Still life with snowman, week two

Still life with snowman
Still life with Snowman, week two

In my second week of working on the still life, I added another layer of color to the plant, the snowman, and the Christmas balls. ( The canvas is in the middle on the easel with photographs taped to the sides here.) I was working from the still life and from photographs of the still life which I took last week. The poinsettia changed a bit and it was difficult to position it exactly the same as the week before, so the photographs help with the consistency and details of the painting. Next week, I might not bring the plant to class because the car rides in the cold weather seem to be making it lose some foliage.

Still life with snowman and poinsettia
Still life weeks one and two

In the photo collage, you can see week one at the top and week two below. The plant was in the still life, but I had packed it up to ride home with me before I remembered to take a picture of my progress. Basically, I added thicker paint, more accurate colors than in the underpainting, and began putting in more shadows to suggest volume. more shadows than highlights at this point. So from mid tones to darker last week to this week. Next week I will continue from mid tones to darks and maybe hint at highlights. Details with finer brushes and reflective highlights probably come last, or later, although there are no strict rules on the order of operations for me.

Still life with snowman
Posterized Still life

While playing with my photographs of the still life, I made a chronological photo collage for a quick look at the painting’s progress over time. I also began to wonder if making a ‘posterized’ version of the photo would be useful to help me think about the shapes of the colors and shadows in a very simplified way. Photoshop has a posterize filter, but for the photograph above, I used a website that allows you to upload and posterize any image. It was simpler to use my iPhoto on iPad to play with this option than to use my computer (Windows 10) and Photoshop. I am straddling, and struggling, with the two worlds of Apple and Microsoft and have just added into this technological tangle a small Canon Elph point and shoot camera. These platforms do not always play well together which can be frustrating. Using paints, brushes, canvases and looking at a real still life seems easier than climbing the technology learning curve. But climb we must, I suppose.

The Traveling Still Life Poinsettia

In my last post, I mentioned that one element of the still life I am working on in my teacher’s studio has to come home with me each week. I can’t leave the poinsettia because the studio cats might be tempted to nibble on this toxic plant. So the potted poinsettia gets tucked up in a brown paper bag each week and sits in the passenger seat while I drive home. So far the cold weather has not bothered it. It is so cold in my home studio that the plant is now on my dining room table where it’s nice and warm for this tropical denizen and also warm enough for me to draw it in my sketchbook today without freezing my hands. I sketched the plant loosely in pencil, then inked it in black. I erased the pencil marks, then added the color with a new set of watercolor markers that my daughter gave me for Christmas. The colors are vivid. The brand is ‘Primrosia.’

Drawing of a poinsettia
Poinsettia, watercolor markers

Still life with snowman and poinsettia

I am starting the new year with a Christmas-themed acrylic still life. After deciding on the general Christmas theme, I spent a fair amount of time switching plants and objects in and out of the set up: I added, removed, put back pine cones and Christmas balls, moved the snowman around and rooted around my house to find a suitable background drape. Then I took all the pieces of the still life to my teacher’s studio where I will work on the painting once a week for several hours. The photos below are of the still life set up and the square canvas with the drawing and under painting in place. We marked the placement of the easel and took photographs for future reference. I took the poinsettia home so the studio cats wouldn’t be tempted to nibble on the poisonous plant. For anyone interested in how long this process took, I would say roughly an hour at home to get the still life together (if you don’t count inner ruminations about what to paint next), an hour to set up the still life in the studio, including lighting it, an hour on the charcoal sketch, two hours on the initial underpainting, then some more time photographing it and packing up the plant for the car trip. My non-arty friends were surprised that I take this much time to start a painting, but I suspect this preparation time is not at all unusual.

Still life with poinsettia and snowman
Christmas Still Life
Underpainting for Christmas still life of poinsettia
Christmas Still Life : underpainting, acrylic

Toy portrait gets furry

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…

Still life with bunny and bear
Toy portrait progress, acrylic

Teddy Bear and Bunny: starting a Toy Portrait

Teddy Bear and toy bunny with blocks
Posing the toys for their portrait

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.

Under painting for toy portrait
Under painting for the toy portrait

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.