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Hello again, I'm Nancy Kaminsky, today we're going to paint lilacs. This happens to be one of my favorite paintings and one of my favorite subjects. Also, although we've been stippling on different paintings, I want to show you how painting groups of flowers together like this small ones, we can create an effect by putting the color on the canvas, pulling up with the knife, and it creates a little petal that stands up. It's a very beautiful effect, and it's also very effective. I think that when you begin to paint, you fall into the trap of trying to paint every little thing. In this case, every little flower, it can be a disaster, time consuming, and of course, you can't imagine what problems you have, and it doesn't look very effective.
The first thing we're going to do now is we're going to stain the canvas as usual, like this. You should be used to this by now, maybe I shouldn't even tell you anymore, but there again, we do the usual first step, dry it off, like this, lightly, lightly, this particular step should be and will be automatic, like so many first steps, squeezing the color on the palette, all those things. You don't have to think about them, all you have to do is concentrate on your painting, and that's what the system is all about. As per usual, the grids, like this, like that, this way, of course, this needs now explanation, you've heard it, I'm sure, there, if not, there it is, like this, and like this.
There we are. Now when we get into things like street scenes, or where we have buildings, and we have to be a little more precise, with florals, it doesn't matter too much, or even a landscape. Now, we're going to put in our bowl, and a rule of thumb, generally, is to have the bowl or vase or pot a little less than half like this. We have a little different form today, it's rather square. By the way, there again, please put your square in, first, like that. Cut the sides in, like this, evenly, and don't forget to round off the bottom like this, and round off the top, remember, we're looking down into it, not at eye level, so the bottom and the top have exactly the same dip, like this, you see?
Now, this is a little different form, and there again, we're going to paint the general form. These flowers are cone-shaped, because actually the flower, it's rather shaped that way. It has space in between, so when we draw them, we're going to draw them this way. We'll put one in like this. Of course, this is very loose, we can change it a little bit a little later on, but for now, let's do it this way. We have one this way, work from the center out, and don't worry too much about it, because when we apply the color, then we can accent the form, this is very beautiful painting, because the flowers are very loose, and they explode from the canvas that way, it's very, very lovely, I picked those, I wish I could put the fragrance of those flowers into this
canvas, because I can still smell them, they're marvellous, they're like that, and incidentally you don't have to paint a flower that you can't get, even paint weeds, I've painted lovely things from the fields, or just ivy, or what are its growing? We have a little one here, a little tiny baby one there, and then we have about three here like this, of course I could have had less flowers, we get very much carried away, like that, and in this way, and they should overlap of course a little bit, they do anyway, we have a small one here, like that, now loosely that's the drawing, of course I have to shade it, we don't paint the leaves, we have some little flowers, yellow flowers, trailing ones, that come out the sides, which will be added later, so don't worry about those for the moment,
just do what's necessary for us, like that, I would like to extend the pot down just a little bit, like this, be free or feel free to make whatever changes you have to, now especially before you get started, there we are, I think that's up, that's up a little too high, that's okay, fine, now we shade them, where is the light coming from, that's always the next important step, in this case, the light is coming from the top, this is a little unusual in this painting because we have the light from the top, and then we have medium tone and dark tone on the bottom, the flowers are highlighted on the top, and the shadow is underneath, and we have a shadow under the flowers on the pot, we will shade them accordingly, like this, not too much, and again not too runny, like that, this way, in this case, there's something interesting, these light likes are lying side by side
of no east and west, when they're up like this, the shading is then here, like that, you see that, like this, and we're getting a light on top of them, like that, see, there again we go back to having the light on the bottom, like that, these are horizontal, and of course the light is a little different, it's on the bottom, these are vertical, and so the light is this way, on top of the two masses, it's two masses like that, you see, and of course the laws is shaded this way, underneath, like that, and I think that's really all we should do for the moment, like that, I always think it looks so interesting and seepia, fine, now we're going to go into color, as usual, we do the background first, and we're going to start with the light tone at the top, usually we start with the dark
tone on the side where the light isn't coming from, and at this point we're going to start with the light tones at the top, medium tone, dark tone, let's take our knife, we start with the light tone, like that, now when you apply this color on the flowers, of course you always go between the flowers like that, and go into the cones a little bit, as we remember that those blossoms are not solid, and you will see the light through them, and please do it now, because you might use up your color, and then not have any color to fill in any spaces you've left, so please do that as you work, and then the blossoms go out over the background, and it's fine, then you're not in any trouble, this is very beautiful painting, color wise, it's a very interesting painting, this is another thought I want to bring out to, when you're painting a floral, especially a floral, or fruit,
