Materials · oil painting · Technique

Back to Basics

Whoo doggie! I decided I wanted to go back and try to build an oil painting the “proper” way. I have gotten away from doing a tonal study and gone straight to painting on a white panel after getting the drawing down. I wanted to see if I could get a more harmonious look… or if I even WANT a more harmonious feel.

So, I set up a simple (probably not simple enough) still life with a red box, a blue bowl, a green bottle, a lemon and a tomato. That way I’m covering all the color families and get more practice with color mixing.

I set up a studio light to get some decent shadow and highlight activity going.

I set up a cheap canvas covered panel – 9×12, and using burnt sienna, toned the canvas, wiped out the lights and darkened where the darks should be. I used a fairly large brush.  Basically got all the values as I wanted them to be.  The composition is not great, but this is just an exercise, so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Frankly, I think now that was a mistake because if the composition is not pleasing, the work is not pleasing to do.  I am reminded why I don’t enjoy painting on canvas and have switched over to Gessobord. I just don’t like the texture and hope as I continue to work, that this will give way to paint.

I let this tonal study sit overnight and came back and started working on the local colors. The blue bowl and green bottle worked pretty well. The red box got off track almost right away and the poor lemon and tomato were just awful!. The background (basically a piece of muslin drape) of course is picking up reflected light and giving reflected light and is therefore giving me it’s own set of fits.

I’m going back to it today and evaluate what I have learned so far…

No photos at this point… the ugly stage just is deeply depressing and I don’t want to share it. But I’m going to push through it and see if a second study works any better.

And somewhere in here, I need to paint another bird or two. There are several new ones down at the RAL Art Center, by the way, if you would like to see them in person.



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