Monthly Archives: January 2016

Still Life in Color

Sill Life in Oils - Finished

Here is, as promised last time, the colored exercise of my previous still life.
For this exercised I tried using a limited palette: Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose, Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre.
I laid down the first layer as thinly as I could, still trying to follow Harold Speed’s advice. I thinned my paint with the 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turps. (Photos have been taken under different lighting conditions, hence the huge difference in tone)
Still Life in Color WIP 1I let this try, then went for a second layer a week later.
Still Life in Color WIP 2
I had lots of trouble with the spoon’s shadow on the inside of the saucepan. Another week to dry (well, I just didn’t have time to finish it) and the result is the first image. In the last passage I made the greens on the bottle a lot more saturated as they were way too gray.
Finally, here is a photo oh my setup. I took it lower than my point of view for the painting, that’s why perspective is so different. Onto flowers now!

Still life reference


Still Life – more tone exercises

Still Life tone exercise

Continuing on the series of Tone Exercises proposed in Harold Speed’s Oil Painting book, I setup a simple still life in my studio. I will post the photo next time, with the color study, but for now I just wanted to mention the bottle is green and the front sauce pan of a bright red. I had trouble trying to match tones and the different qualities of the objects (like the wooden spoon), so, in the end, I think I didn’t take the coffee pot to a decent finish, probably because it was so worn and brushed that it barely had any reflection in terms of value (more in color).
Here 2 previous steps of completion. The goal was once more to try to use paint as thin as possible, while preserving its opacity. I probably didn’t do it enough, but I am happy with the result.

I used once more Burnt Umber + Titanium while, fairly thinned with a mixture of Turpentine and Linseed Oil (50/50). The board is a simple wooden panel with 4 coats of gesso.

Stage 1

Still Life tone exercise - WIP 1

Stage 2

Still Life tone exercise - WIP 2p.s. There was no actual color shift, I just took the photos under different lighting conditions


Mass Drawing + Oil Painting Chapter 6 – Tone Exercises

Following the method illustrated in the 1917 book The Practice and Science of Drawing, by Harold Speed, I tried the mass drawing (aka painting) of a head maquette. At the same time, I used another approach to paint a classic plaster cast I bought recently, illustrated in the Oil Painting Techiniques book, which we are discussing at Gurney Journey

Head maquette tone studies

The first  method (on the left) is pretty simple: after laying down the base drawing in pencil and fixing it, you mix up a dark, mid, and light value with Raw Umber and white. I thinned the mid (ground) value down a lot with some Liquin, then scrubbed it across the whole surface. I then came in with the white, while the ground was still wet, and let the paint on my brush freely mix with it. This way, I had to use thicker paint to get the lighter values.

It’s a great exercise that helps you learning how to lay down paint, control its thickness, and think about strokes ahead. I then did the same with the dark, and came back in with the mid in a thicker version to fix thin spots.

Speed insists on the fact that you should keep lights and darks as separate as possible, so avoid letting them ever touch.

The second method (above right, and below), illustrated in the Oil Painting book, relies strictly on laying down very thin, yet opaque paint. Tones must be kept simple and arranged in large areas, while details must only be added after establishing the main masses. Overall, I prefer this latter method.
Bust plaster cast tone exercise