Since 2014, I have contributed more than ten lengthy articles and tutorials for the keen readers who were passionate enough but clueless about their artistic hobby, and often simply for rebrushing your skills, or to show you another approach for what you were doing. Every article had its new readers and some old readers. I have been more than overwhelmed to notice that how many of you found my contributions helpful. I don’t get paid or become well-known for doing this, neither that I yearn for. It gives me a joy that I could teach somebody something. When I started painting out , there was nobody to help me out or to say that is wrong and this is right. I simply could not afford it. I learnt by good ol’ trial and error, seeing thousands of short demos of artists on YouTube and reading the books which I could buy; and I believe so many of you learned the same way. (Well kudos to all of those. Keep up. It’s the dedication for our passion that keeps us pushing, not talent. Talent is a very lazy bloke without dedication). What helped me and still helping me is a clear mind and thorough imagination and focused observation. Observe anything and imagine the painting. You will see none of my still-lifes (yes, it doesn’t become plural 'lives') has a real settings, and I also discussed how to convince the viewer. If you can’t imagine a scene, how can you then convince your viewers of its reality and if you can picturize all the enriched imagination, why can’t imagine a simple still life scene? It’s just about observation, compose and execution. However the first few compositions will almost kill your wish to paint but don’t give up.
And it has been a pleasure to teach you what I knew or what I learnt so that another person does not have to wander off in darkness like me, and God forbid, may I not be empty to teach you anything more. But life does not give much holidays. I will be more and more infrequent here to make tutorials, for the things and jobs I chose to achieve and work on. I will however try to make some time when next traditional weeks come. So before saying bye, earlier this week, I wanted to show you the two lives of two artists whom I have been inspired by, so that you too can be inspired by their lives and works. There are more artists who inspires me, but I could not get interviews of all of them.
This week’s last article I decided to be a log. A log of my experiment with a painting. I brought this new concept being inspired by spligity’s article at last traditional week which showed how day by day she achieved perfection in drawing in her class. And of course after reading The Martian. So I thought to make something that shows what troubles or difficulties an artist faces. Until now I gave tutorials – a finished, well documented neat work; but everyone will agree it’s never that neat unless we are very seasoned professional artist. Between a painting’s starting and ending, there come lots of confusion, difficulties and errors, and everyone has different approach to tackle those. So by this day by day log I wanted to show you how I paint and achieve the final result. You are my readers, so you will ultimately decide it was interesting or not. And keep no doubt, a log is a tutorial for keen eyes.
The plan is plain simple. I saw some paintings by Greg Hansell (Google him. Not the baseball player) done in entirely or almost in earth palette. You know the earth palette – Raw and Burnt Umber, Raw and Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Indian Red, White, Ivory Black and sadly no blue. But there is a secret blue. You will find out.
And my idea was to paint something in entire earth palette. That will also limited my palette and also mute it. But the final result should be worthy if we see the maestros’ works.
Lets find out.
Following is the exact transcript of my recorder.
The edge of the table should serve as a striking element to my painting. You know all about the diagonal lines in paintings, don’t you?
So much work work work and so the rest of the time my back doesn’t want to get up and paint.
Here I transferred the drawing to a thickly gesso coated oil paper with the help of a tracing paper and carbon paper. And then re-shaded it loosely. I wrote about gessoing the papers thickly. I’m not telling anything new.
3rd May, 2016
I literally should finish it. I established the subjects value with Raw Sienna. I read in Ben Lustenhouwer's blogs, that it is very good for under-painting.
Note you can make a detailed under-painting or just as much as is understandable to you. The under-painting has no value to anybody else other than you. Some big artists don’t even do it. The Raw Sienna is really good. I bought it newly. Will apply in some other paintings. But we need something darker for the shadows. Maybe a Burnt Umber.
4th May, 2016
Didn't need Burnt Umber. The Raw Sienna mixed with the graphite and made a darker shade. Should serve our purpose.
5th May, 2016
So from left to right, here is a mixture of 80% Ivory Black to 20-15% Burnt Umber. Darker on the left side. Now my dilemma is what to do with the edge of the surface.
I repainted it and now I’m seriously confused. With the distinct edge, it looks like a scene with 4 elements (bowl, banana, watermelon and table) and the subjects are getting way too much space for breathing and something is not right. Too much empty space and looks like someone finished their breakfast in a hurry. That can serve as a different scene like slice of life maybe? But... without the distinct edge, the darkness is like engulfing the 3 main subjects and the focus comes to right at it. A classic still life.
