Tag Archives: still life

Assignment 2 – Demonstration of Colour, Tone, Composition and Technique

9 Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Brief for the assignment 

Your painting for this assignment should demonstrate your understanding of colour, tone, composition and the development of your technique in your chosen medium.

Set up a still life in the corner of a room or table. Alternatively, you may want to develop one of the sketches or exercises that you have done in this part of the course.

Choose your painting medium and decide on the format and scale of your painting. Work on treated paper, card or canvas (at least A3) in either portrait or landscape format. Choose the background colour that you will use.

Draw the main shapes with a brush paying particular attention to:

  • your viewpoint
  • the direction of the light source
  • highlights and shadow (tone)
  • the relationship between objects and the background
  • the mood you wish to convey

My Subject

1 - Original Sketch from Drawing in Paint

1 – Original Sketch from Drawing in Paint

I wanted to develop an earlier sketch, which I did note in an earlier exercise. The sketch was of the basket in which I keep my acrylics and the tubes of paint inside. In that particular sketch I had used line, I wasn’t sure I would use it in the finished painting but it was definitely something to think about.

There was a problem with developing this sketch though and that was I had drawn it in the day I had drawn shadows but I wasn’t particularly paying much attention to the light source direction and so I thought it may be wise to start a fresh but using the same subject.

Colour Studies and Development

3 - Rough Study Influenced by Glenn Brown

3 – Rough Study Influenced by Glenn Brown

I wanted to demonstrate my understanding of most of what I had learnt through this part of the course in this piece so this time I decided to paint some of the surroundings as well for perspective set up the subject again on the monks cloth and set several more random items at the side of it that I could consider putting in the assignment piece which included a glue-stick, a small striped box and the remote control for the air-conditioning.

Glenn Brown - Ride with the Devil Sympathy for the Poor

Glenn Brown  Ride with the Devil, Sympathy for the Poor

The weave of the basket gave me an idea, I had been looking through vitamin P2 and came across work by the artist Glenn Brown and liked the way he seemed to use layers of thick paint to give his paintings texture and sense of three dimension and thought that this could be something that might work in my assignment piece.

After my not so brilliant attempt at a colour study influenced by the artist (see figure 3) I realized that it was probably not an ideal technique for acrylic paint which is what I would be using for this assignment.

Grey City 2 - Ziga Kariz

Grey City 2 – Ziga Kariz

Another painting that really caught my eye was Grey City 2 by Ziga Kariz, not really because of the style of his painting but because of his choice of colour blue, I wasn’t sure if I had really been successful in what the brief of the Still life with colour used to evoke mood exercise and this was probably a chance to have another go at that at least in a study if not the final piece.

4 - Study Inflenced by Ziga Kariz Grey City 2

4 – Study Inflenced by Ziga Kariz Grey City 2

This led to my next drawing in watercolour in my mixed media sketchbook over two pages something I hadn’t yet tried out. The drawing was really rough and didn’t take me long to complete but what I did learn from it was that firstly, I would use be using mainly blue as ‘blue’ was the mood I wanted to depict in my painting. I saw the tubes of paint inside the basket as being trapped inside the basket and the tube in front as escaping but not yet free and that is what I wanted to put across.

Secondly I wanted to make use of line, I really thought that outline would be something worth experimenting with in this painting and the original drawing and the first two studies told me to stick with it.

6 - Acrylic Paint Colours Closest to Watercolours

6 – Acrylic Paint Colours Closest to Watercolours

The water colour study in my sketchbook was painted with a field set and only had one blue so I squeezed several blues out from watercolour tubes and painted squares of each colour. I tried to stick to colours as close to the Grey City painting as I like the mood they portrayed. The colours I thought I would be using at this stage were Ultramarine (which I ticked in the image on the right), mineral blue (not sure if they had this in acrylic colour) and Prussian blue (which is directly under ultramarine in the photo).



5 - Watercolour Developed From Sketchbook Study

5 – Watercolour Developed From Sketchbook Study

With the colours identified I went on to see how these colours would look in a painting by doing another watercolour study on A3 paper with the chosen hues. The result was that I tried ultramarine in a small part of the painting but then decided not to use it and to omit from the final piece.

At this stage I still wasn’t sure whether I would be including the other items from the still life composition in the final painting.

