Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 3

Set-up #2

Since I didn't care for the previous arrangement, I tried reversing the major elements...the unicord and the keyboard. I have put the unicord in shadow, which works very well as a lead-in on the left into the painting. It is a large object and by putting it in shadow, its impact is strong but subtle.

I still don't care for the bright light on the keyboard and the sheet music, so I will continue to rearrange the objects.

Another problem with this arrangement is that all the light and white objects are on the right and the darker wood-toned objects are on the left. They really should be better balanced with a better distribution of lights and darks.

I'll try again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 2

Setp-up #1

Setting up still life elements is the most important and challenging part of any still life painting. It is also the most creative. It is critical that the painting has good solid composition, depth, an entryway, a focal point, and an interesting color arrangement.

For the most part, these instruments are either black or in various wood tones. Add the white sheet music and off white of the drum, and it all becomes very monochromatic, if not boring. I introduced a blue drape backdrop, the blue matching the blue in the Portugese pitcher, adding some continuity. I particularly like these blue elements, as they complement the reddish brown tones in the woods.

In this first arrangement, I placed the keyboard on the left and the unicord on the right, with a jumble of the "tools" arranged in between them. I lit the still life lit from the left, which is my usual procedure. I didn't like all the light on the unicord nor all the light on the sheet music, and I felt the pitcher was getting too much attention.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Painting: Tools of the Trade, Step 1

Constructing the recorder

It has been several months since I demonstrated a painting here on this site. Mainly because I haven't done a major painting since I finished "Evening at Great Bend," which is now hanging at the University of Maryland University College Arts Program Gallery. It is in the Washington Society of Landscape Painters exhibition of Chesapeake Bay watershed properties. My painting of Great Bend PA is on the Susquehanna River on the PA/NY border. The source of the Chesapeake Bay reaches all the way into New York state past Binghamton, NY.

I have been busy giving workshops, participating in plein air competitions and events, and doing small paintings for various exhibits, which have all been rewarding and successful.

In between all of this, a friend asked me if I could do a still life of her musical "tools of the trade." She is a composer and music teacher and wanted to know if I could combine a number of her teaching instruments and music. After we reached an agreement, I went to her home to collect the "tools." What she couldn't lend me was her keyboard, because she wasn't sure when she might need it. But she did give me permission to demonstrate her painting on my blog.

But I came back to my studio with everything else: unicord with bow, gong, tambourine, buffalo drum with soft drumstick, temple bells, a maraca, tone blocks, wood blocks with drum sticks, triangle, bells on blue strap, bird whistles and some pages of her original music. She threw in a favorite pitcher from Portugal for color. In addition, she suggested I might include a recorder, but she didn't have one. But I did, and so you will see it included.

I laid all of these items on a table, and should have taken a picture of the cluttered area. It looked like no way was I going to make a painting out of all this.

Since I didn't have the keyboard, I figured I had to make a reasonable facsimile of one to use in my setup. So with two empty frame boxes taped together, some black and white paper, and a black marker, I made the "keyboard" shown above.