The series of ten single objects is finished, with theOne 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 halfmonths 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 wantedto put something else with what I’m painting, to give it a bit more interest. Ironically, now I’vestarted the next series of ten pairs of objects, I’m wishing I could go back to single objects again.I’m trying outsome new stuff at the moment, in materials and approach, and it’s all got a bit complicated. Toomany things to think about at once. I’m sure things will settle down once I’ve done a few morepaintings though.
The first one of the series, which gave me the idea for doing a run of ten, was this onion. Ipainted 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 thesubject and on the canvas. Using my colour checker became counter-productive when my canvas wasin shadow, because my lightest light, titanium white, couldn’t match the lightness of what Iwas seeing on what I was painting. Because it was in shadow, obviously. It took me a few paintings to realisethat though. I suppose it goes to show how becoming too involved with a particular tool or approachcan be a bad thing in the early stages of development. I still think it has value though, and I think it can stillteach me to see colours and tones better. Lately I’ve taken to putting it next to what I’m paintingwhen I’m doing the lights, so the same light is falling on the paint on my colour checker as isfalling 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 prettymuch the same light on my canvas (or panel,) and on my still life. This means that I can’t paintsomething with back light, say, because I only have the one window and I’d be facing it. I’m feelingrestricted a bit by having to have good light on my canvas. I should be able to paint somethingwhether my canvas is in shadow or not.
I think this may be something I can look into further, by trying out some experiments just withtone. 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 shouldbe able to mentally compensate for the fact that my canvas is in shadow by making all the tonesrelate to each other the same, but in a lower key than what I see. Difficult. I’m having enoughtrouble 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 muchto 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 goodlight on the canvas now. Secondly, I’m working sight-size. It makes it much easier to judgedifferences 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 fewpaintings had much more of a feeling of light in them than the first few, which is what I’minterested in more than anything else. I think it’s the light that makes a painting live, if it’snot 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 thebottle 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 satisfyingabout 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. Iwas 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 thatsteals 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 thatI 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 moresensitive and therefore expressive material. What I hadn’t realised before is how fine and accurate charcoalcan 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 doneso I can start on the next lot is good motivation. I’ve got a lot of mouths to draw though, that series doesn’tappear 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 andcolour. 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 withthe green bottle, so that one set this series up nicely. Also I’ve started using medium, which seems to be givingme more control over where the paint goes and how thickly I apply it, and lets me paint translucent shadows, whichI 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 workon so far, and it’s nice that the little painting is a solid thing I can hold when it’s finished. I think thepaintings are looking nicer now, with a better finish. They deserve a bit more than a piece cut out of acanvas sketch pad.
For the second one of the series I painted the garlic again. It’s striking against the darkbackgrounds of these two paintings. I painted this one entirely with grey tone before I added any colour, it’sa very different approach than I’ve been using lately. Usually I just steam straight in with the colour.
Doing that allowed me to keep the shadows translucent and let the thick, opaque paint on the planes in fulllight come forward more. It’s something I’m going to have to practice with, so that’s what this series will belargely about. It’s still about the light.
28th May 2006
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