Working on the Final Painting

Materials used:

  • A1 Card
  • Acrylic Paint, Ivory Black, Titanium white, Primary Blue, Prussian Blue
  • Brushes, a range of brushes in different sizes both synthetic and hogs bristle
  • Medium Acrylic Gel

I chose to do the final painting on board as I had plenty of it left from backing my wwork for my Drawing 1 course formal assessment. In the last watercolour study I left a white border which I really liked plus there was a lot of white showing through from the background which helped depict the light reflecting off the paint tops and the basket and so unlike my last assignment and previous paintings for this one I decided to use a white background and so treated the card with gezzo and then a coat of white.

7 - Drawing in Paint

7 – Drawing in Paint

When it came to painting in acrylic there was no mineral blue but primary blue mixed with a certain amount of white had the same hue, so that wasn’t a problem. I began the painting by drawing the main shapes with a dilute mix of primary blue. There were plenty of errors and I would soon find that the position of the tubes of paint  (and they were positioned, not just thrown in) made them unconvincing as tubes of paint so I had to think of how I would make their forms more visible.

8 Developing the Background

8 – Developing background and contents

On the second day I painted over the basket and this time repainted the basket with paint mixed with a medium gel, this helped to depict the texture of the woven basket.  Then I began to experiment by painting duplicates of the upright bottle in the centre to see if it improved the look of the contents on the inside of the basket. It made it worse, this time the contents looked to organised, to artificial and too overcrowded.

I continued to work on the cloth, shelf and basket so I could see the whole picture this helped me to decide on how to tackle the contents of the basket.

Contrary to what my colour studies told me I used more primary blue than any other colour. I found that by using a neutral primary blue and white mix and then going over it with white on a try brush using a scrumbling technique gave me better tones than using different colour mixes, it also ensured that I could get the exact colour that I wanted from the blue and white. I could then use layers of primary or Prussian blue for the darker areas where needed such as on the folds of the cloth.

Working on the contents of the basket again I decided that it was best to paint just a few of the upright tubes with the others laying down in the background. I painted the darker shapes first with a mix of primary and Prussian blue and then then highlighted with lighter mixes using white this gave me the outlines.

I could now see that the painting was developing into something completely different to what I had planned and I really liked the way it was coming along. The paint tubes gave the painting an almost three dimensional cartoon feel, with soft but bold shapes and so I carried on with this continuing the same kind of technique with the cloth. I then added more light to the folds of the cloth to make the folds look bolder the result of which reminded me of the hills in Grant Wood’s paintings.

Still Life with Remote Control

Still Life with Remote Control

I then painted in the tube of paint to the right and the remote control but then decided to paint it out. The reasons for me doing this were one that I could not get the perspective of the remote control right and two I saw no point painting the glue-stick and box on the other side so the best way to level out the still life was to remove everything other than the main subjects.


9 Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Lastly I worked on the shadows to the right of the subjects and for me this was the most difficult part. The reason for this was that in the painting I had exaggerated the light in order to give me bolder forms as well as to emphasize the mood of the painting. In the actual still life the shadows were quite short and fell just past the tube of paint to the right of the cloth but because I had  ‘stretched’ the light to the right of the basket I wanted to stick this by making the shadows longer as I did with my final piece for Assignment 5 for Drawing 1 where I found that  accentuating the shadows  made the mood stronger.

I painted the shadows with a mix of primary blue and black applied in thin glazes with a flat brush and shaped the shadow on the back wall so that it would depict the light being blocked out by both the cloth and the basket in a continuous shape. I think I managed to pull it off but I don’t know if it will be convincing to viewers as it is to me.

Things I like about the finished painting

It’s different to anything I have done before. I have never made use of line in a painting or drawing before and I like the way it turned out. It didn’t turn out as I expected but I was experimenting throughout the assignment from initial studies to the final piece, not just with line but also with colour and form. I feel that I have managed to evoke the mood that I intended to and the white boarder adds to this.

Things that I am not sure about

I am still in two minds to whether I should crop the painting as maybe I zoomed out a bit two much. If i had zoomed in more and painted the basket bigger like in the original sketch I could have spent more time on the detail and the subjects would probably look a lot looser. I’m still not sure whether there is enough shadow on the painting.


Still Life 2 – Drawing in Paint

Look around your house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there. Don’t spend too long looking. It could be things that you keep on a shelf, table or window ledge or a corner of your kitchen. Don’t choose objects that are too complex in appearance, but choose things that you find interesting to look at. Make any minor adjustments that you need to create a simple still life arrangement from what happens to be there.

There’s not much going on in my apartment but a few simple things left around and kitchen utensils, I move that often that I keep things to a bare minimum. However I did have a handful of things laying around.

