Sunday, March 11, 2012

Still-life month

So I have decided to take a break from attempting big figurative paintings and getting frustrated. I know I can do them but the battle to correct my stupid mistakes is really silly. So for this month I am only going to work on small still-life paintings from life. The idea is that a) I never worked from life enough for it to really influence my knowledge of light, color nuances, form, etc b) I have a few bad habits that I need to break out of NOW if I want to be serious about making art a career, and c) discipline. I'm reading James Gurney's Color and Light book and using it as a guide on this journey (ha). The three individual objects are done alla prima in one evening and before I get to work I sit in front of the object and pre-mix four strings of colors with my handy palette knife. Lots of artists do this and it helps simplify the madness that is color, but it also helps maintain a sense of freshness without mixing color piles of useless paint. Pre-mixing is not my preferred method as I really enjoy the happy accidents of mixing with a brush, but this always leads to me mixing bad colors since I don't quite get it just yet. I've noticed that my color tends to look dull and life-less because I struggle mixing the right value and temperature of a certain hue. I will produce at least three smallish paintings a week and one mid-size one. For these four paintings I set up the light coming from the left either from above at an angle or lower down so that it looks like it's hitting it straight on. I was looking for interesting ways to play with the shadow. The light in these works is a yellowish "natural light" bulb or something like that so the lit area is usually really warm. This week I want to switch the bulb with a florescent one to cast a pale bluish light on some of the same objects, and will probably be working like this for all the paintings I do.
This was the first one I did last tuesday evening. It was drawn from life beforehand as a drawing demo for a private student, then photocopied and mounted onto the masonite panel as a demo of the Donato mounting for my oil painting students. I've had this t-rex skull for 3 1/2 years and it has never been used for anything but a handy decorative dust gatherer in my studio.
This is a plastic prop squash we have at the museum that I borrowed on Thursday evening to paint. I've always loved the color and so voila! I painted it.
Here we have a horseshoe crab shell I found at the beach over the summer with a group of friends. This one was particularly tough considering how low key and muted the colors were. It was tricky making the light side seem illuminated but I finally got it after knocking back the chroma of the surrounding area with some neutrals.
Last night I arranged these objects, all museum borrowed, and there are some dried up flower thingies in the front that aren't painted in yet. I drew it last night and did a wash of values before I went to bed and this morning I did a first pass color block-in. Tonight or tomorrow I'll finish it off. I welcome all critiques and helpful tips on anything you see or notice. Thank you all!