After scratching head for 3 hours, I decided I will go with the classic look and direct focus. Time to sleep.
9th May, 2016
I'm using Raw Sienna with white to paint the bowl. That will be the under-painting. It should give the nice value study and I'm using a dark gray on the transition points of black and light gray. Next are shadows.
10th May, 2016
Re-painting the bowl with white and gray, this should nicely define the shadow lines.
For now, the bases of the subjects are looking pretty bland.
I added the shadow with pure Ivory black. I need to define the reflected lights on the base of the bowl.
11th May, 2016
Things progressed quickly and I almost finished the bowl. I used a mixture of dark gray for the dark part and a mixture of Titanium white or just white and Yellow Ochre for the lighter part of the bowl and I used pure Burnt Sienna and its mix with white for the inside. I decorated the bowl with a stripe around its mouth of Burnt Sienna and slight Ultramarine blue on the edges.
Also I made a dark gray mixture and re-defined the edge of the table or surface, but the edge of the surface is mismatching with the banana's position.
15th May, 2016
I dissolved the edge of the table with a very dark gray mixture, almost black, so that it defines an edge but also doesn't mismatch the banana's position.
And I painted the banana — the darker part with Burnt Umber and Raw Umber, and, the half tone with a mixture of Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. The lighter part is done with pure Yellow Ochre. Banana skin is not reflective, so the reflected light must be done with a mixture of Yellow Ochre and white.
I fixed the base of the bowl, too.
All the paints will dry darker and muter.
20th May, 2016
Now, the watermelon. I did one more under-painting with pure Burnt Sienna. For the watermelon we will need red, but the earth palette doesn't have a red, other than a muted red, called Indian red. There is no way we can have the bright red colour of the watermelon. That is the objective of this experiment, to see how it turns out while painted with entirely earth colors which are mostly entirely muted. Anyway, so for a bright red we must improvise. We have to add earth yellow with the Indian red so that it brightens a little. But the yellow (Yellow Ochre) we have is also muted. But we have one pigment that acts almost close to yellow. That is Raw Sienna. Here, I mixed Indian red with both Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre and it turned out, the Yellow Ochre has a slightly brighter shade. That will be our watermelon's half tone.
I re-painted the watermelon with Burnt Sienna. Something is wrong with the bowl's base. We will see to it later.
For now, I used pure Indian red for the base, the mixture of Indian red + Yellow Ochre for the half tone and Indian red and excess Yellow Ochre for the lighter part. After that I used Burnt Umber mixed with a tiny bit of Raw Umber on the corners for a more darker shade. Now, the problem is we need a green, but the closest thing we have near a green is Raw Umber, which is a very darkish green, We can not use that for reflective light on the watermelon's skin. There are no more green in the whole earth palette and to mix our green (because we always mix our own green), we need a blue. And the surprise is, there is absolutely no blue in the earth palette, blue is not considered as an earth color. But, I told you there is a secret blue. We all know, that there can never be a true black pigment. A true black colour means absence of every other colors, so theoretically there can never be a true black paint. So the Ivory black that we use is nothing but a very, very dark blue. That's why it yields a muddy green color, whenever mixed with any yellow. But to bring out that green's true form, we need a bright yellow, something like Cadmium Yellow, but we can't use that. We have Yellow Ochre and it will yield a dark, muddy green when mixed with Ivory black but it should serve our purpose. So, for the skin's dark part we used pure, Raw Umber and for the edge, we used Raw Umber and a touch of Yellow Ochre. And for the reflective light, the green we've just made. Of course, for the shadow we used pure Ivory black and softened the edges with gray. I gave it a rough texture by applying gray with my painting knife. Next I mixed a bright, pinkish red with India red and excess white and defined the edges.
The banana's edge was making trouble, so I took some Yellow Ochre and gave my signature stroke with my painting knife on the banana's edge and painted the watermelon's seeds. For the seed-pit we used Burnt Umber + a touch of Ivory black for the pit's inside where light falls and pure Burnt Umber for where falls less.
Time for fine tuning around the shadows, the banana's highlight, and I noticed I painted the seeds' highlights on the wrong side, so I fixed those and I also fixed the bowl's base. Before it was not as curved as it should have been, so I fixed it. And so it is done.
Even though painted with entirely earth-palette, the final result turned out to be pretty good, a bit muted but captures the mood. The breakfast table at dawn and a tiny stream of light is coming in. It is like a scene from a castle room!
Time to say bye and call an end to this amazing week. Thank you for keeping up.
Take care everyone, be happy and paint like crazy!
Adios and God spede.
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