The first objects that I laid my eyes on were my wooden manikin that I have never used and a Siamese football (taakraw) they were on a small white wooden table that I used in my assignment and other exercises so I placed them on a thin layer of wrapping material that was elevated with a plastic bottle to give the composition an interesting background. This arrangement had everything I was looking for really but I thought I would look at other things I had laying around.

First Sketch Manakin and Taakraw Ball

1 First Sketch Manakin and Taakraw Ball

The second sketch was of a Lacoste shopping bag on top of a case containing a drone that I have never used. This was also an interesting composition and will be a subject for a painting at some stage but for this exercise it was quite technical with the detail on the case.

2 Second Sketch - Drone Case and Lacoste Bag

2 Second Sketch – Drone Case and Lacoste Bag

My third sketch was of my camera on top of the case containing the remote control for the drone, This was very technical and so I decided against it and left the sketch unfinished.

3 Third Sketch - Camera and Drone Remote Case

3 Third Sketch – Camera and Drone Remote Case

For the third drawing i set up a composition of my acrylic paint basket and some material used for monks robes that I bought for my drawing course. I didn’t know how it would turn out but I couldn’t have asked for a better result. This would have been ideal for this exercise with the lines of the fabric folded behind the box and how the lines seperated the different tones of the colours on the box inside the tube…BUT…I liked it so much that i wanted to save it for my still life with man made objects.

4 Fourth Sketch Acrylics in Wicker Basket

4 Fourth Sketch Acrylics in Wicker Basket

Going back to the manikin and taakraw, I made the second sketch of my chosen arrangement in watercolour. I bought a watercolour set about a month ago and have been doing some urban sketching. I usually draw with a Rotring first and then do the rest in watercolour, this was my first 100% watercolour sketch. I started with the outline of the manikin and ball and then applied the colour followed by glazing for the shadow. For the ball I drew the outline in a fairly watered down mix then finished it off with a mixture of dry brush and glazing. I thought this would have given me enough practise for finishing off the ball in the acrylic painting but it proved to be much more difficult in acrylic.

5 Watercolour Sketch of Manakin

5 Watercolour Sketch of Manakin

The composition looks easy to draw but it wasn’t, it actually took three attempts to draw the two objects in pencil due to the dimensions of the two objects together. So when it come to drawing in acrylic I tore out the watercolour sketch from the XL pad and put it in front of me with the pencil drawing so I could work from real life with the two drawings as reference.

Unlike previous exercises I wanted to work small on an A4 sheet, I had never painted on a small scale before and I felt that this would help me develop my ‘drawing with paint’ skills. Painting on a small scale did increase the level of difficulty

I started by preparing the paper with an off-white first coat of acrylic and then once dry I painted the outline of the two objects with a watered down mix of yellow ochre and burnt umber. From there I made a couple of edits before applying colour.

6 Drawing in Acrylic Paint

6 Drawing in Acrylic Paint

Yellow ochre played a big part in the colouring of the mankin with different mixes of white for the lighter tones, then I used a mixture of dry brush and glazing techniques for the shadows and darker tones. My palette wasn’t too large but I did use a few different colours such as burnt umber, burnt sienna, yelllow ochre and titanium white (my tutor did warn against using titanium white but as of yet I have been unable to find zinc white here) as well as cadmium orange and chromium green.

Although I applied the colour very randomly switching from technique to technique as I moved through the manikin, I did work in a very structured manner, like the Dutch Masters I painted the manikin piece by piece first the head then the arms, body and so on.

Once I had finished the manikin the drawing of the outline of the ball looked way out and so I painted in the basic colours of the background, pink ( a mix of primary red and white) and then a very light grey (black and white), this gave me a rough idea how much it needed editing, which wasn’t much.

7 Manakin and Taakraw in Acrylic

7 Manikin and n in Acrylic

When working on detail of the ball it changed from a drawing with paint exercise to mixed media. Firstly I painted the light and dark tones of the ball and then I needed some kind of technique for drawing the woven sections. I came across ‘Hitofude Ryuu’ dragon with 1 stroke painting and thought maybe I could borrow something from this to paint the ball so I dipped a small flat brush in two different coloured paints, hoping that I could paint the detail of the weave as well as the shadow in 1 stroke. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I had to paint over it and start again but it was worth a try.

