Two Endings, One Beginning
The series of ten single objects is finished, with the One Green Bottle. This post comes a bit late since I've already done the first two from the next series of paintings, ten pairs of objects.
I've also finished the twenty hand drawings series. I worked out it took me two and a half months to draw them. A bit on the slow side.
End of Series: Ten Single Objects
In a way I was quite relieved to finish this series, there's been lots of times I've wanted to put something else with what I'm painting, to give it a bit more interest. Ironically, now I've started the next series of ten pairs of objects, I'm wishing I could go back to single objects again. I'm trying out some new stuff at the moment, in materials and approach, and it's all got a bit complicated. Too many things to think about at once. I'm sure things will settle down once I've done a few more paintings though.
The first one of the series, which gave me the idea for doing a run of ten, was this onion. I painted it at the beginning of March and the way I paint has changed a bit since then.
I'd say this series has been characterised by more attention being devoted to the light, both on the subject and on the canvas. Using my colour checker became counter-productive when my canvas was in shadow, because my lightest light, titanium white, couldn't match the lightness of what I was seeing on what I was painting. Because it was in shadow, obviously. It took me a few paintings to realise that though. I suppose it goes to show how becoming too involved with a particular tool or approach can be a bad thing in the early stages of development. I still think it has value though, and I think it can still teach me to see colours and tones better. Lately I've taken to putting it next to what I'm painting when I'm doing the lights, so the same light is falling on the paint on my colour checker as is falling on the subject. Then I can get as light you like.
It brings up an interesting problem though. The colour checker is only any use when I have pretty much the same light on my canvas (or panel,) and on my still life. This means that I can't paint something with back light, say, because I only have the one window and I'd be facing it. I'm feeling restricted a bit by having to have good light on my canvas. I should be able to paint something whether my canvas is in shadow or not.
I think this may be something I can look into further, by trying out some experiments just with tone. If I paint the same object, once with light on the canvas and once with it shadow, but just using tone, it should give me a good idea of what the differences really are. I should be able to mentally compensate for the fact that my canvas is in shadow by making all the tones relate to each other the same, but in a lower key than what I see. Difficult. I'm having enough trouble just matching what I see.
I think I'll save this for later, and keep with the current set up for this next series. What I mostly need now is practice with the approach I've got, I don't want to give myself too much to deal with at once. I'm pretty slow on the uptake.
This is the last one of the series. There's been a number of changes. Firstly, I make sure I have good light on the canvas now. Secondly, I'm working sight-size. It makes it much easier to judge differences in colour, tone shape between my painting and the still life. Also, I've started using medium.
But apart from those technical things, I think my eye is getting better. To me, the last few paintings had much more of a feeling of light in them than the first few, which is what I'm interested in more than anything else. I think it's the light that makes a painting live, if it's not caught right and the tones are off it can make it look like an illustration.
Although the light is more dramatic in the onion painting, I think it's more convincing in the bottle painting, even though the light is much more diffuse with the bottle up against the back wall.
End of Series: Twenty Drawings of Hands
Finally, after my reassessment back in February and the starting of a bunch of series of drawings, I've finished one of them. I've really enjoyed doing this series, there's something very satisfying about doing a nice drawing of a hand.
This was the first one. It's funny to look at this drawing now, it feels like ages ago I drew it. I was looking at things differently then, in more ways than one. I'm much more confident in my drawing now, even though I know it still has a long way to go.
The main thing that strikes me looking at this now is how inaccurate the drawing is, and how that steals the life from the drawing. Tone aside, the line just seems a bit lifeless.
Here's the last one, done the other day. My drawing has completely changed. The most obvious thing is that I only draw with line at the moment. The next most obvious thing is that that's produced a much nicer drawing. The accuracy is better and the line has more life. Also I tend to draw with charcoal now, which is a much more sensitive and therefore expressive material. What I hadn't realised before is how fine and accurate charcoal can be, at least as fine as pencil when you get used to it.
I've got some plans for some new drawing series, but I need to finish of the other three first. Getting them done so I can start on the next lot is good motivation. I've got a lot of mouths to draw though, that series doesn't appear to have caught my interest much.
New Series: Ten Pairs of Objects
You knew it had to be this after ten single objects right?
There's nothing special I'm looking for with this series, just more practice of catching light and colour. My approach is changing, and so is my technique, but it's all a development along the same path.
Here's the first painting of the series, not a bad start I think.
This painting was done sight size, I intend to do all of them like that for this series. I first did it with the green bottle, so that one set this series up nicely. Also I've started using medium, which seems to be giving me more control over where the paint goes and how thickly I apply it, and lets me paint translucent shadows, which I think are helping to give the paintings more luminosity.
This series is all being done on MDF panels primed with acrylic gesso. I'm finding it a very nice surface to work on so far, and it's nice that the little painting is a solid thing I can hold when it's finished. I think the paintings are looking nicer now, with a better finish. They deserve a bit more than a piece cut out of a canvas sketch pad.
Doing that allowed me to keep the shadows translucent and let the thick, opaque paint on the planes in full light come forward more. It's something I'm going to have to practice with, so that's what this series will be largely about. It's still about the light.
28th May 2006