Artist killed by bouquet

All week I’ve been looking forward to painting a spectacular bouquet of flowers that’s on my counter — tiny yellow roses, a few long-stemmed red tulips, a fragrant hyacinth, and a giant, bursting pink peony. With a bit of free time on this rainy Friday afternoon I set myself up with a full palette of fresh colour and the best of intentions. But no matter what the angle was, no matter how I turned the vase, or stood or sat, nothing worked out for me. Bad planning, maybe? End of semester fatigue perhaps? Too ambitious a project after a long week? I don’t really know the answer. But what I do know is that the bouquet killed me and all I could muster up after many hours of frustration was a monochromatic still life. I guess some things are just too beautiful to paint.


48 Comments on “Artist killed by bouquet”

  1. loisajay says:

    You know this post title scared me! Thank goodness you are alright, Shari.


  2. nelvanl says:

    This is beautiful, though!
    I’ve had that happen before. Maybe too many colors? Who knows, who knows.
    In the end, you got a lovely painting.


  3. karim waked says:




  4. Lynn says:

    I love your mono work and you will too , tomorrow … Because you now have a detailed value plan and your colour choices can just be your favorites. So many times I have read that the colors don’t matter if your values are correct! No doubt you’ve heard this as well. So now you can get up fresh in the morning and your work is half done. I’m thinking of the old children’s story which alternates “Unfortunely” then the next page spins that situation into “Fortunely”.


    • Lynn, I have said that many times myself in workshops. Values are more important to me than colour. And also I think part of my problem was bad planning. I didn’t think enough about the values because I was seduced by the beauty and the colour of the bouquet. It was a good lesson learned but I didn’t end up painting the flowers again because the sun came out and I sketched outside. Many thanks for writing. I appreciate your thoughtful comments about my difficult painting day.


  5. Dee Ludwig says:

    Even your mess looks good to me!


  6. bmweeks says:

    Somethings happen for the best. This is beautiful!


  7. Marie says:

    Maybe it was meant to be a monochromatic, …..because you nailed it!


  8. Jess T. says:

    I agree with you that some things are just too beautiful to paint! I’ve tried to sketch a portrait of my boyfriend before and thank god he didn’t see it. I made his face look like a potato. I love the blue hues though, it seems perfect for the flowers.


    • Jess, you made me laugh today. I have tried to draw my husband, but I find it extremely difficult to draw people I know. I think the faces are too familiar to us. I much prefer to draw strangers or models in life drawing class. If they end up looking like potatoes, there are no hard feelings!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was fascinated by this whole idea of being”killed” by color and I think Lynn has the answer; might you paint it again but without worrying about the real colors?


    • Holly, I might try that. The colour wasn’t the only problem. I couldn’t resolve the composition either. I so wanted to draw that big gorgeous peony but as soon as I started to paint it, it became this big pink blob in the middle of the page. So I moved it to the side of the page and it was no better.


  10. Mary McLaughlin says:

    I love this painting! It has so much life force in it that it makes my heart sing. The values are wonderful! I also love your naked honesty about your struggles – I love that about you – your genuineness as a human being. You make me feel braver about my own struggles and you give me courage to take risks. The title made me laugh – I thought, oh yeah, I totally get it – been there, done that, died many times over myself! Sending you gratitude for who you are as both a painter and as a person.


    • Dean Mollon says:

      Very well said Mary. I agree…a very genuine person, great teacher, workshop facilitator and wonderful painter
      An inspiration to us all!
      Thanking you everyday Shari.


    • Marylin Smith says:

      …yes…very well said Mary!


    • Mary, thank you for this. I try to be honest about my work when I write, but I guess if I was totally open about the work I would have posted the ones that ended up in the recycling box too, right? Anyway, I am glad that you can relate. I once read that most watercolorists have a success rate of one in four. Some days that is definitely true for me. And other days the painting practically finishes itself. Go figure…


  11. More accurately, I think, sometimes, some things translate better in monochrome. And you’ve accomplished that beautifully. I saw the image on Instagram first and stared in awe.


