Lost and Found – Painting all Over

In my continuing attempt to deal with unfinished paintings, I came across one of an amarylis flower from last spring that lacked the energy that I found in that beautiful bloom. I loved the reds and I felt attached to the colours in the painting, but not the outcome.

Painting details. Click on the images for a larger version.
Amarylis 2010-2011

In the end I felt my painting was overworked and I work very hard at painting in a loose and free manner. It requires concentration and confidence. If I allow doubt and hesitation to take over, the marks and strokes reflect that and the work looses it’s fluidity. My painting confidence comes from regular painting but also enough sleep, feeling good about other things, great food, company, music and surroundings. A painter friend of mine said it perfectly: “I live in a state of constant angst about painting covered with a thin patina of confidence.” There is so much that goes into a painting! It is a mysterious alchemy.

Waiting for the thaw.

I’ve been admiring for months the colored bottles in my windowsill that hold seed pods from last year’s fields. My friend Pamela came by the other day and said “Why don’t you paint those green bottles?” The question had occurred to me as well – I just wasn’t sure how to approach it.

And then as I was going through my pile of “unfinished paintings”,  I came across the Amaryllis. I decided to use it as the background for my painting of the bottles because red and green are complementary colors and are very exciting together.

A chose a pthalo green for this painting which I rarely use. Honestly, I’m not very fond of that green at all (although I love it in this painting!). But I wanted a contrast for the red underneath. So against my emotional judgement, I smeared a combination of the green, a touch of zinc white and gel medium over the entire canvas.

Scraping the green paint reveals the painting underneath.

The gel medium delays the drying time and enables me to scrape the paint away right down to the color on the canvas. I use a rubber tipped “color shaper” for this.
The big advantage of painting over another painting is that it really eliminates the “fear of the white canvas phenomena” 🙂 It also creates unintentional surprises when the two realities of two different images combine or collide.
You can see in this photograph that the Amaryllis is still showing through the green. That transparency is because of the gel medium that I added to the colors.

I really liked the intensity of the red against the dark green.

Because of the green, I was drawn to put some blue highlights into the painting in a cerulean blue colour that I also rarely use. I also added a red oxide. In other words, because I had stepped away from my usual palette with the green, I was compelled to use colours that I seldom use.

Some strategic opaque greens obscure the flower head.

I’m very happy with the looseness of this painting. I like the feeling of a woodcut and the suggestion of a drawing as well. The ‘hidden’ painting has brought this canvas to life.

Hidden in the Shadows. Acrylic painting by Flora Doehler, 2011.
This photo gives you an idea of the size of the canvas.
Painting seed pods with a creamy colour bring the stalks forward.
If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please contact me at

4 thoughts on “Lost and Found – Painting all Over

  1. Cool Flora,Maybe it's really a thick undercoat of confidence covered with a thin patina of angst. Glad to see that your deep confidence as a painter won out.Great painting and description.XOBarbara

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