Wednesday, August 24, 2011

another still life : "hey, that's jim's duck"

while i was on a roll i decided to do another still life before i put the setups away and returned to decoys to their rightful owners. this one i think will be done with a little more limited palette and in the portrait format. here is the set up:
as you can see i put the light source behind and to the left of the set up. i also drew in a window frame to suggest a source of the light (outside window). when i set these up i try to make it very informal...sort of like what one might see on a table top as they walk around their home. just stuff left around waiting to be put away, etc.

i started by clipping a piece of 16"X20" fabriano artistico 140# cold press paper to a couple of pieces of foam core and using a modified (i look at the drawing form time to time) contour drawing technique put the image of the set up on the paper in the portrait configuration. i got pretty carried away with the painting part so there aren't many step by step sequences to share with you. i can say that i painted the mug and saucer first with cobalt blue and burnt sienna using a #10 round brush and the left edge of the mason jar with cerulean blue. i worked on the flowers some at that point using the same brush and my usual gray mixture of cerulean blue, alizarin crimson perm,. and raw sienna for the shadow shapes among the white flowers. these are almost back lit so i wanted some crisp white edges abutting the gray shadow areas. the center stamens were scratched out with a palette knife at the stage where the wash had just lost its sheen. when those dried sufficiently i put in the orange dots for their ends. the simpler shaped apple blossoms were modeled the same way but the center dark area was painted using hooker's green and burnt umber. i tried to arrange to lose the edges of the flowers on their shadow side as they came up against a like-valued dark deeper in the bouquet. the green leaves of the apple twigs were painted with olive green and quinacridone gold and the stems were painted in wet-in-wet with brown madder. the window frame will be various values of the gray mixture mentioned above. i started on the duck decoys back to define the right side of the mason jar and i wanted to make this more "rustic" than the previous rendering, so i let the colors mingle on the paper, left some whitish area, and scratched in a few lines. hopefully this will read as "old and abused." we'll see. a couple of last comments before i close for the day. i think the stems in the jar/water should be mostly hard edges. i sometimes see artists do these more wet-in-wet and then i don't feel that they read much more than a large blob. the wash on the orange id way too light but i wanted to see if the orange would work here at all. i think i will so i will paint i properly at a later date. the "outside" i am suggesting by a high valued, splattered, scumbled area of barely mixed cerulean blue and cadmium yellow medium. i think you can tell what i did on the mustard jar without iteration here. remember cast shadows right away.


  1. Bob, this is looking great! Makes me want to set up a still life and give it a go. I usually do faces but I'm feeling the need for a break from that just now.

  2. thanks again for the encouragement, dena. i, too, paint a lot of faces, but started painting initially by doing the still life. i had a book on painting flowers and quickly figured out that if one used artificial flowers and not-yet-ripe fruit, it would be ready for me any time. it wouldn't wilt, walk away, or rot (too quickly). none of which can be said for the more fickle human models! so, go for it. in many ways they offer more "problems" than faces for me. and i likes me problems! i have to as i paint myself into them so frequently. sigh. hope you like the finish as much as the beginning.