Eventually I settled for a dry brush technique with a darkened mix of yellow ochre which worked really well but it still needed detail which I thought I could achieve with black applied with a small brush. The brush snapped when towel drying it and so I tried applying the paint with the blade of a cutter with no joy and so I made the decision not to paint the black detail but to draw it with a black Uni-ball pen. the result of this can be seen above.

Research Point 4: Still Life from the Dutch Golden Age to Contemporary Art

Part 1 of this Research Point

Look at the work of some of the 17th century Dutch still life and flower painters. Make notes on paintings that you especially admire and find out more about the techniques that were employed at this time. Research at least one painting that has iconographic significance.  Which of the objects depicted carry particular meaning and what was that meaning?

I started by searching for names of 17th century Dutch painters making a list of the names of artists whose work caught my eye, these included Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Jacob Gillig, Pieter Claesz and Evert Collier as well as Jan Weenix and Harmen Steenwyk. From there I went onto research the techniques used at that time so I could come back and examine the works of some of these painters in detail.

Techniques of the Dutch Masters

Unlike modern painters execute their paintings as a whole, working in a standing position so that they can step back to visualize the painting in its entirety, 17th century artists worked in a master studio to a fixed step by step method. They divided the workload into separate phases so that they could take care of the all important components individually. The compositions of the still life paintings of the 17th century were much more intricate than today and therefore the Dutch masters paid far more attention to detail and perspective and so a more technical process was needed, completing each painting in a piece by piece fashion once the drawing and lighting had been worked out at the underpainting stage.

The artists of 17th century Holland also had far less pigments on their palettes than today’s artists as their choice of pigments were far less, usually having to be hand ground at the beginning of each working day, in addition to this not all pigments were compatible with each other and so had to be used individually. Complex painting techniques such as glazing, underpainting and using varying paint consistencies and application methods helped them to compensate for the lack of pigments.

For the 17th century painter there were several stages to producing a painting, these were: inventing (drawing or sketching), dead-coloring (underpainting), working-up (finishing/application of colour) and retouching.

One notable technique that I found was for painting patterned lace, Rembrandt evolved a technique where he painted lightly in black over white to show the pattern but the other way, one which particularly appealed to me was to paint in white over black then scratch off the white with the end of the paintbrush to depict the pattern.

Paintings of the Dutch Masters

Examining the still life paintings of this era is different from anything I’ve looked at before as I have to remember that most of these were commissioned and so I have to look at iconography in the painting, floral compositions, backgrounds etc.

Jan Davidszoon de Heem

Jan Davisz de Heem Still Life with a glass and Oysters

Jan Davisz de Heem Still Life with a glass and Oysters

I looked at several paintings by Jan Davidsz. de Heem but the first one that caught my attention was Still Life with a Glass and Oysters. However, it wasn’t the oysters that caught my eye, it was the bunch of grapes, and glass.

According to the paper Symbols of Change in Dutch Golden Age Still Life Paintings by Ellen Siegel, grapes in Dutch Golden Age Paintiings (DGAP), grapes were a religious symbolism or symbolism of purity and can also be symbol of trade with Spain. Glassware was symbol of wealth or moderation. The large luxurious glass in this painting is obviously a symbol of wealth and so I would say that the grapes rather than a religious symbol in this piece were the latter, a symbol of trade. Oysters in DGAP symbolism were a symbol of natural aphrodisiac and temptation. So i am thinking that person who commissioned the artist to paint this piece enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle and maybe parties with this piece on display for all to see.

Jan Davisz de Heem Still Life of Flowers

Jan Davisz de Heem Still Life of Flowers

Although we just see floral paintings as beautiful paintings, something to brighten up the room, certain flowers in DGAP’s carried a lot of symbolism. In the painting on the right ‘Still Life with Flowers, there are several flowers that have hidden meanings. Tulips are a symbol of wealth and beauty, originating from Turkey this maybe why in most of the paintings I have looked at by Jan Davidsz. de Heem the tulips point east, the white rose which can be seen in the bottom left is a symbol of virginity while the three petal pansy in the bottom right was a symbol of the holy trinity. White carnations have become a symbol of love but when that started is unclear.

Could this painting have been commissioned for a merchant’s wife or girlfriend? Could this have been commissioned by the merchant himself? Are the flowers in the painting really symbolising these things or is it just a painting that has been commissioned to display the wealth of the owner as cuttings from his luscious garden?.