  12. joani1 says:

    I cannot imagine color making this gorgeous painting any more beautiful than this – spectacular!!! ❤


  13. hilda5462 says:

    I love it! It’s different and beautiful, Shari! And I hear you about the flower overwhelm… I have had that experience! (though maybe it’s because I don’t ‘do’ flowers all that often! ) 🙂


  14. Garry Hamilton says:

    Beautiful monochrome painting. Looks to me like a play of textures rather than colour.

    Sent from my iPad



  15. Bernadette says:

    As always thanks for your story as well as your painting. We have all had struggles. Some paintings …just don’t work out as we hoped they would. Because we who follow you, appreciate your guidance in making good decisions in painting we also learn from what you call a defeat. You give us hope as we continue. You encourage us with your challenges, so that Will learn not to give up.
    Your monochromatic painting is lovely….blue is my favorite color.
    Thanks for sharing. Thanks for you.


  16. Dottie Aiken says:

    I so agree with your comments. It has always been strange to me that some paintings go so smoothly and some just do not happen so easily. They sit and sit and often remain unfinished. But, you finished and it is beautiful. You always seem to make your paintings glow with light and contrast and I, along with many, enjoy each one. Thank you!


    • Dottie, thanks. I think I was suffering from lack of sun over a long winter… That is my explanation for this problem. But the weather was much nicer over the weekend and I did get out to paint. It’s great to read all these comments. Thanks for joining in.


  17. Julana says:

    I’ve had that struggle with a bouquet, too. Some things cannot be reduced to two-dimensions, the limitations of pigment, and an opaque surface. But the time spent trying is a receiving, a recognition it was here, an expression of gratitude for its being.


  18. sue says:

    I like this one a lot,maybe add color later. I thinking of trying the monochromatic scheme as well.


  19. Judy Sopher says:

    Wow!! This looks so intricate. Difficult enough ( and pretty enough) without color. BTW,what color did you use? size?

    I like your one color paintings and need to try it myself. I’m going thru a “dead” time and having very little that is working for me.


    • Judy, when I’m having trouble with painting, I always go back to monochrome studies. This one was with Indigo. Give it a try if you are going through a “dead” time and see if that helps.


  20. Chris Rusk says:

    Hi Shari
    This work is every bit as interesting as your other one colour paintings.

    If the mental gymnastics were tougher this time, maybe your inner self just wants to paint that gorgeous bouquet ‘all out’ in full colour.

    I was introduced into watercolour painting methodically – one colour; then a lot of gauche colour mixing exercises (the final one was 12 colours times the same twelve colours equaling 144 colours!); then a 2 colour painting; and finally, full colour – which I had the hardest time getting a handle on – too much freedom!

    I have always loved how you can paint with as many colours as you choose with fantastic results. Your recent one colour paintings do help to open up the thought process to new ideas. But maybe now it’s time to go back to many colours again.

    I know I will love seeing which ever pallet you choose 🙂

    Cheers, Chris


    • Judy Sopher says:

      Can’t imagine your color exercises. Very interesting letter.


    • Chris, thanks for this thoughtful comment.
      Your teacher’s approach was certainly very methodical. I never went through anything quite as rigorous as this, but I do appreciate the scientific method to understanding colour.
      As you know, my education in watercolour was more of a design approach.

      I have often tried to analyze why some days are “good painting days” and others are not. I think that often it is more about “headspace” than anything else. You have to be in the zone, so to speak, at least I do, and if I am not there is no amount of knowledge that will make me turn out a good sketch or painting. Does that make any sense?


  21. Carolyn says:

    It might not be the nicest thing to say, but I am soooo happy you had problems. I have been doing watercolours since 2005 and I have several times when my paintings end up horrible! Other times I get stuck and feel like I know nothing. I feel so useless and discouraged. Hearing this from you is encouraging. I have such high admiration for your work. If this happens to you, then maybe, I am expecting too much fro myself. Thank you for sharing . I don’t feel so discouraged!


    • Carolyn, you made me smile. We ALL get discouraged, have bad days, turn out horrible paintings, etc. You are not alone. Glad my sharing made you feel a part of the misery!! The important thing I’ve learned with all of this is to just move on, get back on the horse, etc. There will be better painting days.


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