Oil Painting Still Life

Queen Pomegranate and Princess Persimmon (Painted Thrice)

Queen Pom and Princess Persimmon, oil on panel, 8x8"
Queen Pom and Princess Persimmon, oil on panel, 8×8 inches (Available to purchase here)

There was something regal about these two, hence the name, despite the queen sitting in a soap dish, not a throne. I started out thinking “values and planes” and then, as usual, got seduced by color and detail. I did manage to keep some of the planes I saw in this pomegranate (which was becoming more faceted as it became more elderly, having been painted a few times over the past couple weeks). However, I’m not sure the painting actually benefitted from leaving the planes (or so many of them) visible.

Below is a photo of the set up and below that the two previous pom/persimmon paintings that were a nice warmup and introduction to the subject, though perhaps not terribly successful in terms of paint application, composition and/or drawing.

Photo of setup for Queen Pom
Photo of setup for Queen Pom
4 Poms on a Black Plate, oil on panel, 8x10"
4 Poms on a Black Plate, oil on panel, 8×10″
3 Poms on a Black Box, oil on panel, 8x10"
3 Poms on a Black Box, oil on panel, 8×10″
3 Poms on a Box painting on easel and still life set up
3 Poms on a Box painting on easel and still life set up
Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Pomegranates and Wine Corks

Pomegranates and Corks, oil still life on panel, 10x8"
Pomegranates and Corks, oil still life on linen panel, 10×8″

I’m still having fun painting poms and trying to understand them. Below is the process I used, with photos of the set up. I like starting with a Pitt pastel pencil to sketch in the composition and then go to thinned down transparent oil paint.

I’ve switched back to working on panels again from paper in order to have a slicker surface that allows wiping off more easily than the Arches Oil Paper which is very absorbent.

This painting is available. Click for purchase info on my DailyPaintworks Gallery.

Oil Painting Painting Sketchbook Pages Still Life

Pomegranate, Persimmons and a Brick

Pomegranate, Persimmons, Brick, Oil on Arches Oil Paper, 10x10"
Pomegranate, Persimmons, Brick, Oil on Arches Oil Paper, 10×10″

(SOLD) This painting went through so many changes. I started it before I got the awful cold that kept me out of the studio for over a week. I lost my focus while painting the cloth draped in the background and at the end of the day scraped off the afternoon’s work. When I came back the next day, my foam core shadow box had collapsed and was on the floor along with the drapery and the LED light that I’d perched atop on a piece of plexiglass. Fortunately the brick held steady as did the fruit.

That accident gave me the opportunity to try a different background. I removed the white paper I’d been using to cover the black walls of the shadow box and painted the now darker background. I had fun painting the persimmons and the brick and I think I did a good job understanding them; the pom not so much. It  should have a more geometric, boxy shape, not be so rounded.

Below are the stages in trying to get this thing painted, along with the set up as it changed. Click on an image to see full picture, scroll over images to read captions.


Lighting Oil Painting Painting Still Life Studio

Pomegranate Pom-apalooza

Pomegranate Revealed, oil on board, 9x12"
Pomegranate Revealed, oil on board, 9x12"

Happy New Year! Thanks for hanging out with me this past year! Even though I’ve had a nasty cold all week I managed to get in some pomegranate painting between nose blowing, naps, and chicken soup breaks, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped to do over my year-end vacation.

Pomegranate value study in oils
Pomegranate value study in oils, 8x5"

I only had enough energy to be in the studio for a couple of hours a day but fortunately the pom waited nicely for me. I started by doing a value study in oils (above), trying to sort out where the darkest darks and lightest lights are and just how dark and light they are.

Pomegranate quick study, oil on board, 5x7"
Pomegranate quick study, oil on board, 5x7"

I did a small study next since I knew I didn’t have more than an hour or so of painting energy. I had fun with this and feel like I’m starting to find a way to get loose and sketchy with oils.

Pom photo under Reveal bulb
Pom under Reveal bulb

I used a GE Reveal light bulb in my lamp which gave everything a pinkish-lavender cast and that’s why I named the painting “Pomegranate Revealed.” GE says they are “specially made to filter out the dull yellow rays produced by standard incandescent bulbs.” I’d bought it originally thinking it would simulate daylight but it doesn’t at all. I usually use a fluorescent 5000K bulb 40 watt bulb (equal to 150 watts) which does a better job of producing clean light.

