I spent a couple of hours working on the bunny and the bear this week. The bunny looks suitably soft and furry and the bear is coming along too. Their bow ties need work. The blocks will be challenging because of the varied perspectives on each. Is that a vanishing points problem? Yikes! I was eager to lighten the yellow color of the drape but ran out of time. Next few weeks: the bear, the blocks, the background, the details and more furry texture…
My next acrylic painting is for two of my grandchildren. The Teddy Bear and Toy Bunny lean on each other, holding paws and posing with three wooden blocks that spell out the children’s initials. The toys lounge on a waffle-weave, soft yellow crib blanket. I want the painting to have soft colors and show the cozy, fuzzy texture of the toys.
I drew the still life with charcoal, erasing it entirely or partially several times until the proportions seemed about right. Then I fixed the charcoal drawing with casein spray so it wouldn’t smear into the paint. Next I painted the toys with a wash of raw umber and the drape with Naples yellow. Next week in class I will add more colors and darker values to the figures and background.
Looking back on my painting progress and process, by early December, the pumpkin had rotted and was put out for the squirrels. The flowers were dead and brittle. The gourd was hanging in there pretty well, but I was frustrated. And cold. Very cold.
I was now working from a combination of a large printout of an old photograph, an iPad on a stand displaying the photograph of the still life as it originally was, and the sad remnants of the still life on the table. I was also a little tired of the whole thing after two months. Plus, with the Pandemic raging around us, I was masked, glasses fogging up, bundled up in layers, and leaving the studio doors open because three of us were working in the shared studio. We kept our distance, trying to converse through muffling masks across the space and hands frozen in medical gloves because we shared some brushes and paints. Well, this was an art class unlike any other in the past and I’m sure we will look back on it and be amazed.
This was my first acrylic painting aside from a couple quick studies last fall. I plan to keep going with this medium in 2021.
When I finished the painting, I disassembled the still life I had been studying for weeks. The gourd went out for the squirrels. The dead flowers were thrown out. The vase washed and put away. The battered silver tray returned to my kitchen to hold a bottle of hand soap and sanitizer. I folded the red flannel drape for future use in my studio. I’m ready to gaze at a new still life.
I finally finished my painting in the week before the Christmas break in our classes. I learned a lot. I could not have done this without the excellent and patient instruction from my wonderful teacher. Teachers rock! Happy New Year!
Once the still life was sketched on the canvas and the basic colors were established with thin coats of under painting, I started to work on one part of the painting at a time. In two classes, I built up the colors and details mainly on the pumpkin and gourd, but also adding some areas of thicker paint to the silver tray, crystal vase and bouquet of flowers. The pumpkin is finished by week four and the gourd is close to being finished.
I started a still life painting in October, laying in the underpainting in two class sessions of three hours each. The photograph on the easel helps me remember what the flowers looked like when fresh. The blue tape sets the boundaries of my field of vision and keeps my gaze consistent over the weeks. There is a spotlight to the right of the gourds which casts dramatic lighting and shadows.