or whatever, your background should be subordinate to your subject, in other words, it should not be as bright or as dominant as your subject, in this case I keep grayed down colors, always in the background, their background colors, that's what they're for, they compliment the painting, but they don't take over, now we're going to use a middle tone, this is a very beautiful green, with blue, and lavender, I chose it liberally, it's a very exciting combination, this is something you will learn, it's acquiring good tasting color, and understanding what colors are harmonious and effective, keep it loose, watch your pot, now the dark tone at the bottom, like this, like this, now we have a beautiful peacock blue which
will go into the vase, and it's stunning with this particular off shade of olive green, it's actually a grayed down light green, you must be very careful working with greens in the background, when you put your leaves in you will lose part of them, don't forget to take the dark tone up into the light tone, and what have you, like that, keep it interesting, please don't beat it to death, keep it tonal values, keep it interesting, leave it alone, all right, now we're going to put the shadows in, because if I don't I shall forget them, like that, like that, because I'm always so anxious to get to the flowers, there we are,
remember, over, down, over, down, this is an interesting stroke, and I use it for so many things, for water, for grasses, and what have you, and once you learn the stock of strokes, you can use it for so many things in painting, it's very, very effective and very useful, I think I have that too high, just flip it out, this is the marvelous thing about oil painting, as you can see, you have any trouble, flip it out, that's how you do flip, there's what the painting, there, bye, now, let's put in the bowl, or the vase, whatever you want to call it, it has this gorgeous peacock blue, like that, remember your strokes, all this time we don't have a round one, so we can go straight down with our knife like
this, go to the middle tone, like that, and the light tone, like this, please watch the bottom of your pot, I'm going to darken that just a wee bit by adding a little extra purple or rather blue and aqua for emphasis, because I think it needs it, and I think it's very beautiful that one, there we go, now we will bring some of the petals down over the pots, so don't worry about it, I'm going to put a highlight on now, instead of later, because I would rather do it now, I might forget about it, so I'm going to put a highlight
here, like this, and little one like that, fine, now, let's start with the flowers, we'll start with the white ones on the right, and there again we start with the dark tones first, like this, this is the most exciting part of all, putting on these little blobs and ending up with a flower, and this is why this particular system is so effective and so exciting, because I realize you're sitting there thinking yes, but my blobs will look like blobs, but if you paint a while and practice, your blobs will be flowers, that's the dark tone, medium tone, and then we go to the light tone, now this is the thing, I'm going to say, when we put the light petals on, keep them loose, like that, please don't pack them in, even if some canvas shows, and bring out a few petals like that, because they do
hang free, and bring some down in here, because the light is catching some of the other petals that are sticking up, like this, I'm going to darken that just a wee bit underneath, like this, and go through the center, when a painter likes what the particular subject he's doing, I think he paints it lovingly, and this is what I'm doing with this one, now we can go back and add more blobs to that, but leave it alone for the moment, and go to the next one, very exceptional, I like that, I think, they're very large, now this is a very interesting thing, because these flowers are close together, you may have problems if you don't use your tonal values correctly, if getting them all running together, but
you can see how you play dark, light, dark, light, and so on, and keep your form, go to the middle tone, and go through here like this, because there is a space, now we go to the light tone, and we can always add more, but don't fuss with it at the moment, like this, well, except for the shape, you might end up with hydrangeas, but I think that's your shape, I'm running out of color, which can happen, and by the end up looking like hydrangeas, just make circles, and you're all right, dark tone underneath, like that, don't fuss,
there we are, very, very careful, I must be very careful with the bottom of the flowers, so that they're much more effective and more definite, let's leave that for the moment, go to the other one, it's much better to do all the white ones or the purple ones first, maybe because I'm such a practical little housewife, and painting in the kitchen all the time, maybe has its effect, I don't know, there we are, we paint this, needless to say, this is when you really will use lots of white paint, now keep them loose, and please don't
pack them in, now keep them hanging loose, bring some out over the background, but look as though they're not attached, we can add more white as we go along, I believe we have another white one here, I try to alternate them, but not having purple white, purple white, you must think of this also when you're painting, there we are, I want to tell you that I climb the huge fence, a huge lilac bush trying to get these flowers, we do an awful lot for our art, I'll tell you, there we are, we have to darken that a little bit, it's getting a little light underneath there, so I'm going to darken it a bit to make it
