Ten-minute apples challenge

10 Minute Apples exercise Mar 31 2019
Ten-minute apples (minus the upper left)

Study topics

Ten-minute apples exercise from Daily Painting by Carol Marine — Painting from life; color mixing; time limit; simplified brush strokes

Process notes

Divided an 11×14 sheet into 12 units and toned it with a warm mid-tone color. This sheet was a poster board that had two layers of acrylic gesso, lightly sanded, plus a layer of acrylic matte medium to reduce absorbency. Premixed the basic colors before starting. Sketched in each apple with same color I used for the toned background on a size 2 Silver White filbert brush. Used primarily a mix of size 4 synthetic bristle brushes and a safflower/linseed oil mixture to make the oil paint flow well off the brushes.

Set a timer for ten minutes before painting each apple, except for the first one in the upper left which I used no time limit for. Painted them in two sessions, changing the lighting conditions and background after the first session and rotating the apple every once in awhile.

What I learned

Yikes, ten minutes goes so fast! I got hung up with details quite a bit, and didn’t complete very many of them. Next time I would probably try painting the basic shapes of light and shadow families, then go back with the more specific areas of light once everything was blocked in. The way I did these, I basically adjusted the paint color with each stroke as I worked around the apple and ran out of time because of it. This would also help me gauge things like the value of the reflected light because I consistently made it too dark. 
I really like that by painting the same thing repeatedly I became familiar with it and learned from lots of little mistakes quickly. There were some areas where I kept trying the same thing over and over, but it wasn’t working well. Eventually I came to see that I could suggest and simplify what I was seeing without being so literal about it.
Using the matte medium over the gessoed paper was an experiment and I was so happy with how it turned out that I’m going to prep some other sheets like this for studies. It was easy to tone, and before it dried I could wipe out lighter areas with a rag. I also read about a recipe of 50/50 modeling paste and acrylic gesso to help reduce absorbency that I’m trying out as well. 
Another little breakthrough I had was with the synthetic bristle brushes: it had been difficult for me to get the paints to flow off of them like I wanted, and using the safflower/linseed oil helped tremendously. Curious to see what the additional oil does to the drying time…