100 Starts – numbers 21-30

Continuing my 100 Starts, based on Kevin Macpherson’s prompt…

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 21-30
Numbers 21-30 of the “100 Starts” exercise, painted in oil

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20

Number 21 notes

After number 20’s drab color scheme, I wanted to infuse a bit more lightness into this one. I pushed harder to get the light family light enough to also bring the shadow family up in value a bit. The shadow side of the yellow cube is looking good, but the cast shadow is too dark to hold together well next to it.

Number 22 notes

For this one I bright in a bright blue sheet of paper to set the still life up on. My goal was to look quickly at the color shapes and go with my first instinct, as opposed to looking so hard that everything goes to grey tones. I think that was pretty successful.

I also switched up the initial color notes process a bit. After putting in the lightest light and darkest dark, I put in the darkest light and lightest dark. I’m hoping that by establishing the boundaries of the light family and shadow family I’ll give myself a more clear range for each family and avoid crossing them.

Number 23 notes

Wonky drawing aside, I love the colors in this one — so smooth and mellow. I use a neutral grey paper palette to mix the colors on, and have realized that the darkness of the paper is influencing my values. So in addition to establishing the lightest and darkest colors in the light and shadow families, I worked harder to use the mid value grey as a comparison to the color being mixed. I believe that previously my mind was framing the grey as white, making everything skew darker than I was actually seeing in the still life.

Number 24 notes

I switched things up from the colored blocks to one of our dogs’ toys to start working in more complicated forms, colors, and textures. It was nice to have just one object to paint, but it was definitely more challenging to see where the light and shadow families were. The furry fabric and curvy shape made it much less obvious to distinguish the form shadows so I looked for the extremes and jumped in.

I’m excited to do some color mixing exercises from various blog posts, videos, and books to get more familiar with my pigments and see what they’ll do.

Number 25 notes

Same idea as number 24, just with the toy in a different position. I pushed the colors in the light family a little lighter which helps make the shadow shapes contrast more. I think there are some really interesting shapes going on with the shadow family, and when I stand back or view a thumbnail of the exercise I can definitely read what’s happening with the light being cast on the toy.

I also worked on making the composition more interesting by avoiding equal spaces around the subject. He kind of looks like he’s marching across the page (or maybe creeping across).

Number 26 notes

I’ve been wanting to set up my still life outside and get some experience painting in natural light outdoors, and today I finally had time to give it a shot. I hauled my materials to the back deck and painted under a cloudy sky. With all of the newness of the experience, I didn’t keep a very good eye on my composition and drawing, but decided to keep going in order to stay moving quickly.

Despite my desire to make quick decisions and not draw out these exercises, I would like to find a way to look at the subject more. It’s easy to get shapes really messed up when I spend more time looking at the panel than the still life!

It was rather warm outside (we’re running about 10° above normal temps right now) but there’s some plant that’s flowering in the back yard that smells absolutely amazing and made up for the heat.

Number 27 notes

Back inside my studio for this exercise. I picked another dog toy for the study, and placed it on an intensely-blue paper. It’s a plush shark that we got for Pipsqueak at the shark reef in Las Vegas several years ago. There’s no squeaker inside but she loves that thing! The paper is a rich cyan, which I won’t get with my current set of primaries (cad yellow light, naphthol red, and ultramarine blue) so I went for approximating the value as it relates to the toy. On the toy itself, I was surprised to see how yellow the gray was. When it’s sitting on the floor I always thought it looked like a very cool grey. Maybe there’s just a cast reflecting off of my studio walls, which are a tan color.

I like the way the chin/underbelly area reads as white in shadow, in contrast to the warmer grey body in shadow. And since I finished just shy of my 30-minute goal, I went in with some lighter highlights. I wasn’t sure if that was considered too detailed for this challenge, but the shapes are still very simple so I think it’s worth doing.

Number 28 notes

I grabbed a couple of bananas from the counter and placed them with colored papers to explore some new shapes and shadow colors. I’m happy with the shapes of the bananas, especially since they’re foreshortened. And I’m loving the color of the light and shadow shapes of the bananas! One area that gave me trouble was the dark brown ends nearest the light source. They seemed quite dark to me — in fact those were my “darkest darks” as I got started. But after I laid that color down I thought about how any color in the light family will be lighter than any color in the shadow family. Rather than get hung up on it I kept going, but if I were to do it over I’d change the color to read better as light family.

Number 29 notes

I found a sad little clementine in our fruit drawer this morning and thought it would make a nice subject to paint. And I’ve enjoyed painting the banana and candle jar so those three things together made my still life setup for this exercise. I wanted to go fast on the drawing stage, placing my images quickly and accurately enough to make sense visually but not worrying too much about being exact.

I also changed up the size — instead of making two studies on an 11×14 panel, I split it into 4 parts to get roughly 5x7s. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! It allows me to use less paint, smaller brushes, and fill in the shapes more quickly.

I’m happy with how this one turned out. Every time I switch from painting the shadow shapes to the shapes in the light family it’s a little thrilling the way it all pulls together like magic.

Number 30 notes

I had a heck of a time with color accuracy on this one! My initial color (the light part of the banana) was too light and cool, and that probably threw me off for the rest of the color shapes. I feel good about the drawing for the most part — it’s exciting to be getting quicker with drawing more complex compositions. I’m getting stingy with paint again, which may have influenced the color challenges. Next time more paint!

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