Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Apples

I worked hard to get the apples in yesterday in one go. I know they're not going to look the same in a couple of days. Working the red and green areas in this extreme lighting was quite challenging. Without planning to, I set up the entire painting around a complementary color scheme. I worked some of the reds into the greens and vice versa to try and get the shadows to scintillate and to get the complements to harmonize a little better. I'm liking working on the ebauche so I may stick with it a little bit. One thing that I did that's a little different is I stained the canvas with thinned raw umber and then after that was dry I put the ebauche over it. That gave it more of a "dead color" look such as the kind used in the underpaintings of Vermeer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lady Apples

"Lady Apples and Kettle" 11"x14" on oil primed linen.
The apples have been left blank because I'm going to try and paint them in one go and I didn't want to wait for an underpainting to dry. I did a rough ebauche (colored underpainting) so that I would have some context with which to judge the color and value of the apples. Even though the ebauche is kind of sketchy looking the inked drawing that shows through it is pretty precise. If everything goes according to plan, once the apples are in I'll be able to slow it down a little. I also set up a different kind of lighting than my usual arrangement. I was at home depot the other day and I saw a plug strip with about six outlets that was laying flat on a table with six screw in light bulbs sticking up from it. The light bulbs were screwed into a plug that could be inserted into the strip. Some bells started going off in my head and I picked one up along with four daylight flourescent bulbs. I placed it on the table next to the still life, and I blocked off the glare of the direct light with black cardboard. It has pretty much the same look as when I was placing my setup next to my studio window except I can work on it at night. In this case I decided to go with a "rim lighting" effect which I discovered by accident when I put the lights on the table while trying to attach them to a beam above the table. It's always fun to try something a little different.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Anatomy Lesson

"Anatomy Lesson" oil on linen, 8"x10". I picked up this copy of Gray's Anatomy probably thirty years ago, when I was obsessed with the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and I fancied that I too would memorize every vein and muscle of the body.(oh to be young and idealistic!). I think I got the fake skull around the same time. It has a really nice patina, thirty years of dust, and I used to cover it with ketchup and scare my kids on Halloween.
I decided to make a black and white poster study as well as a color one. I was looking at the painting demo that Doug Flynt has posted on his website. www.DouglasFlynt.com and it got me to thinking about how these poster studies can be more than just an investigation of the values and colors but also a chance to think about the direction that the piece is headed in. What should be emphasized, what should be left out, etc; One of the things that I really like about Doug's work is the way that he judiciously uses his shadows to tie his design together. You can see that he very often will downplay the effect of reflected light and ambient light if it will strenthen the overall composition and keep the focus on the light areas.
I was thinking about that when I made the b&w poster study. You can see how the cast shadow of the book and it's form shadow merge into one strong, abstract shape, which also links up with the dark background.In the color study I tried to keep that unity but I felt like I could push the shadows towards a little more variation without killing the overall effect. I also tried really hard to keep the logic of the value scheme.(I have to purchase or make a black mirror. One of my former instructors told me how to make one out of a cd case but I can't remember what he said.)
In the final painting I found it really hard to resist the jewel like reflected light that was splashing up into the shadow side of the book. I did underplay the wash of light, as in my studies, that was falling onto the table cloth, to keep the light ascending, step like towards my center of interest.(Mr. Bones) The jury is still out on whether or not this trade off has hurt the design. I'll take a fresh look after I oil it out and decide then. The rule of thumb is easy "whatever doesn't help your painting, hurts your painting", making yourself an objective observer is another story.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Still More Mannequins

I finished covering the canvas today. I'll wait a few days, look at it with fresh eyes, and then I'll oil it out and tinker a little bit here and there. My goal is to get it right the first time, to keep it fresh, and to keep the paint skin all of a piece. It doesn't always work out that way, but for the way that I work, the best ones usually do.