Still life study of 3 onions

still life study of onions Mar-7-2019
Used the 3-value underpainting to establish shapes and guide the color values

Study topics

3-value plan; monochromatic wipe-out underpainting; pre-mixing colors on palette

Process notes

Toned canvas with transparent earth red thinned with Gamsol, then drew in the shapes with the same paint using a synthetic round brush. Lifted out lights and added thicker areas of darks, leaving the toned canvas as the middle value.

underpainting and first colors of still life study of onions Mar-7-2019
The underpainting in transparent earth red, with the first spots of color applied

Pre-mixed my basic set of colors before starting on my new wood panel.

I wanted to do less scrubbing in of color and more laying down of single strokes, so I used Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel to make the paint move more smoothly with the flat hog bristle brush.

Panel: cotton duck canvas mounted to mat board, coated with gesso and sanded relatively smooth.

What I learned

My homemade panels for doing studies soak up the oil paints so quickly that doing the lifting out was very difficult even with mineral spirits on my rag. I’m learning more about that and it seems to be either the gesso or the paper board — perhaps why so many professional painters recommend oil-primed linen. I have a sample of that to try soon.

The synthetic brush I chose for the underpainting was a lousy match for this canvas panel because it was too soft and flimsy against it, but might work better on some of the Fredrix canvas sheets I have. They’re slicker feeling than the panel I made myself that has a rather absorbent gesso.

I really liked using the solvent-free gel! It made the paint go on much more smoothly than when I don’t use it, and doesn’t thin the paint like adding linseed oil.

I had intended to leave some of the underpainting color peeking through but during the course of painting totally forgot about it. I want to do that next time, as well as try a different underpainting color.

I’m loving the different colors in the shadow shapes of the white onion. They were fun to spot with my color isolator and mix up on my palette. The variations give a lot of life to that whole area. I also like how the values of the table top and top of the white onion are the same which made a subtle edge there.

I also really enjoyed using my new wooden panel. I sealed a piece of baltic birch plywood with wipe-on polyurethane, and I’m hoping the light and natural color helps me improve my color mixing experience. Pre-mixing the colors made me slow down and really observe what colors I saw and gave me a clear family of colors to work with when I needed to adjust for details.