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Sketching Before Breakfast #3 Mystery Pears and More

Two pears and an apple on breakfast table; morning sketch in Procreate on the iPad.
Two pears and an apple on breakfast table; morning sketch in Procreate on the iPad.

And we have more morning sketches. I was really trying to force myself to stick to 3 values for each object. My glass-topped table is so great with its frosted glass square design elements and reflections.

Unfinished sketch of bananas and lemon on the table
Unfinished sketch of bananas and lemon on the table
Super quick sketch done on Procreate on my iPhone with my finger, barely had a minute to draw but didn't want to lose momentum.
Super quick sketch done on Procreate on my iPhone with my finger, barely had a minute to draw but didn’t want to lose momentum.
Art theory Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Two Apples and a Pear (Moving on from Munsell)

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).

Art supplies Art theory Oil Painting Painting Still Life

My Oil Painting Breakthrough: Striving Pears and Peggi Kroll-Roberts

Striving Pears, Oil on Gessobord, 6x6"
Striving Pears, Oil on gesso board, 6x6"

My friend Kathryn Law wrote on her blog about the workshop she took with Peggi Kroll-Roberts and about Peggi’s instructional DVDs. The videos focus on the things I most wanted to learn, especially creating strong value patterns and making rich painterly brush strokes, along with loosening up and having fun. I ordered the videos and watched them. Wow!

The Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” is so true. I had to have tried and given up on so many other approaches to oil painting to become very clear on what I didn’t want, what I did want (working with the freedom and looseness I have when I sketch) and what I needed to get there (all the things Peggi teaches).

Watching Peggi demonstrate and explain what she’s thinking and doing as she does it is such a rare ability in painting teachers in my experience. Her videos answered many questions I’ve had for so long. I’ve read dozens of books and gotten great advice from artist friends, but until I watched Peggi’s videos, I just didn’t get it.

I’d almost given up oil painting in frustration but now… Yippee! Oil painting is fun again!

About the painting:

While bosc pears aren’t as pretty or colorful as other types, when I saw the way they were sitting in their container, one seeming like it was “striving” to reach, copy, or catch up with the other, I had to paint them. I used the techniques/tools I learned in Peggi’s videos and really enjoyed the painting process (and the results).

Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Junior High Pear-ings

Junior High Pearings, Oil on Gessoboard, 9x12"
Junior High Pearings, Oil on Gessoboard, 9x12"

I’m guilty of anthropomorphizing when I draw or paint. I always seem to see human shapes or body parts in inanimate objects. I see tongues, hips, elbows and other body parts in flowers, plants, fruit or even lampposts.

So when I set up this still life, the two paired pears with one alone behind them reminded me of junior high, when two girls would whisper to each other about another, who would be left out of the conversation. Sometimes I was one of the gossipy whisperers; just as often I was the one left out.

Girls having a sleep-over would phone a friend and try to get her to say mean things about someone who was there, secretly listening in. Then after she’d said, “Mary’s butt is too big,” Mary would speak up and say, “Hi, This is Mary. Thanks a lot!” The next week it might work the other way around.

I learned the hard way not to say things about people which I wouldn’t want them to hear. The lesson gets reinforced regularly by a weird sort of karma that happens to me. It almost never fails that if I do speak about another, they unexpectedly appear, often from behind me, just like in the painting.

About the painting

I painted this on a day when I just had a couple hours and wanted to paint with oils. I didn’t take time to plan the composition and did very little with the set up, originally using my black light box as the background. This is how it looked originally before I revised the background, made some adjustments between the two front pears, and glazed the painting with Indian Yellow.

Pears-Original painting
Pears-Original painting

I thought the original version seemed cold and uninviting. I like it better now, with the softer, warmer feel and the rounded shape of the “table top” instead of the harsh horizontal line.

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Sweet Pears and a Buzz with Busby

Pears on a Blue Plate, ink and gouache
Pears on a Blue Plate, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and gouache, 7x5"

In the week and half since I gave up sugar and Splenda, pears have become my new treat. Not only are they crispy, sweet and delicious but they come in such pretty colors too. This sketch is a celebration of their gifts.

But meanwhile, giving up coffee didn’t go as well….

Busby and the Coffee Buzz
Busby and the Coffee Buzz

After five days of feeling wiped out, depressed, listless and witless I couldn’t take it anymore and finally had half a cup of coffee.  That’s all it took: within a few minutes I was back to my old inspired self again and the blues were gone. Yay!

Maybe I’ll try to quit caffeine when I’m retired in a few years, but for now, each day is too precious to spend feeling like a zombie.