This post is a long, detailed one about my struggle with painting a still-life set-up, and since it’s more about the technical aspects of it, I don’t know if anyone (non-painter) would find it interesting to read. I have had the idea of writing about my art processes for a while, but after working on a painting I tend to be too tired to write about it.
It’s probably pretty boring to read about, but maybe writing about it will help me remember what I’ve learned. I need to get more concise, though, because I’m not going to want to read through a 1,000+ word blog post to remind myself of things I learned. 😛
I think I will re-post it to my art blog. (I started that blog a while back, but haven’t posted much to it. I haven’t got the format how I want it yet, as the picture previews from the posts aren’t working like they should.)
I’ve been bummed about how my artwork practice has been going lately, but today was better.
It’s not that today’s painting attempt was so was so wonderful, but I felt encouraged. I tried a new arrangement which worked a little better, it had more of a variety of colors, and I was able to paint a little more loosely instead of obsessing over each color tone being exactly right. I feel encouraged that I can, eventually, make some progress–I feel like there is a way to get out of the rut. I started to ease out of that rut today.
When I attempt to paint something, I have been feeling like I just don’t know how to do it. What happened to my eager enthusiasm and confidence that I could paint anything? I used to feel that as long as there was good lighting, I could paint anything. All I had to do was look at the color tones, mix up those colors and I was good to go. (This may be my selective memory.) But lately, I can’t tell what the right color tone is.
For instance, my current set-up has a vase, some drapery (a blue T-shirt as the “ground” color and some other fabrics draped in the background) and two nectarines. I can’t tell what colors to use for the vase–it’s a creamy off-white color, but more bluish or grayish in some spots, or greenish, or yellowish where the light hits it. I can see those subtle color shifts, but what exact color that translates into is perplexing. The color I used for the shaded side looks all wrong–too flat, not rich enough. The colors I’ve used for the mid-tones area all blend together into a whitish mud, instead of giving the impression of the shiny reflective ceramic it is. And the lit-up side of the vase looks very yellowish in comparison, but actually most of it is a more muted and greyed down yellow.
Then there’s the shiny, gold-colored rim around the top and bottom of the vase. That’s really throwing me for a loop! Where the light hits it, there’s some bright yellow, but the rest of the rim are subtle tones I can’t discern.
The nectarines are easier in one sense–there is very obvious red, yellow, and orange on them. It feels a bit more straightforward to begin finding the right color: squirt out some bright red, and some darker/cooler red (Alizarin Crimson), and make transitions between the two (with yellow, yellow ochre, and/or burnt sienna added to give more richness). However, there’s not a super clear lighting pattern on them. There’s a few highlights, yes; but the transition of the tones across the rest of the spherical shape is not so clear to me. I can easily make my nectarine look redder where the real one looks redder, and more orange or yellow where the real one looks orange or yellow–but how do I give it a sense of light, so it actually looks three-dimensional? Or as my art teacher would put it, “has a good sense of form”.
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