Why am I painting this? This month’s workshop challenge at www.thecompleteartist.ning.com is a still life has grapes, a pear and a white jug (or mug in my case). It continues from last months challenge. It teaches 1) how to set up a still life with a good source of direct lighting, 2) how to paint from the objects (not a photo) and 3) how to see everything that is going on with reflections, lights, darks and midtones (among other lessons). So, here we go!
Working through the lesson:
Sketching and notan: The dark background needs something light, light tablecloth? Plate? Something to even it out.
Having problems with the ellipses. The plate is distorted and really hard to fix! Solution: Use this YouTube video that shows how to correct the ellipse. Just sketch a rough draft of what your “plate” looks like, then apply this technique to make it more accurate. Much better.
Underpainting: Cool background (green/blues) warms in/around objects (yellow-brown?) … water down acrylics almost to watercolor consistency.
Background texture: How do I get the fleece to look fleecy? Block in the folds with darks/light areas. Using the old brush dab repeatedly to work out the lines between the light/dark areas. Add a bit of yellow to the green and add light dabs to light areas, green to the blue/blacks and dab in the dark areas. Nice!
Painting glass to look real (reflections, the sheen). I found this long, boring video on painting still lifes (17 part video??) and after 3 video parts I have a better idea of getting a convincing look of a glass surfaces. For reflections, paint a light reflection that looks about right on the still life, then paint a watery coat of the glass color over it. Thin – translucent. I really like Quang Huang still life’s, but he’s SO good it’s hard to understand the basics he’s not mentioning. Boring video shows it better.
Grapes: Looking at other submissions, Richard’s video and Quang’s video, do a red-purple oval/circle, let dry. Repeat to darken color. Add reds to the center to make the grape look like light is going through it. Maybe a bit of orange. Keep red and orange semi watery. Let dry. Add reflections as you see them. Emphasize the green pear on nearest grape to tie the pear in to the grapes. White dot highlight. Same with the pear. Shadows: check out pixels on photograph and look to see if that’s what you see in the still life. Purple grapes..some green-grays. Pear… some red-grays, almost purple grays.
Need to connect the green pear with red grapes: throw a few loose grapes over there.
Nice. Looks like I can grab the plate!!
Let the acrylics dry, then varnish to bring back the crisp color.
Ok, this took 3 days… time to step back and come back to see mistakes.
Update: coming back to it, it definitely looks “real”. How do I get it to look loose? May need to look again at too much stem?
Update#2: Got great advice from Richard today. Finish a painting (DON”T VARNISH) and when it’s finished, then go back and loosen up the edges with a BIG BRUSH. No fear!! Just do it!