100 Starts – numbers 31-40

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

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 31-40
Numbers 31-40 of my 100 Starts project

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20
Numbers 21-30

Number 31 notes

One of my goals with this start was to use more paint than the last one. I did fairly well with that, except at the beginning. And I added a new shape: the occlusion shadow under the clementine. I love it! I’m going to start watching for a deeper occlusion shadow on the next starts as well.

I really do not like painting this bowl. It’s cool in real life, but the different colors of wood within it don’t come across as well in paint.

Number 32 notes

Challenging myself with another dog toy, this one more complex than the previous toys. The drawing looks pretty good to me, but I didn’t go dark enough with some of the shadow shapes. Or I didn’t go light enough with the cast shadow. There are parts of this toy that are black, and it felt really strange to make the black in direct light as light as I did! But I wanted to trust the advice and give it a try.

Number 33 notes

We went camping this weekend and I wanted to bring my gouache paints instead of oils. On the way to our campground, we stopped at the Joe’s Cheap Art Stuff outlet in Boone, NC, and I tried not to go overboard stocking up. I was happy to see they stock large tubes of Winton oil paint, so I picked up a cadmium yellow pale hue, a neutral grey glass palette, some upgraded watercolor (and gouache) flat brushes, and a couple other miscellaneous things. I was super impressed with their brush selection — lots of lines that I haven’t seen in the stores before.

I picked a camping mug and spoon from our silverware drawer for my study. New brushes plus the fact that I haven’t used the gouache much lately plus poor lighting made for a mediocre start. Plus, I tried to include way too much detail — a good lesson on keeping Kevin’s simple starts in mind. Oh well. On the upside, I was so bummed by this one that it made me do a little playing in my sketchbook where I painted a couple of gouache seaside landscapes from my head. They turned out pretty neat! Just little thumbnails, but it totally lifted my spirits.

Number 34 notes

Another camping trip study. Our little dog, Pipsqueak, was barking and whining at me the entire time I made this one, so it was quite frustrating. I was trying to make the gouache thick and opaque vs. thin and watercolor-like, and the brushes are a little bit soft so there’s a lot of texture between the color shapes. It’s not what I was going for, but I don’t mind the roughness of it. I do wish there weren’t white spots of the paper showing though. Once again, really bad lighting in the camper.

Number 35 notes

I was determined to do at least one plein air style start this trip! The weather was cold and rainy on our last morning there so I did this from inside the truck. There was a beautiful lookout onto a lake with overcast skies and deep green reflections of the trees in the water. I liked the blue mountain in the distance. My values are all over the place — partly because gouache changes value when it dries, but also because landscapes are hard! I tried to go easy on myself because I’m so new to them, but it was a bit of a let-down. But I guess if I were good at them right out of the gate that wouldn’t make the journey so rewarding.

And I encountered that situation that other artists warn about: I ran out of yellow on my palette and instead of putting more out I tried to make do with what I had. Not a smart idea. It just led to more struggles and made it impossible to get the right colors.

Number 36 notes

I was excited to be back to oils for this one, and to be able to put down a bunch of my new yellow paint without hesitation. I’m working on improving my color identification and mixing skills, so as I made note of the colors in this study I referred to my color wheel and identified the hue and intensity in order to mix them up. I didn’t do a good job of noting the values though, so I’ll need to start getting that into the process, too. I keep thinking about when I learned how to drive and how it seemed impossible that a person could keep track of all of the things and still watch the road. But it became easier in time and I’m hoping that’s how this will get, too.

Number 37 notes

Did a few different things on this one: went back to sketching a notan thumbnail before making my drawing on the panel, premixed my colors for the main elements (the apple, lime, background, and table top), used the color isolator much less, and held up a black brush handle to compare the shadow values to it. I was starting to feel overwhelmed by too many decisions to make all at once and and thought taking it step by step would help me feel more control over things. I think doing a quick thumbnail first helps me see the subject better and be more prepared for drawing and locating shadow shapes on the panel accurately.

Premixing the colors helped because I had been feeling like I was flailing and guessing too much mixing colors one at a time. It felt ineffective and inefficient, given my goal of 30 minutes or less on painting these. I didn’t really keep an eye on the clock for this one because I didn’t want to feel rushed while trying out the premixing approach.

Number 38 notes

I took several days off from painting while a friend was visiting, which was a nice break. But it felt great to get my brushes back in action! I picked an onion and head of garlic for this one, switching the location of the light but I didn’t notice how similar the composition was to Number 37. I had fun with this one because I didn’t get obsessed with trying to make the color shapes perfect — I just focused on getting close and making the relationships work. I was excited to see after doing a 2-color posterization effect in Photoshop that the light and shadow families held true. I also think the colors are more interesting because I didn’t over mix the colors on my palette or overwork the brush strokes. I like the variety that resulted in the color shapes and I feel like there’s a hint of warm vs. cool happening that’s intriguing.

Number 39 notes

The seemingly simple arrangement of a lemon and mug on a blue coaster revealed a lot more complexity than I initially thought! When I first started this one I didn’t entirely notice just how many different color shapes there were in the coaster, between the white trim and cast shadows from the lemon and mug. But this was a fantastic exercise to practice seeing the shapes and not the objects. While painting, I didn’t think about cast shadows exactly, rather focusing on the color notes of each shape in those cast shadows. So when I finished, I was delighted to see that the colors I painted really made it look like a shadow that went across the blue coaster and onto the cream-colored cloth that everything sat on.

I wish the parts of the mug in the light family were lighter — they fall too much into the shadow family. I also think the lemon would work much better if the background color were different because it really gets lost due to the similarities in value.

Number 40 notes

More dramatic cropping with this one, but it’s a little difficult to tell what the object on the left is. I’m happy with the light and shadow families because the values read well. I wonder what it would take to make the lemon look more like a lemon…

Number 40 feels like a milestone! I’m happy to be shaking up the still life objects and may need to hit the produce aisle just for some new things to paint.

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