, accomplished both by the texture, the massed values, and the bright areas of color. Hopefully you get a chance to view this painting in person. I will be installing it at Hood Avenue Art as soon as it is sealed and framed. It is very interesting to view the different textures and colors up close. All in all, I believe I captured the contrast I was going after with the almost-blacks, the neutrals with pops of color traveling in pockets throughout the painting, the gestural strokes, patterns, and texture. Look for these qualities to come up in my future work. Expand the mind, people!

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All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.



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When I saw the fresh (or not-so-fresh) deli meat in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator a day after I used it, I knew. Yep, I had lost it. You know the ad where the family finds the keys in the fridge? I felt like the woman who put the keys in the fridge. Alarmingly so. Yikes!

But I realized that most times, I’m just not where I am. For instance, on the day of the deli meat, I was making lunch and talking to my sons. Where should we go for a hike, was the topic of conversation. In my head, though, the thoughts ran like this: “Hiking…hmm…I should get more exercise. The dog, too. I wonder if anyone has let the dog out? Oh yeah…dogs…I should think about contacting my client about her dog painting. Then I could post it on Twitter. I need to check my Twitter account. In fact, maybe I’ll change my website up. Speaking of website, I saw a great recipe for stew on the internet. I’ll pull stew meat out of the freezer. Which reminds me. That tomato stained my shirt. I’ll start the laundry soon…” Mean while, I’m busily talking and listening to what is going on around me, as well as making the sandwiches. No wonder I put the meat in the cupboard!

Be where you are. Use all your senses to live the moment. When I paint, I try to capture those moments from the chaos. Smell the flowers, taste the ocean spray, see the beautiful colors and patterns, engage all the senses. I live too much in the future, planning. Or in the past, fixing. Not really being where I am.

This painting today is about being where you are. I’m capturing, for you and for me, that moment of brightness at Seattle’s Pikes Place Market. Can you smell the flowers? Hear the music and the voices? Taste the cookie sample on your tongue?

These flowers glow with gorgeous patterns and colors. The woman arranging is surrounded by chaos, by color and sound. She is living in the moment. She sees flowers and patterns and arranges them thus so, engaged and absorbed in the details.

I’m sharing this moment with you as best I can, through my voice in watercolors. Enjoy. Think about being where you are. I’m trying. Maybe I will save on the grocery bill!

Painting “Joyful Surroundings”

I began the painting my flower vendor by texturing the plexiglass, using real flower leaves and fabric paint, as well as collaged squares:

Flower leaves and fabric paint add texture to the canvas.

Flower leaves and fabric paint add texture to the canvas.

After the gesso and collage dried, I drew in the composition and began painting the beautiful flower vendor.


The flower vendor detail, showing liquid mask on the whites of the tissue.

Using a pallet primarily of green and red complementary colors, I painted the flowers around her.


Detail of first wash, illustrating the flowers, shirt, and green stems around the flower vendor.

Adding more detail to the painting:


Adding more detail to the woman in the third wash.

When I felt the painting was about 90% done, I removed all the liquid mask.

Detail showing the removal of liquid frisket from all white-preserved areas.

Detail showing the removal of liquid mask.

Almost done, I sat the painting in the living room and watched it for a week. Really. Things become clear as you glance at it now and then.

Almost done. I set it aside for a week, wondering if I was completely done.

I had propped it up against binoculars on the piano. When sun came through the window one day, the binoculars cast a shadow on the flowers through the front. Bingo! I saw what the painting needed. I painted the front white tissue a mid value to guide the eye to the focal point, the flower vendor. I also darkened the values in the back, especially around the woman shopping. Now the eye moves easily through the painting, with the whites forming an angled “T” from the lower LH side, coming up through the white tissue and background windows, and coming back down through the buckets and tissue on the right side.

Joyful Surroundings. 11x19 watercolor and collage on recycled plexiglass. $300 framed

Joyful Surroundings, 11×19 watercolor on plexiglass. Available for purchase.

Joyful Surroundings. Are you like me? Do you live in the future, planning? Try to “fix” the past in your mind (I should have said this or that…)? If so, I challenge you to try, for a few moments a day, to shut those voices out and engage the senses. I hope you can you smell the flowers and feel the joy in this painting, a moment when I fully took in all around me.  Live presently. Be where you are. Let me know how it goes…:)

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All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.

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September Sunflower on Thursday. Can you believe it’s been a week?

This is the last of the Sunflower Series for now. I’m on to other things. I’m thinking toothbrushes. Yep. Really. Took photos today. Just you wait…

Here ya’ll go:

September Sunflower copyright

September Sunflower. 8×8 on gessoed watercolor paper

Remember to follow me on Facebook for updates and to bid on this little painting today only! Happy Thursday!

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Sunflower Season is upon us! Not sure about you, or where you live, but here in Bend, Oregon, sunflowers are showing their sunny faces everywhere you look. Therefore, this week I’m devoting my paintings to their simple beauty.

I started three paintings on my watercolor board all at once. I finished one for Thirty-Dollar Thursday! It turned out wonderful!

I experimented with several background colors and compositions. Here is one:

Sunny Sunflower

Sunny Sunflower, 8×8 watercolor on gessoed paper

During the month of September, I’m offering my Thirty-Dollar Thursday every week…with a twist! This time, I’m changing the format to a bidding process. The amount will start at $30, but if you want it, bid on it. A 12-hour window, 7am to 7pm, on Facebook, will be the platform. The person with the highest bid at 7pm Pacific Time gets the painting. Shipping, if necessary, is extra.

If you want to bid on it, please follow me on Facebook, which is where the bid will take place.  Happy Thursday, everyone!!

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