much more effective, do they look like lilacs through you, are you worried, I'm not, why you're painting and when it's halfway through you will become very discouraged, but like anything that's halfway finished, it doesn't look normal and it doesn't look right, but keep going and finish the painting, then look at it and find out what's wrong, but for goodness sakes, don't try to evaluate your painting, why you're trying to finish it, because there'll be dozens of changes you will make and it will all come together at the last moment, if you follow directions and you do what you're supposed to, but don't become discouraged or upset while you're doing it, because nothing looks right when it's half finished, not even human beings, do they, I can remember my teens, look terrible, goodness,
I know there's much improvement, but then we go the other way, I guess as we get older, I think the most terrible period is going through your teens, and that's the same thing with going through this stage in your painting, ghastly. We have another small one right here, like this, and we'll add some white. Now, I'll leave that for the moment, let's go to the purple ones, I know the purple ones the best, take the very dark tone and we start this way, now this is what gives it snap, God, that we have purple and white lilacs, like this, let's add the light tone on that, there again, please have them go out over the other flowers, as though these little petals
are all hanging loose, which they are, like that, we have another one up here, now this is, I want you to notice this particularly, because the shading is underneath like this, like that, and we work it this way, and down into the center, and we're going to put a little purple up here like this, you see that will also separate your flowers, I don't know what I do without purple, that seems to be the most, well I think it's the purple school of painting, I'm sure of it, Picasso had his blue period, although he ran out of paint actually, he denied it later, he was very poor, he only had blue paint left, of course, now he's very famous for his blue period, although he had to read his life story, I don't
know when he had time to paint, he's prolific in quite a few areas I think, there we are, now let's put a few purple ones here, like this, this takes a great deal of paint, so I have a lot of paint mixed, I'm constantly running out of paint, so you must be, what a way to go, isn't it marvelous, get some light tone here, don't pack it down, please, you're going to put the medium tone up here like this, it looks like ice cream, doesn't it, you sure they hang loose, I'm going to put a few more purple ones up there like that,
I'll get a few more colors in there, these are the light tones, are you still with me? there, now I believe that we have the lilacs in, I don't want to do too much to them, I think that's fine, good enough, it looks lovely, that's the way to, let's make this little darker in here please, to create the difference of different flowers actually, okay, like this, I'm going to put in leaves, I have three leaves here like this, I may find it difficult
to put over the lumps, very lightly hold your knife and very lightly draw in three leaves, right over the lumps like that, like that, we have one here, just to break up the color, like that, we have another leaf here, and we have one here, and I believe we have a little leaf here like this, now I pick from this lovely tree, a flower which I believe is called lubernium in England, and that's where I first saw these and painted them, now with this, we're just going to put a simple stroke like that, it's very quick painting, and there
again with the use of our color, the three tones, we just blob it on very quickly and do not belabor it, and it's like this, as little dark ones like that at the top, like that, and then it has medium tone, as we get towards the light, we're getting more light on them, and then we have the very light tone like this, there we are, now we're going to put a little greenery in there, like that, you will admit this is a very satisfying painting to do, and one that you will also love, I do believe I have all the leaves in, I would like to put another one right here, like that, to break up the white a little
bit, and a few flowers at the bottom that have dropped below, like this, it brings the color down to the base of your canvas, and creates a feeling of unity and harmony in your painting, that's a little blue, this is a reflection of your vase down to the table, like that, and underneath your little droppings, we will also have some, there I think that is, well I think that's it for today, it's a very satisfying painting, and I think you'll do very well with it, and it will be a painting you will love to look at all the time that you have, it's a signature next, goodbye for now. Have a good enjoy.
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Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky
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Connecticut Public Television
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Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Nancy Kominsky teaches viewers how to paint lilacs.
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Fine Arts
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Host: Kominsky, Nancy
Producing Organization: Connecticut Public Television
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Chicago: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 104; Lilacs,” 1976, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 104; Lilacs.” 1976. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 104; Lilacs. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from