Pomegranate Revealed - Cropped to 8x10"
Cropped in Photoshop to 8x10"

When I compared the final painting and the studies I realized I liked the original composition with less background better so I experimented with cropping the painting in Photoshop. It’s not hard to cut the board down if I decide to crop it for real.

What do you think? Do you like this cropped version or the “final” version at the top of the post better?

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Procrastination & Painting Pomegranates

Pomegranate and seeds, oil on Gessobord, 9x12
Pomegranate and seeds, oil painting on Gessobord, 9x12"

I never thought I was a procrastinator but after a week’s vacation meant to be spent painting but rarely getting into the studio until early afternoon at best, I began to look at how I’ve spent my time this week and had trouble figuring out where it had gone.

Then l saw this incredibly creative and well-made four-minute movie on YouTube entitled “Procrastination.” I could see myself in every single scene (except maybe smoking).  If you’ve ever procrastinated getting started on a creative project out of fear of failure, perfectionism, artist’s or writer’s block or any other reason, this video and will make you laugh (or cry).

About the painting:

I discovered Gessobord this week and fell in love with the wonderful surface of these panels. They’re smooth but have a texture that sort of bites into the paint and grabs it, as well as enhancing the colors of the paint. It’s really amazing and is a total pleasure to paint on with oil paints. I wish they were less expensive, but they’re still cheaper than pre-stretched canvas, especially when purchased on sale online.

Instead of trying to do a one or two hour painting and finishing this still life in one chunk, I had to do this one in several short sessions over a period of a few days (because of procrastination and various holiday events and other responsibilities).

I paused and studied the painting, and saw that I needed to improve the composition and values:

Stopping point before analyzing and improving value contrasts
Stopping point to analyze problems

I looked at the painting and the set-up through a piece of red plastic (which elimates the color, emphasizing values) and could see that I needed to darken the background and the inside of the fruit on the left side. I also added the seeds and stains on the cutting board to avoid so much empty space and lead the eye into the painting.

The pomegrantate (already less than fresh when I started) got less attractive and eventually I had to stop and call the painting finished.  I think it will serve as a good stepping stone to the next as I try to put more “miles” on my brushes. And now to stop procrastinating and focus on starting that next painting!

Ooops…when I posted what I thought was the “finished” painting (at bottom) a few minutes ago and then posted this photo of the set-up from day one, I could see that the color of the pom needed to be warmer and the background cooler so I just applied a dark cool glaze to the background and a warm red glaze on some of the pom and posted the finished picture at the top of the post. Now I’m done (I think).

Photo of set-up on day one
Pomegranate and seeds, oil on Gessobord, 9x12
Thought I was finished but more work needed
Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Pomegranate on Velvety Scarf

Oil painting on panel, 6x8"
Oil painting on panel, 6x8"

I am not a party girl. I much prefer my time with friends spent one on one. But today I was scheduled to go to two parties. I was supposed to be at a housewarming party in San Francisco anytime from 11-3 and then at my son’s housewarming party in Pinole from 3-6.

One thing after another delayed my departure, including my own procrastination (and ambivalence since I also wanted time to paint). Finally I was showered, dressed, face made up, the gift wrapped and I was ready to leave when my son arrived at the door.

I loaned him the folding table he needed for his housewarming party and gave him some advice about his achey back. Then I packed up all my junk for the party and the hike and sketching I planned to do in Golden Gate Park after I left the first party. (The latter being completely unrealistic time-wise, but I have only the slenderest hold on the reality of time.)

Walking out the door I looked at my watch and realized it was already 2:00. My GPS unit in my car said I would arrive at my destination at 2:30. I figured showing up for half an hour was better than missing it entirely and I took off. The traffic on I-80 slowed to a crawl and my GPS started showing more and more traffic delays. After driving for about 15 minutes and still not reaching the Bay Bridge, the arrival time had changed from 2:30 to 2:56, 4 minutes before the party was to end. I gave up, got off the freeway and went home.

That left me an hour to finish this little painting I started last week. Fortunately the Pomegranate held up for the week and if anything, got a little more character in its lumps and bumps.

But now I’m late getting ready for my son’s party. Fortunately my clothes are ready to put on, and I already gave him a housewarming gift, so I can just get dressed and walk out the door.