Pieter Claesz

Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball Pieter Claesz

Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball Pieter Claesz

The first ‘vanitas’ painting by Pieter Claesz  that caught my eye was ‘Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball’, but is this really a commissioned painting or a painting that was kept in his studio  for clients to see as they walked in, there seems to be far too much iconography for one painting Why is the reflection of the artist seen in the painting? Could this be to show the level of work that he could accomplish for his clients or to be shown off by the person who commissioned the piece, that ‘Pieter Claez really did paint this piece’!

In GADP symbolism  a voilin was often the symbol of learning, knowledge or warning against sinful life . The skull is a reminder that life is short and a warning to put more emphasis on spiritual rather than earthly cares while a spilled glass may imply moderation or fleeting life. If a commissioned, piece could it imply that the owner is a man of knowledge, an educated person (hence the who quill and ink) who is not simply wasting away his short time on earth but using it the best he can?

Part 2 of this research point

Explore the development of still life through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, For example, look at traditional still subjects were dealt with in some early cubist paintings by Brque and Picassso. Investigate how some contemporary artists are interpreting this genre.

Still Life in the 19th Century

I looked at four still life artists from the 18th century these were Jean Siméon Chardin‎, Jan van Huijsum‎, Jean-Baptiste Oudry‎ and Jan Weenix. There were certain differences that I noticed and I have noted them here:

Jan van Huysum Vase of Flowers

Jan van Huysum Vase of Flowers

With floral paintings, 18th century artists were now showing more of the vase than before, I’m not sure whether the vase itself now began to symbolise something other than a luxury, The attention to detail was still there but the paintings began to lose there hyperreal look, maybe the artists of the 18th century were now beginning to look at the painting as a whole, colours were brighter, this could have been down to more pigments being available and if this is so then artists of the eighteenth century could have put less focus on the techniques of the 17th century. Stalks, stems and petals were more expressive, and now showed a life of their own.

Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin Still Life with Bread

Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin Still Life with Bread

More still lifes of this century were painted outdoors, with statues, dogs and dead game now showing off the owners wealth and social status. Artists such as Jean-Baptiste Oudry were now combined superb renderings of the textures of fur and feather with simple backgrounds, While Jean-Baptiste Chardin painted small and simple compositions of food and objects in a most subtle style that both built on the Dutch Golden Age masters, and was to be very influential on 19th-century compositions. Vanitas and religious symbols had now been dropped from commissioned works.

Still Life in the 19th Century

The Luncheon II Claude Monet

The Luncheon II Claude Monet

Artists in the 19th began to break the tradition of the dark background with Claude Monet being one of the first to do so, Moreover, technique and colour harmony began to play more important roles than subject matter. ‘The Luncheon II’ left is a perfect example of this.

Van Gogh made one of the main contributions to floral still life in the 19th century with is ‘Vase of Fifteen Sunflowers.’ But other notable paintings by van Gogh were his version of a ‘vanitas’ painting, ‘Still Life with Open Bible, Candle, and Book’ and ‘Still Life with a Drawing Board’.

Vincent van Gogh  - Still Life with a Drawing Board

Vincent van Gogh – Still Life with a Drawing Board

This was a self portrait in the form of a still life which was a composition of some of his personal items such as pipe, a letter from his brother as well as onions and an inspirational book presented on a table.

Still Life in the 20th Century

Paul Cezanne - Floral Still Life 1914

Paul Cezanne – Floral Still Life 1914

The first few decades of the 20th century produced a string of overlapping movements, gradually reaching total abstraction in the mid century. Paul Cézanne started to experiment with geometric spatial organization using still life to demonstrate elements of colour, line and form.

Cézanne’s experiments lead to the development of the cubist still live movement in the early 20th century. Cubists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris deconstructed objects into pure geometrical forms and planes, their still life’s that often included musical instruments brought the genre to the forefront of artistic innovation for the first time.

Looking at Georges Braque’s ‘Still Life with a musical scroll’ below you can see that his still life composition includes many of the traditional still life subjects that have been present since the Dutch Golden Age of painting including musical instruments. grapes and other fruit.

Still Life with Music Scroll - Georges Braque

Still Life with Music Scroll – Georges Braque

Picasso - Still Life with Violin and Fruit

Picasso – Still Life with Violin and Fruit

Picasso’s Still life with violin and fruit, comprise of still life objects that are barely recogniseable as they merge into the background. This is an example of the synthetic cubist works which achieved goals almost opposite to those of traditional still life.

Still LIfe in Contemporary Art

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Contemporary artists gain influence from past movements but they are also constantly developing there own interpretation of still life.







