Saturday, February 26, 2011

Inspirations, step 1

The sightsize set-up

For a long time I have wanted to do a painting featuring a violin. I have borrowed one for this purpose. While I was at it, I thought a painting celebrating different art forms might be interesting and fun.

I propped up the violin across some antique books and placed a figurine in the background. I didn't want it too prominent because it is white, so I have it mostly in shadow. A small Degas print of his "Rehearsal" is framed and hanging. On the books is an antique inkwell substitute with a feather quill. Actually it is a palette cup for holding turps. Right now the quill is a peacock feather which is all I have. At some point, I'll either get to an antique store or wing it (pardon the pun).

Arranging the paint tubes was a real challenge. At first I didn't even think I wanted them, but so far I like them. Inserting the brushes under the violin was easy. When I paint, I will ignore them, but for now, it reminds of where I'm going. The still life set-up when complete needs to look like it was very casually put together, even thought it might have taken hours and is very contrived.

For instance, my figurine wasn't tall enough to suit me, so I have it propped up on a bunch of old casette tapes.

Below is my sight-size layout with my easel exactly next to my setup. I stand back from them about eight feet, from where I can see them both at the same time. The idea is that the drawing matches the set-up. It is easy to draw this way because the measuring is one on one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, last step

The final painting

I won't tell you how many times I drew and redrew the glasses. I lost track. They are the most difficult things I have ever drawn in my life. The lens are not oval, nor are they parallel with each other. Each one is decidedly different.

As I was redrawing the glasses I discovered that the book wasn't right. So I had to redraw and repaint it as well. Nothing is ever easy! But it's done and I am happy with the painting. I think it is elegant and classy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 9

Finishing the painting, step 5

Finally I was able to add some of the interesting details and finishing touches. It was imperative to finish the open book before I laid the glasses on top of it.

Across the pages, I suggested the type, carefully lining up the lines and indicating paragraphs in perspective. I added type to the wine labels, and painted the defining shapes of the cut crystal on the side of the wine glass.

I worked more on the cloth, on the shadow color and defined the cutwork more.

I'm ready for the glasses now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 8

Finishing the painting, step 4

After much deliberating, I finally settled on this cloth which has just a little detail. The problem was that the other cloth was in the setup. So I had to VERY CAREFULLY fold back the original cloth and add this one on top of it. Before I moved anything, I marked with masking tape where the open book was and drew a circle with pencil on the cloth at the base of the wine glass.

The detail adds enough interest to the cloth to keep it from being boring. When I was finished with the cloth, I removed it and replaced the book and the wine glass according to my markings.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 7

Finishing the painting, step 3

To the book spines, I added more highlights and a shiny white area to show the reflectiveness of the smooth leather.

The wine glass was a bit askew, so I spent some time redrawing it. It really does have to be perfect. I added color to the wine, and a few highlights to the back part of the glass to give it shape and dimension. I'll wait until the wine is dry before adding the details of the cut crystal.

Back to the cloth, I wiped out the suggested hem that was there in the previous step. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do but I have spent lots of hours in my house looking for suitable cloths.

I began developing the's a design from a piece of furniture in my house. I like the hinge on the cabinet's a nice lead in to the picture.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 6

Finishing the paintings, step 2

To the sides of the pages of the open book, I added some color. These color edges are important as they introduce some color into the middle of the painting. I'm not finished with that part, they still need to be defined more carefully. Constantly, I have to keep in mind that on top of the book are the antique reading glasses. Though they aren't in a color, they will still add a lot of interest.

Then I tackled the cloth. I'm not really happy with's kind of uninteresting. I need something there that's somewhat classy, but at the same time, not fussy or screaming for attention. I'll have to think about it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quiet Pleasures, step 5

Finishing the painting, step 1

Working dark to light, I went over the background again, then onto the wine bottle. With thalo green and quinacridone red, I refined the bottle and added some reflections and highlights. Then I straightened the shape of the label and shaped the cork and red wrapper and added some highlights.

Moving onto the books, I first tightened up the drawing, especially the top areas where you can see just a smidge of the pages. The perspective must be correct. When repainting this area, I redefined the edges of the leather covers showing how the light hits just a few spots. Then I painted a base color on the dark side of the right-hand book, and with a rigger-like brush, I quickly danced the soft bristles over the area to come up with an arbitrary pattern reminiscent of the pattern on the original book.

Still working on the books, I did more detail on both spines, paying particular attention to the areas where the leather binding was torn and ratty. I really love painting details like's fun to get the torn edges and textures just right.

Unfortunately, I seem unable to figure out exactly how everything is going to turn out before I start painting a still life. I spend a lot of time on a set-up, but it never seems to be the absolute final design. I'll keep tweaking it, rearranging one thing or another. That's the point where I say I let the painting tell me what it needs. It is advantageous to put the painting out of sight for a few days and then look at it again. Often little things that didn't bother me before now scream at me!