Sunday, September 23, 2012


After a few weeks of focusing on my first still life, I felt the vacuum upon calling it done. I did have a couple of limited palette charts that needed wrapping up.

In this first chart the center row contains the starting pigments. Columns 1, 4, and 7 are the tubed colors, others being mixed neighbors. Kind of amazing the color range!

Yellow Ochre, Ercolano Red, Ultramarine Blue
Mixed with Vine Black or Titanium White

This second chart is certainly a more subdued version and seeing that I used Vine Black for blue, I left out darkening with black, going only for tints with Titanium White. It might sound odd but I can stare at these charts for the longest time, imaging the worlds that could be built with such a humble set of pigments.

Lemon Ochre, Burnt Umber Reddish, Vine Black
Mixed with Titanium White

In an effort to keep work ahead of me, I started a couple of studies. This first is based on an painting by Adriaen Coorte. Many of his paintings make use of a table top, mostly of stone. I like his warm/cool methods and I'm trying to apply them here. Next I will straighten my edges (they were hand painted, no tapes or tools) and then paint in some sea shells.

Raw Umber Green Dark, Burnt Umber Cyprus Dark

I'd painted this portion of a Luis Melendez painting some time ago. Now I'm retrying it using a method that I am picking up second hand from an artist friend studying in a local atelier. The surface is first coated with Burnt Umber Cypress Dark thinned with OMS. Form is developed by rubbing out with a rag in my hand, a rag over my finger, and a cotton swab. In some cases I have to pick up the brush and reapply pigment. It's really quite thrilling to see an image begin to appear out of the darkness. I wanted to push this further but by 2 AM I was fading and knew this umber would be dry when I woke.

Rub out technique.
Burnt Umber Cyprus Dark

So now I have two pieces in my queue and I'm working on laying out another Melendez copy piece. By the way, I've jumped away from smooth panels--birch plywood, GAC 100, acrylic gesso--and switched to linen. The charts are on linen pads, the paintings on linen panels. Both products are Centurion OP DLX, deluxe oil primed linen. I enjoy the grab of the canvas against my brush and paint. Additionally, the rub out technique needs the linen's texture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My First Still Life

I've been hunkered down with this piece for the past three weeks. I first built a composition with natural light, photographed, and printed out various tonal arrangements to help me set values. With the exception of titanium white and ultramarine blue mixed with burnt umber for the deepest shadow, the oil-based pigments are earths--ochres, umbers and green earth.

After the first week or so I might have stopped. Rather, each evening I'd poke about with new ideas. Curiously, a change in one spot might reverberate calling for updates in other areas. An often felt example was that of making a change on a single clove in that bulb of garlic and how it would disturb the overall form of the bulb. All in all, just a wonderful learning experience.

The surface is very shiny at this point, making it tough to photograph. I took advantage of filtered overcast sky to work around the glare and this photo is reasonably close, albeit with a bit of value and hue shifts.