Working on Different Coloured Grounds 2 – Tonal Study on a Dark Ground

Finished Tonal Study

Finished Tonal Study

As briefed I prepared a dark ground with a dark wash of payne’s grey, this I did on A3 size watercolour paper. I had gone larger with the first painting but this time I stuck to the guidelines in the last exercise, Tonal study on a white ground, having now plucked up a bit of courage and got more confident with the brushes.

Chosen Composition

Chosen Composition

As in the last exercise I used acrylic paint for both the ‘imprimatura’ and the actual painting, I still haven’t plucked up enough confidence to use oils, I think this is because I am very worried about the drying time in my small condominium.

Having just researched ‘chiaroscuro‘ in the last research point, the works of Joseph Wight of Derby and the candlelit studies of Rembrandt really appealed to me and so I chose to do this study by candle light (from a large Buddhist candle that I bought for drawing 1) rather than it being lit from the side with the bendy lamp that I have used in the past.

Because I wanted to employ chiaroscuro effects in this painting the best way to do this was to create a composition that reflected the light best, so I played around with the three subjects that I used for the last exercise until I found a composition that worked well, reflecting light in a dramatic way.

Materials Used for this painting

  • Canson Watercolour Paper (A3)
  • Acryic Paint: Titanium White, Payne’s Grey, Chromium Oxide Green
  • Brushes: Medium Wide (synthetic), Fan, Pointed Round (synthetic), Flat (synthetic) Detail Flat (hog’s bristle) 
  • An old bank card
Empty Calcium Container

Empty Calcium Container

I sat facing the objects with the bendy lamp behind me switching it on as I needed as it was quite difficult to paint the objects in the dark.

For the first object, the empty calcium container I used payne’s grey (undiluted) for the darker shadows leaving the colour of the ground showing through in places for the reflections. I then painted the lighter reflections in a diluted mix of payne’s grey, white and green with highlights in titanium white which I later dulled down in a very dilute mix of green and grey. I then painted a thin line of reflection on the edge of the container by applying paint with an old bank card.

Reflection inside jar

Reflection inside jar

From there I painted the broad band of light reflected inside the vase which was empty for this painting rather than filled with coffee as it was for the last exercise. The reason for painting this part of the jar was so that I knew how far the orange needed to be as i would be painting that next and coming back to the jar as this would be the most difficult part of the painting.

Painting the orange helped me to decide on the tones I would be using for the rest of the painting as up until now I wasn’t sure if I should be putting more of the green in the mixes but as I



started painting the orange I saw that the balance of green grey and white was really nice and so I continued as I was. There is a white line on the bottom of the orange that I can see now as I am typing this that I will have to blend in before it’s finished.

After completing the orange I went back to completing the jar which took a create deal of effort  as I messed up with the reflections and highlights a couple of times and had to paint in and around it and trying to find the right mix of Payne’s grey and white was a difficult task.

Completed jar

Completed jar

I do realize that the aim of these exercises is to focus on tone rather than precision but I do like the objects to be the right shape and if the shape is out I do tend to correct them and with the jar it took some effort.

I think for my first attempt at using (if that’s the correct term) chiaroscuro effects I did quite well. The painting took me less time to complete than the Tonal study on a white ground as i was modeling light rather than painting whole objects, apart from the orange which I actually thought I could leave some of the ground coming through for the darker shadows.

On modeling light: Again for a first attempt I think I did quite well, there is still a lot of the ground showing through so I did use the ground to the best of my ability at this point, painting the reflections and shadows helped me to create the shape of the objects as to just painting them and adding the reflections later.

Comparison: Looking at the two studies I have to say that I prefer this one, it was not only easier and quicker but I think it does look much better and composition as a much more dramatic appearance.

Tonal Study on a White Ground

Tonal Study on a White Ground

Finished Tonal Study

Finished Tonal Study







Technical Difficulties: 

  • Painting in low light: This was extremely awkward and I had to keep turning the lamp behind me on and off.
  • Matching up paint with the coloured ground: There were times when I had to correct mistakes by painting on the ground, by doing this I had to match up the tones, I still haven’t perfected this but I realised I had to go with a very dilute mix and then thicken it up to match up the colours.
  • Painting very thin lines of light/highlights: There were times when I used the edge of a bank card, there were times when I went to thick and then thinned them down by painting against them with a darker colour.
  • Getting the colour mixes right: I used a second sheet of the same dark wash to try out the mixes if I was unsure.