Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bottle tops

When one is doing a still life and there are various
things in it, most of us work to get the shapes and
proportions right. But that is not where it should
After getting all that down in the best way you can,
take care to focus in on the details and really confront
what is there. I have seen many students just sort of
toss on a suggestion a bottle top.
So really confront the contours of it - the perspective
of the cylindrical opening and what part of the back
ring comes around into the curves in the front.
And if the bottle top is below your eye level, as in
this photograph, really get the curves right so it looks

Friday, March 20, 2009

Make a personal color chart

I have so many tubes of oil paint that I finally decided to make the chart you see here.
I got out all my tubes of paint (of course now I have even more!) and laid them out in color groups. I then arranged them in the color order I wanted.
Next I counted them and decided on the size canvas I needed to fit them all in.
This is an 18 x 24 inch canvas and the sections are 2 x 2.
Then I used a small oval shaped painting knife to apply the paint.
There is first the mass tone (the paint straight out of the tube) followed by a middle tone and then a very pale tone of the color. I used Titanium white.
If you have way too many colors to really know what they look like,
do this for reference.
There are about 6 difference brands here, but mostly Winsor and Newton.
I have a key in the lower right hand corner, so do allow for that.
Browns and greys are on a separate canvas.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Painting in one color

A while ago I decided to set myself a
painting challenge. Paint a set up that
had objects and background of all one

This was the result of that endeavor.
I found that it was more important than
ever to have the tones or values correct.
And then I just couldn't resist little touches
of other colors in adding the marbles.
What do you think?

What to do if you can't leave a set-up up!

#1 is a front shot of the set-up.
#2 is a shot of the set-up with where the light is.
#3 is an overhead shot of the set-up.

If you can't leave a set-up in place, take these
photos. I do this for my students because they
have to take down their arrangements in between

TIPS: Do NOT use a flash. You want to get the
lighting correct in terms of how the set-up
is actually lit.

Put pieces of tape on the floor for each item
(the light, easel and table). You may have to
move them around in between painting sessions.
This way you can mark the positions for easy
re-locating of their original positions. If you need
to, write on the tape which pieces of tape are
for what item!

Do shoot a photo from above so you can see the
distances that things are from each other. It is
difficult to tell when only having made a front
photo shot. When setting up the arrangement
again, lay that photo on the table and make your
things match what you see in the photo!

Remember that these are reference photos, and
are never the same as looking at the real things
with its actual lighting and color. So don't paint
from the photos you took of such a set-up. Paint
from life!

And last of all, know that as carefully as you do this,
the painting gremlins will conspire to have something
not quite as it was, no matter what you do!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tubes of Paint

First I have to admit that these are not my paints,
even though I have this many and probably more!
I have amassed quite a large collection and finally
had to do something to help me see what I actually
had so I could use them more effectively. It's a little
like having clothes at the back of your closet that
you never see, and so you never wear them!
I did two things to help me. One is that I made a
big color chart, adding white to each color so I could
really see it's true color. And then I divided each of
6 main color groups up so I could FIND what I was
looking for! (The 3 primaries and the 3 secondary
colors = 6!)
I will speak more on this later. By the way, these
paints belong to one of my students who bought many
of them, if not all, from Ebay for a GREAT price!

Fan Brushes

Fan brushes have their special uses. You will see from
this photo that there are not only various sizes, but they
are made from different things. The top one is a bristle
brush and because it is stiff (hog bristles are definitely
sturdy and stiff), it will drag more paint. The bottom one
is badger hair and is soft and is great for blending. The one
in the middle is a tiny thing that is just right for small
works. It has synthetic hair and is very soft.
Fan brushes are a sort of novelty when you see them in
the bins at the art store. But what you don't want to see
in your paintings is the tell tale strokes that say 'look,
I used a fan brush!'.
I suggest experimenting with the various types. Get a
stiff bristle one and a soft-haired one. Try out some
things with it. You can get really good effects with just
dabbing the tips, or you can pull paint in a direction that
contributes to making that cloth look as though it is falling
over the table edge.