Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Daily Painting Practice - Beginning a new still life
I have been teaching a daily painting class at the Joslyn Museum of Art here in Omaha, once a week for the past few weeks. I enjoy teaching, especially to people who are enthusiastic about trying to learn new methods. Since I am teaching a method that focuses on keeping the shadow areas thin and transparent and the light areas thicker and opaque, I thought I should do a painting following my own advice.
I started with a toned canvas. I toned it with the gesso and marble dust mixture I had leftover from my attempts to make panels for pastel painting. (see old post here) I had added some acrylic paint and it made this wonderful purple/grey/pink color. The marble dust gives the surface a smooth mat finish. I like it much better than the plastic feel of gesso alone.
After transferring my drawing, I started painting with a very dry brush using Burnt Umber. Keep the paint as thin as possible. Think of breathing on a mirror. You want your paint to be as thin as your breathe is when it fogs up the mirror. Keep it dry or only use turps to make very thin washes, like watercolor.
I am only using Burnt Umber and Naples Yellow.
Step two, I go back in and punch up the darks. I keep talking to myself, "Keep the darks thin and transparent" I sound like a monk chanting in my basement.
Here is a detail of the next stage where I start adding a small amount of color and the paint begins to get thicker....but only a little bit. I started using some Pthalo Blue and some Burnt Sienna and just a smidge of White added to the Naples Yellow for the edge of the plate.
I like the idea of letting it dry over night at this point and checking it again tomorrow. I'll start refining the drawing in little increments. Keep an eye on all the edges. It is important to make sure all edges are soft at this point. No hard lines. Use thin muted colors, and no opaque paint in the shadows.
I think I am off to a pretty good start.