Still Making Art

Life Gets Better as I Get Older


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Day 13 – Starting The First Painting of 2017

With Monday a holiday, I have 4 days free before I have to head off to my day job. Bliss! So I’ve wasted no time in starting a new painting.

First I set up a still life to my liking. This usually takes me a whole day. I built two still lifes before settling on the third. It takes me a long time getting things right, and as I’ve mentioned before, I have to really like the setup, or I’ll end up abandoning the painting.

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Here’s what I settled on.

What usually ends up working is that I’ll find an object – in this case it was the cookie jar. Then I look at it to see what other objects and colors go with it. In this case it was blues, purples, browns, and yellows.

I knew I had a fabric that would work with it – I’ve used it before. Then I looked around outside to see what might be there of use, and I ended up with the dry goldenrod. This fall I had saved a bag of leaves so I pulled that out and found a bunch that seemed suitable. Next, I went to the store for the grapes. I also looked for other foods and I picked the nuts, the star fruit, and a coconut (which I didn’t use). I found the cranberry candles at a local shop, and then spotted the cattails at the roadside as I drove home. I parked the car and clambered down the icy embankment and managed to break off two stems. (Not as easy as one would think.) Then home I went with my treasures to set up a pleasing still life.

After much rearranging and fooling with the lights, I finally got an image that I excites me enough to want to paint it.

Then I had to decide on the size, and this is usually determined by the size of stretches I have that are the proper ratio for the image. In this case I’ve settled on 24 x 16. I often end up choosing non traditional sizes which then requires me to build my own frame –  if I feel a frame is the way to go.

Then comes all the tedious bits of stretching and preparing the canvas, and then sketching the image.

I am painting on linen, and though I prefer my own primed linen to the oil primed linen I have, in the interests of getting going, I stretched the pre-primed linen this time. I find the oil primed linen is very slick to paint on, and it took some getting used to. The first time I used it I was convinced the paint was never going to stick to the surface, but it did, and I don’t worry about that anymore. But still, I prefer the gessoed surface as it has more tooth.

But hey! I have it, and it wasn’t cheap, so I need to use it.

First I put on a coat of quick drying under-painting. (See DrawMixPaint.com for the formula.) And over that I sketch in the design. (See section of sketch below.)

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I personally prefer a pretty detailed sketch. I should have done an oil transfer for the sketch, but to be honest, I forgot to do this. The last time I did an oil transfer, it was summer and humid. The transfer paper all stuck to the canvas, and it was a big mess which I had to wipe off with turpentine and start all over. So I transferred the image using graphite paper and then drew over the graphite with sepia permanent ink. Then I wiped the whole thing with turpentine to remove the graphite.

Then I fastened two screw-eyes into the stretcher at the back and tied the canvas to the cross-board on my easel so the thing won’t fall off. Since I had already cleaned off my palette after finishing the earlier painting, I am then all set to begin painting.

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Here’s my setup. And yes, that’s a highchair from the days when my grandkids were small.

And here’s what I managed to do today.

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There’s a long way to go!

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Day 9 – All in A Day’s Progress

I’m posting today so you can see how much (or little) I can do in a day.

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I can see where I need to fix the values.

I painted most of the day, and this is all I have to show for it. I honestly don’t know what others do, but since many do a painting a day, I think I must be a very slow painter.

One of the useful things about photographing as you go, is it is sometimes easier to see on the computer where you’ve got the tone or values wrong. I can see here that the value at the bottom of the lower pepper is way off. I’ll fix that in my next session. This is easy to do since the paint I use is slow drying.

I did do some touching up on the basket, but I’m still not totally satisfied with it.

Here’s the piece of lamination I’m using for this painting.

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Laminating plastic with my color splotches.

This is a remnant from a laminating machine. You can easily get pieces of this from a place that laminates. I happen to work at a place that does this, but any laminating shop will give you the pieces that get cut off after putting something through the machine. This is a nice stiff clear piece of plastic, and I find it easier to color match this way than to laminate my whole photo (expensive), and dab paint on it. That method requires wiping off which is a waste of time.