Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘fruit painting’

Hoo-boy.  This painting refused to cooperate.  Fighting through a “boring” comment, wrestling with too-dull-red oranges, and a square composition, I forced my painting to sing. I think.

I’m still not sure if it turned out okay, if I have to be honest.  It was a struggle from the get-go.  Over the week, I read an article that refreshed my somewhat muddled brain about color theory.  I LOVE color theory, but I had forgotten about some of the finer points, having not painted for three years.  So I set about designing a painting based on the complementary theme of Blue Green vs. Red Orange, Orange, and Red.  I also challenged myself to a square canvas.  I had a berry photo that I thought would work well here, playing off the grids of the background and containers with the circular form of the fruit.  Here’s the start:

Starting with a square canvas of plexiglass, I drew in the berries.

Starting with a square canvas of plexiglass, I drew in the berries.

You can see the grids of collaged paper in the background in my messy (but come on, it’s creative, so it’s messy) studio.

Next step, flinging paint:

Laying in the red orange colors

Laying in the red orange colors

This is the fun part, laying in super-charged colors next to each other and letting them run. Looking back on this, though, I chose to paint with Daniel Smith’s Napthol Red, which, though it is a nice color when wet, becomes a little dead when dry and is very staining.  I wish I had gone with my usual, the friendly, the colorful, the happy Quinacridone Red from Daniel Smith.

Mixing Napthol Red and Cerulean Blue

Mixing Napthol Red and Cerulean Blue. The complementary colors are placed right next to each other while they are wet.  You can see them beginning to bleed into one another and create not only a blurred line, but interesting colors and texture.

I love mixing the super-charged colors next to each other and watching the action.

The first wash:

First Looks:  Blocking in the colors

First Looks: Blocking in the colors

Okay, okay, this is a horrible photo, but you get the idea.  You can see where I’ve blocked in the colors and let them bleed together.  I began to get a feel for the composition here, though  I wish I had done my usual thumbnail sketch with this piece to get a better idea with value placement and composition.  Hmmm…it’s not singing and I’m not so sure about it, but I’m trudging on.  Like I always say, every painting has it’s teenage phase.  Sorry kids…

Mid-way through the painting.  I've created some detail in the fruit forms.

Mid-way through the painting. I’ve created some detail in the fruit forms.

This painting still didn’t sing.  I wasn’t if it was the colors or the layout or what.  So I did the smart thing (?), I presented it to my teenage son.

“Well, Mom.  You know?” (tap, tap, tap on the ITouch).  “What?  What do I know?”  “You know…(long pause)”  No, I really didn’t know.  That’s why I was asking him.  A bit difficult when his eyes were so trained on his little screen thing.  “Earth to son…what do you think of the painting?”  “Yeeeaahhhh…it’s a little boring, Mom”.  Sheesh.  Like pulling teeth.  But it gave me an idea.  Which was the whole point.  Remove the oranges.

Releasing the oranges from their somewhat "boring" location on the painting.  Covering the oranges with gesso.

Releasing the oranges from the painting, with their somewhat “boring” location, their dead color, and their too-straight horizon line. I covered the oranges with gesso, thus sending them to orange heaven.

Go away, oranges!  You are too boring and add nothing to the painting.  Too much orange and blue fought one another.  When using complementary color schemes, one color needs to dominate.  The oranges and blues were too equal in amount and intensity.  Also, the orange line on the horizon was too straight.

Post orange removal. You can see that I also took away the area in the foreground.

Post orange removal. You can see that I also took away the fruit in the foreground. Does it look better?

What do you think?  I looked at this for a day.  Took it back to the son, who was involved in an ITouch game with his brother. Both were engrossed in the game, both were semi-involved with the conversation, both thought the painting was still boring.  What is it with this boring thing?  I’ll tell ya what’s boring.  How about playing on the ITouch for hours? How about that being boring?  Huh? Huh? Deaf ears.  Anyway, my solution:

Rectangles added to the background and foreground.

Rectangles added to the background and foreground.

When I’m in Pike’s Place Market, there are many windows, signs and square containers.  I always like the window/rectangle grid in my work, and added them there, reminding me of the windows and adding a counter to the round fruit. The grids, hopefully, also removed the “boring” word from the painting’s now-established identification.

Alas, I had to noodle some more:

Finished for now.

Finished for now.

I removed the rectangles from the foreground, so I had a sense that the containers were on a surface.  I also darkened the area in the lower LH corner.  I haven’t come up with a name for the painting yet, but darned if I WON’T call it “Boring”.  What do you all think?  Was this painting a success?  Have any ideas for a name?

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Gesso prep for Grapefruit Splash

I started a new painting this week!  I love how this one turned out!  Watch my steps to get inspired.

Grapefruit Splash Prep Work:  Starting with the photo, below right, I applied gesso over an old painting on plexiglass.  While the gesso was still wet, I pulled a plaster tool through it to form grid-like patterns on the painting surface.  Vertical and horizontal lines add contrast to the organic shapes of the fruit, as well as texture and structure to an otherwise organic/spherical composition.

Once the composition was drawn in, the fun began.  Crazy painter alert!! Watercolors were flying everywhere!  I have to remember not to wear my “good” clothes when I do this.

Grapefruit Splash First Wash

Grapefruit Splash First Wash

Here is the first wash, using the big watercolor brush you see in the photo, which keeps me loose.  The composition sings in this, with the focal point in the lower LH third of the painting.  I’ve chosen a contrasting color theme of purple and yellow.  My thought here was to paint a high-value painting, with the deep dark purple in the upper LH side providing a stark contrast to the yellow grapefruit and push the lights to seem even brighter.

Grapefruit Splash Second Wash

Grapefruit Splash Second Wash

I LOVE the cut-open grapefruit sections! As I painted, I noticed my whites needed to be brighter.  With watercolor paper, it can be difficult to retrieve whites once they are gone. On a gessoed surface, I can either wet the paint and remove it with a damp cloth, or, as in this case, paint over it with watercolor ground or gesso:

Applying gesso over the areas I want to be bright white

Applying gesso over the areas I want to be bright white

This gave my white patches on my grapefruit a clear, bright white.  I also brightened up my sign in the same manner. After it dried, I sanded the edges slightly and went on painting, carefully avoiding the white patches.

Concentrating on the focal point, I added detail to the grapefruit sections.

Concentrating on the focal point, I added detail to the grapefruit sections.

Since the focal point is the cut section of grapefruit, I paid special attention to it’s detail, making sure the brightest colors, whitest whites, and most convincing attributes were here.

This close-up shows the detail and structure the gesso grids provide to the painting.

This close-up  illustrates the detail and structure the gesso grids provide the painting.

Final product.  This painting was so much fun that I couldn’t leave it alone until I finished.  Well, sort-of.  A week passed from start to finish, with work, family time, laundry, and the inevitable dirty floors.  Does this painting inspire you to get the paint out?

Finished! Grapefruit Splash. Watercolor on Plexiglass. 21x31

Finished! Grapefruit Splash. Watercolor on Plexiglass. 21×31

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