My “Dazzling Dahlia”

Remember that sad-looking overgrown dahlia I drew last month? Oh, it was depressing. That oil pastel painting was — in part — responsible for the art funk I slipped into. As much as I hate to show it again, here it is in all its less-than-magnificent glory.

I was so frustrated when I tried drawing/painting this dahlia that I ended up deliberately ruining it, intentionally making it even more awful than it originally was.

At the time I was just beginning to work with oil pastels — for the first time since early 2016. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with those colorful sticks of pigment. I hated this floral painting, and as far as I was concerned, I never wanted to see a dahlia again.

But then a couple of things happened.

First, I started having fun with my oil pastels, so much so that I wanted to learn more about using them. I also bought a few new sets of oil pastels. I’m glad that I did. I now have a variety, I know how one set differs from another, and I’ve learned a lot about how to use them properly. For a quick review of what I’ve learned, you can re-visit this post: How to Use Oil Pastels.

Second, I came across a 15-day “Floral Drawing Challenge” on Facebook. Since I’d been doing a lot of floral studies in Joy Ting’s Creative Bug “Color Play“, I wanted a chance to keep going and push myself a little more. I wanted to practice the new skills I was learning.

On Day 3 of the Floral Challenge, I winced a bit. Our prompt was a “Dazzling Dahlia”. Oh, dear. After that awful dahlia I’d done… well, no. I refused to look back. I’m a better oil pastel artist now than I was a month ago, so I looked at this as an opportunity to redeem myself somewhat. I knew I could use my oil pastels and create a much better dahlia this time.

Maybe it’s not really “dazzling”, but I think it’s definitely an improvement over the first. By the way, I used the same reference photo as before.

You’ll notice I didn’t “ruin” this one by scribbling in a background, and I was careful not to let it become “overgrown” with petals. Hopefully you can see some improvement in my oil pastel techniques.

I’m happy to see myself making progress, and I am thoroughly enjoying all of my oil pastels. There’s been one more addition. I saw a box of 6 Paul Rubens white oil pastel sticks, and we all know, of course, we can never have too many white pastels!

I ordered the white sticks, got them the next day, and I am absolutely in love with them. They are almost as soft and creamy as my precious Senneliers. They blend easily, or I can use them to make unblended highlights. I’m definitely pleased with the purchase and am considering buying a color set of the Paul Rubens oil pastels.

So, let’s look again at these two oil pastel paintings done about 30 days apart.

I’m excited to see the progress here and I can’t wait to see what my oil pastels will look like in June… in July… and beyond. I’m so glad I have re-discovered oil pastels. I am really having fun with them.

21 Comments

  1. I love seeing your progress on this. I attended a Matisse exhibit years ago where they also displayed his progress photos of one of the paintings. You’re in good company.
    It’s not the masterpieces that encourage others to try their hand at making art. Thank you for your generosity of spirit.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I really am seeing improvements with my oil pastels, so, of course, that makes it more fun to keep using them. I am really excited to be learning more about oil pastel.

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    1. I’m really enjoying them. In 2016 when I first tried oil pastels, I really couldn’t find any information on how to use them. There’s a lot of information available now, so I’m starting to figure it out… at least a little 🙂

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  2. Nice pastel drawings of the Daliahs, The middle one is the best. I’m not really sure if Oil Pastel is the best medium for professional artwork. Maybe that is just my mindset, but it is very smudgy and oily, I never was able to achieve any work I was satisfied with using oil pastel.

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    1. It can definitely be smudgy and messy, so that’s something I’m working on. I have seen some gorgeous oil pastel paintings, so I know it’s possible. I’ll probably never reach that level, but it’s an enjoyable medium to work with. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

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  3. I see a huge Improvement in your drawing skill. The first Dahlia was your idea of a dahlia, meaning a flower with an intimidating number of petals. The second Dalia seems to be drawn from real observation: looking at a dahlia and seeing what is there, not what you think is there. Congratulations!⁶

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    1. Thanks. Yes, with the first dahlia, I couldn’t get the shape right, so I just kept adding more and more petals LOL. I finally had it so overgrown and so misshapen I gave up. For the second one, I was a bit more careful. 🙂

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  4. I’ve done that before, too! Sabotaging my own art in frustration. It almost feels like a defiant act even though it’s only toward ourselves. I definitely can’t say I’ve always persisted to the same degree you have here! I love to hear the inspiring story and beautiful results. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who sometimes takes my frustrations out on my art. You’re right about that “defiant” feeling. I guess in some weird way we’re claiming a little power… you think? I’m glad I was able to come back and do another dahlia, and I’m very happy that I got better results the second time. 🙂

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  5. I think you’re right about that! By the way, (at the risk of overkill with my commenting) when I said you “persisted,” I meant with getting the right result—not with the self sabotage. Haha, I just reread my comment and realized it may have come off wrong. You make wonderful visual art and I find both dahlias beautiful. Thanks again.

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  6. this is beautiful!! your blog is so inspiring, im a young artist and so it’s really amazing to see other people’s progression through their art it makes me more motivated. lovely flowers 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I wish I’d been able to pursue art when I was young. I didn’t start learning to draw until retirement age. I’m glad I finally gave it a try. Art has really changed my life.

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