Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Painting Still Lifes

I have regarded still lifes as special in so many ways. Simplicity, eloquent, intimate, tender would be the adjectives I attach to this domain. First, I must credit my recent class from Sun City in Roseville, as these paintings evolved from demonstrating my technique. In the first painting, (Lemons and Pears, 12x16) I have centered the mass to the left, angled the fruit up, to the left. Good design is a function of line, movement, mass distribution, good color harmony (among other things too numerous to mention here). The yellow and orange pull out the color from the ground plane which was black, (very neutral) but with strong color shapes, the complimentary automatically comes out as you squint and guess what color should go in there. Also note the shadows on the bottom edge of the fruit to model the round edges turning in and under and the "lost edge " on the cloth to the middle right. Such touches add mystery and painterly qualities (so does a big brush, 8, and 10's). Don't tickle it to death. Make big, commited strokes and use lots of paint.

The floral on the right (Spring Boquet, 18x24) was fun and exciting to paint. Notice how I have exaggerated the lean from lower left to upper right. This creates tension, movement, and dynamism; qualities to have in a good painting. Each flower is modeled in less detail than the star flower ( the one designed to grab your attention) in successive fashion. The shadow side is constructed from graying and darkening all my colors and highlighting the light side on the right. Bear in mind at all times the direction of the light, always modeling three values; dark, mid, and light tones. The flowers pop because I have a neutral background via a blend of greys. They are warm but toned down to allow the flowers to jump out. The dark cool colored vase sets off the entire arrangement. Always ask yourself, "do I have warms and cools, darks and lights, forward and backward movement."? These will guide you to produce an exciting, successful painting!! Thanks to all you devoted students at Sun City, Roseville for your hard work. It helps me become motivated and strive for excellence. Check back to this blog for more posts on technique in the future. Learning is a function of review and practice.

1 comment:

  1. Silvio, as a student and friend I always enjoy seeing your paintings and hearing your views and advice. For quite a long time I never considered still life my favorite subject, and I know many artists who feel the same way, but a few years ago I learned from various respected teachers and artist mentors that still life painting is a good way to improve all skills in an environment that is totally controlled by the artist. Design, composition, color, value and brushwork all benefit from still life study and the lessons learned carry over to landscape and portrait work as well. Thanks for your informative post on a subject that can sometimes feel like practicing musical scales - but what better way to prepare for the concert?