100 Starts – numbers 41-50

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

100 Starts - Kevin Macpherson prompt - Days 41-50
Numbers 41-50 of my 100 Starts project

Numbers 1-10
Numbers 11-20
Numbers 21-30
Numbers 31-40

Number 41 notes

I don’t know what the heck I was thinking choosing a stainless steel bowl for this study. It’s like none of the normal light/shadow principles apply — the light and reflections were all over the place and it took me a long time to decide what to color as in light and in shadow.

Crazy bowl aside, I love the lemon (this angle worked much better than Number 40) and the cast shadows on the orange surface. Really yummy colors. I used size 4 brushes instead of the little 2s I’d been using and tried to paint slow and steady to keep the edges and shapes the way I wanted.

Number 42 notes

I continue to be stumped by dark objects being struck by light, and how to keep them lighter than the shadow family. I’m sure it’s my mental preconception of what “dark” colors look like. This brown onion on a dark blue kitchen towel would be improved by making the shadow family of the onion darker, making more of a differentiation between its shadow side and the towel in light.

Number 43 notes

Today I had fun picking out some new items for still life options at a thrift shop, plus a cute gourd from the grocery store. I love fall! The little olive green ceramic pitcher will be nice to work with. In this start, the color isn’t warm enough so I look forward to painting it again and getting the temperature closer. I think I can do better on the deep green portion of the gourd, too. With this new batch of objects, it might be smart to pick one at a time to study.

Number 44 notes

Drawing the little gourd was a serious exercise in foreshortening. It was really cool with this one to see the color in the form shadow on the gourd caused by the reflected light of the orange paper it was sitting on. I had a really hard time getting that orange paper to look right — every time I added yellow to lighten and brighten it, it got less red. But when I added white to increase the value, it got dull. But overall I’m pretty happy with this start.

Number 45 notes

For this little olive green pitcher, I learned I don’t yet have the brush control for the size brushes I chose to use. But it makes me wonder about doing a version of it with more angular curves. I think it would help me make the shapes of the subject more accurately — by doing long, smooth strokes I tend to fill in areas I don’t mean to. Would be worth a try!

Number 46 notes

Instead of the hog bristle brushes I’ve typically been using, for this one I switched to a couple of synthetic bristle flats (a Silver Brush Bristlon size 8 and a Princeton 6300 size 4). I thought these would give me sharper lines for doing the angular curves I wanted to try, and for the most part they did a good job of that. I wish I’d used the larger one for the white rim of the bowl though — the small one was too choppy.

I think this start looks great from a distance or as a small thumbnail on the computer. I love the contrast that’s happening in it and the shapes of the shadow on the lemon. This setup would be fun to finish as a complete painting, with the warm objects in cool light resting on the cool grey surface.

Number 47 notes

For the most part I’m happy with the colors in this one. Two areas I would do differently: the shadow inside the red bowl is too light, and the light the outside is too dark. I think I’m doing a better job with the shadow family in general though, by not making the colors too dark in relation to the color notes around them.

I’m trying not to let my rough brushwork distract me from the bigger picture of laying down accurate colors. The perfectionist in my is really struggling with that! It can be a future focused practice though. For now I want to continue concentrating on those color relationships.

Number 48 notes

This was one of those where I really had to fight through the ugly stage. One breakthrough for me with painting this little pitcher was to see the shadow inside the spout area as a single shape, rather than seeing the positive shape of the light rim around it. That made drawing the shape so much easier. I’m happy with the colors on the pitcher, and the brushwork on the thin rim area is improved over the last one. Instead of trying to paint a continuous thin line, I did shorter, straight strokes. It was a moment of remembering that this is paint on a brush, and it could look painterly. Doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.

Number 49 notes

Over the weekend I took a look at my planning for the rest of 2018, and if I want to finish these 100 Starts by the end of the year I need to pick up the pace!

I enjoy working with these new still life objects, and wanted to see what it would be like to pair a little bowl with one of the wood blocks. Things were going well until I reached a serious dilemma: the tall face of the dark grey block, which was in the light family, was absolutely darker than the shadow inside the bowl. What to do?? I think in hindsight, it would have made sense to go lighter on the block to clearly distinguish it from the shapes in the shadow family.

One thing I loved about painting this setup was how the top of the grey block took on a purple hue (the red-orange paper backdrop reflecting into the blue-grey block) and the side of the block directly facing the light had a cooler, blue-grey hue from the cool light of the bulb. The cast shadows were also filled with colors reflected from the red-orange backdrop.

Number 50 notes

Made it to the half way mark, whew. In some ways I can’t believe I’ve only been doing this challenge for 2 months because it feels like much longer. I guess a lot of life has happened since September 10. At Number 18, I switched from acrylics to oils (with a few gouache thrown in there while traveling) and I think that transition is working well. I’m glad to be getting experience with the oils in a way that’s low pressure and not meant to be complete.

Number 46 — a lemon in a little yellow bowl — was by far my favorite start from this set. I’m discovering how much the direction of the light and where it falls onto the forms is critical to how a shape reads. Like with that lemon, if the little nub end is what makes it look like a lemon. Without it, it’s just a boring yellow sphere, which I learned back in Number 40.

I’m not sure if it’s all the browns or what, but I didn’t get much joy in painting today’s teapot. It might be that all of the elliptical shapes around the top got me in a grumpy mood…I’m happy with the separation of light and shadow families though.

On to the next 50!

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