Sunday, September 24, 2017

Great-Grandma's Chair, Step 5

Painting the quilt

As I said previously, I coded the patches in the quilt, which is one of the smartest things I've done. I would be totally lost, if I hadn't. I started in the shadow area, and worked my way down and then back up the far side. Almost all the patches are different and in different colors, so I spent a lot of time mixing paint and cleaning brushes. 

Now that I'm this far, I think I will adjust the bottom part of the quilt and wrap it around in front of the chair leg, so that the leg doesn't go off the bottom of the canvas. I don't like the angle that is created by the edge of the quilt and the chair leg. It will help to keep the viewer's eye in the painting.

Painting the quilt

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Great-Grandma's Chair, Step 4

Stone wall and floor

Working back to front, I started on the stone wall. I have included a reference photo of the fireplace wall from which I worked. These are photos that I took at my client's home. It's beautiful stone, and I believe she said her husband had built it and done all the masonry. 

As I said in the previous post, I didn't think I needed to draw it in burnt umber, so I just put out my paints and drew the stone and painted it all at the same time.
Reference photo for stone wall background

 I tried to follow the shapes and colors the best I could. This picture shows the stone wall a bit cooler than I actually painted it, but that's easy to fix when I'm done with a glaze of a warm color. You can probably pick out which stones I used...mostly the ones on the left.

When I painted the cast shadows from the legs, I took quite a bit of time making sure that the edges were very soft. And when I got this far, I realized the drawing of the chair legs are a bit off, but I'll fix that later.
The stone wall and floor painted in.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Great-Grandma's Chair, Step 3

The burnt-umber underpainting

The next step was to get rid of the charcoal and make the drawing permanent with burnt umber.  So with a rag in my left hand and the brush in my right, I very carefully wipe off the charcoal, just a little bit at a time, and then paint in the lines. Getting charcoal into the paint is a big no-no. Then I added some values following the original photo. I now have a good sense of where I am going.

I decided to deal with the stone fireplace later with paint.

The burnt-umber underpainting

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great-Grandma's Chair, Step 2

The Drawing

I printed out the picture onto plain bond paper, painted in a suggestion of the stone fireplace background and the floor. Then I taped a piece of Saran wrap across it, and very carefully made a grid with 20 equal sections across the top and 28 down the side to correspond to my 20 x 28 inch canvas. I used a fine black permanent marker for the lines, and marked the columns accordingly. 

The gridded sketch
The 20 x 28 canvas is not a standard size, so I made one by stretching Belgium linen onto stretcher bars, adding two coats of rabbit skin glue, followed by three coats of acrylic gesso. (I'm making that sound a lot simpler than it is.) Then I toned the canvas with burnt sienna, and with soft charcoal, gridded the canvas. Now it corresponds with the gridded sketch above. 

The toned and gridded linen

Then square by square, I transferred the image from the gridded sketch to the gridded canvas, again using soft vine charcoal. Since the quilt is so complicated, you can see where I put some letters in to identify the quilt patches: P for pink, G for green, B for blue, and so on.  I was bound to get totally lost if I didn't do that.  

The charcoal drawing

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Great-Grandma's Chair, Step 1

The Commission Preliminaries

A collector has commissioned me to do a painting of her great-grandmother's chair, including her grandmother's sewing box and a quilt she had made. In our preliminary meeting, we decided to use the stone wall around the fireplace as the background. I took many pictures, but ultimately I knew I had to bring the chair, the sewing box, and the quilt home with me so I could set it up in my studio. We decided that the painting would be a vertical 28 x 20, and we will put a 2" black frame around it. It already has a special corner in her house waiting for the painting.

Usually the set-up takes the most time, with a lot of rearranging and positioning the props just so.  In any painting, the composition is the most important thing, so I wanted everything to flow well, with the light that I had available to me. In a corner of my studio, I placed the chair on a still life box balanced on an old TV table so I could get it at the right height, then draped the quilt over one corner of it. I arranged the sewing basket two ways, as you can see below. The customer chose the second one which is the one that worked better.

The items in the sewing box will be rearranged many times, until I get them exactly the way I want them  My customer is adding her grandmother's New Testament bible as well.  Right now my focus is on the overall composition, and I will deal with the details later. 

This option doesn't work too well, as both the chair and the sewing basket face to the right, and there's no way for the viewer's eye to get back into the painting.

This one works better since the sewing basket faces back into the painting and helps redirect the viewer's eye.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nature's Bounty, the final step

Finishing it up

As I said in the previous post, I had to do something to break up the static oval shape of the center wagon wheel, so I have added a lot of clumps of grass, some of which break up those lines. Those clumps also make the scene more natural looking.

You can see what a tremendous difference that makes. I'm happy with it now.  

Nature's Bounty, 16 x 20, oil on linen

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Nature's Bounty, Step 6

Refining unfinished areas

Starting again in the background, I have brightened up the valley a bit, refined the trees on both sides of the wagon, developed the ground with some areas of grass and contrasted the shadow pattern in the dirt area. My idea here is to get the sun shining on the wagon and it's flowers.

So I have added brighter lights to the  wagon and flowers, and some cascading white blossoms to the back of the wagon, which will help bring your eye into the rest of the flowers. In composing any painting, it is important for the artist to guide the viewer's eye around the painting so that the viewer will see everything. The artist is like a movie director in that way.

I have also added a little bird on one of the wagon rails to move your eye in that direction.

I'm still bothered by the center wagon wheel staring me in the face, so I will have to come up with a solution. It's distracting as any geometric shape is: a square, a triangle, a circle, and in this case, a perfect oval.  Not good.  The viewer's eye gets into these shapes and goes round and round and round and can't get out.