This was my favorite oil painting experience ever. It was one of those paintings where everything just came together. Yay!
I painted it from life in two afternoons. I think what led to my success was that first I got the drawing right and then I just put the paint down and left it, doing very little touching up and/or correcting (aka overworking).
Below are a few photos of the setup and the beginnings of the work in progress.
My grandmother ironed everything including underwear and sheets! Doing laundry was a major project. My mother bought her a dryer but she refused to use it, preferring to hang everything out to dry on the backyard clothesline. She dragged her wheeled canvas laundry cart with a big pocket for wooden clothespins (see sketch below) down the stairs and then pinned everything up to dry in the sun.
Before she ironed she sprinkled the stiff, dry laundry with water, using her special sprinkler cork (in painting above) stuffed in a bottle. Steam irons made laundry sprinklers obsolete but I wanted to honor this artifact of my grandma’s life in a painting. A few years ago I also made this sketch of her hanging laundry (below). I always loved playing with the clothespins and hanging out with my sweet grandma on laundry day.
Here is a photo of the setup (which I painted from life, not from the photo).
I’ve spent the past few months studying Munsell color notation and color mixing with Paul Foxton. My goal was to learn to discern value and color more accurately and to be able to efficiently mix those colors in paint. I’ve posted some of my course studies below. The above painting was done outside of the course, and doesn’t represent what is taught in the course. It is just a fun little alla prima still life, done before taking down my shadow box and lighting set up used in the course. I learned so many important things in the class. I think the number one thing I learned is how much lower chroma (aka less saturation/vibrant) most things are. Most things, including people, are much less colorful than I thought. Also, regardless of race, we humans are all low chroma orange (or as Munsell would have it, Yellow-Red).
I painted this a couple of months ago and I’m finally getting around to posting it. I was focusing on composition and just having some fun with color. and shapes. The gray/black stair-step shape in the back is styrofoam packing material. Below are the steps in the process of the painting.
This is one in a series of paintings of free stuff and things found on the street during my walks in the Berkeley, California area. The little apples had fallen from a neighbor’s tree and the candlestick was in a free box on the curb. Below are photos of some steps in the work in progress of this painting (which is available to purchase from my Daily Paintworks gallery here) and a couple of cool studio tips too.
This is one of those zombie paintings that despite my best efforts to kill it, just wouldn’t die. I painted it again and again, changing the background colors, the shapes of the apples, the colors of the apples, the shadow shapes and colors. And in between painting sessions it sat there on my easel taunting me.
I was determined to finish it today no matter what. So I photographed it, imported it into Photoshop and experimented there with colors and shape variations until I found a scheme I liked. Then I applied those changes in paint on my canvas. (I was tired of the actual background colors which were the same as Apples, Delicious.)
Update 6/12: I asked a friend to be an innocent bystander and give me his honest opinion of the painting still on the easel. He said, “Uh, well…what are they?” When I said apples he said “Really? They don’t look like apples. But I like the red color.” FAIL? Yes.
It’s probably better to make many paintings instead of getting stuck painting the same one multiple times. But I get determined to figure out what is making me unhappy with a painting and to try to resolve the problems. Sometimes I discover there’s a fatal flaw in the composition or drawing that can’t be fixed with paint (and I fear this is one of those?). Then I just try to learn from that mistake for the next time and accept I’ve gone as far as I can.
I’d like to give the apples one more try (on a fresh canvas), to see if after all this practice I can do a fresh, quick painting that flows instead of lurches along in true zombie fashion.