Monday, December 28, 2009

Berries in Blue Pitcher - Just about finished

Hope everyone had a very special holiday, now we can look forward to the New Year and all it's wonderful possibilities!

Painted yesterday and today in the studio and am nearly finished with this piece. More work on the cloth, I think, and some tweaking here and there.

My goals were to use the concept of "intensity", muted colors except for my center of interest. The second was to create a patterned background that was subtle and painterly and didn't overpower the foreground or the center of interest. Do you think I accomplished my goals?

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" (Work in Progress) 16" x 20" Pastel on Wallis Paper

Close-up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher"

Close Up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Update on Berries in Blue Pitcher

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" 16 x 20" Pastel (Work in Progress)

Spent the morning painting in the studio with my artist friend and studio mate, June. We had a very productive morning. Since my last posting I have been correcting values, blending, adding more strokes on top, and painting the flow blue china pitcher. I had to drag out the David Leffel book to see how he paints flow blue. Quite a challenge, but I'm pretty happy with it right now.

It was good to get the detail into the flow blue pitcher as the pattern in the background will be softer-edged, and it would have been tough to tell how soft if I didn't have the focal point detail to judge by.

Left to be painted is the pattern in the background, the large pitcher, berries, and foreground cloth. Can't wait to paint the berries...but painting them will be like dessert!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lighting a Studio Still Life

A few days ago I was asked how I do my lighting for still life painting. The question was whether the lighting on "Berries in Blue Pitcher" was one or two lamps. I thought I would share my answer here and show you a couple of pics of what my lighting setup looks like (not elegant in the least!).

"It is actually one incandescent lightbulb (100 watt) in a silver metal cone that is about 10" across. A shop light basically.

I have a 1 x 2 piece of lumber from floor to ceiling that I can attach the lamp to. It's off to the left of the setup.

I do have a wall of black foam core on the left so the shop light peaks over the top and gives the lighting on the background and since it is wide it also peaks around the front edge of the foam core wall (and an extension...whatever was handy) giving the light falling on the front of the objects. This type of side lighting is important for light and shadow (chiaroscuro) painting, it gives you a structure of light and dark, and moves your eye from left to right.

You know, I have never had anyone teach me how to light a setup until I started studying with Deb. I have learned about cool lights, day lights, incandescent lights and what effects the light has on color.

I am using an incandescent light bulb like you would use in a living room lamp which gives off a very warm light. That means my shadow areas will be cooler than my light areas in color temperature. When people talk about painting in north light (which is very cool) their shadows are warm and their lights are cooler in relationship."

Thanks James for asking!!!!

Close up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher" (Work in Progress)

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" 16 x 20" Pastel on Wallis (Work in Progress)

Spent some time in the studio today working on the background mostly, and a little work on the pitchers adjusting color, shape and value. Will be working on it in class on Thursday night, and will post my progress.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Berries in Blue Pitcher

I was able to get away and paint at the studio today...a lovely way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Starting a new painting today with a concept of "intensity", which means the colors are fairly muted until you get to the focal point (blue pitcher with red berries) where the intensity of color really makes it pop out. I also wanted a background that wasn't overpowering but would add an element of design.

Worked out the sketch over the Dynamic Symmetry Grid which helped me place my items and get the composition worked out, using a pastel pencil or two.

The third photo is where I stopped today. The work I completed was getting the large shapes of darks laid in, the lights in with an eye toward the value rather than the exact color. I will work up to the final colors as I go. The blotches in the background are where the floral shapes will be painted in the background fabric. At this point I have only used Nupastels (hard pastels).

Photo of Setup - Different Viewpoint than Painting

Sketch on Top of the Dynamic Symmetry Grid

" Berries in Blue Pitcher", 16 x 20" pastel on Wallis (Work In Progress)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brass Pitcher and Onions Study - Finished

"Brass Pitcher and Onions Study", 10 x 12", Pastel on Wallis White Sanded Paper

I finished this in class last night. I was struggling with a couple of problems:

1. The left side of the painting with the onion in partial light just wasn't working. It was hard to read the onion skin fragment and it led to the left onion with wonky lighting and you got stuck there. So at my pastel instructor's suggestion I moved the left onion all the way back in the shadow. This, hopefully, brings the viewer's eye into the painting at the partial fragment of onion skin, then to the reflection of it in the brass pitcher and then to the right onion which is my focal point. There was some discussion of leaving it out altogether, but decided it might bring a bit more interest to the left side.

2. While I liked the looseness of the painted brass pitcher in the early stages, the onion, especially the one on the right was painted at a more thorough level and the two (the onion and pitcher) then looked too different. So I brought up the brass pitcher to the level of painting of the onion, especially the handle, and smoothed out some of the strokes in the main body of the pitcher.

I learned a great deal from this study (as well as the others):

1. Everything in the painting must have a reason for being there, including how it is lit and what purpose it serves in leading you to the focal point.

2. To put down my blacks/darks first before adding color, especially red, as putting down the color first and then the blacks/darks makes the red shadows look grainy and muddy.

3. Wallis is a far superior paper for my technique than Colorfix by ArtSpectrum. The latter's tooth is completely different than the former which makes filling the early layers very tedious with more blending than I care to do. The surface on finished pieces of CF look lumpy.

Thanks for following along! Back into the studio on Monday for another study...maybe it will be the brass pitcher again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wednesday's Work on Brass Pitcher

Grayscale of "Brass Pitcher and Onions"

Still a work in progress "Brass Pitcher and Onions" 10 x 12" pastel study

I thought it might be fun to see the grayscale today. A grayscale can give you a really good idea of how your values are reading. Color can be tricky to see it's value, so putting your paintings in grayscale in photo editing software can be really helpful.

The work to be finished on Thursday afternoon and evening will be the left onion, it looks a little off to me, and the skin fragment. That little piece of skin should be very transparent and it's looking a little to heavy/solid right now.

The right onion was the focus of my attention today brushing out the old shadow and laying in more black and darks to make the onion really fit into the lighting scheme and the "world" of the painting.