I’m so glad I did this exercise again! There were some areas I really wanted to take another run at: the background color, reflected light and highlight on the cherry, and the shaping of the stem. I think they’re all largely improved from the first version except for the stem getting a little too thin.
I had a lot of fun scrubbing in that background and shadows. The cooler tone sets the cherry off well.
For the reflected light and highlight, I switched to a small flat synthetic hog brush, and approached it as more of a soft stroke applied carefully instead of a rough feathering in. It helped make it look more like it belonged there, whereas in the first painting the reflected light looks obviously applied and chalky. I took a similar approach on the highlight — instead of trying to paint the exact shape in the reference photo, I thought more about what would actually look good as a highlight in paint. Again, I feel like it looks more like it belongs on the surface of the cherry instead of being applied and abrupt.
|The first painting of this exercise (left) next to the second (right).|
I’ve also enjoyed experimenting with different painting surfaces. I’m making a few linen-covered panels with some linen from my fabric stash. It’s nice when my sewing and art-making intersect!
And one of the things I’m most enthusiastic about is how even though I wasn’t interested in this subject, it totally didn’t matter once I started working. It became about seeing the values and colors, and the problem-solving of how to make the paint tell the story of the subject. It was a good step toward not naming the parts, and instead looking at the “ingredients” as Dianne Mize says.