Still Life with Cabbage: 11×14, oil on board
SETTING UP THE STILL LIFE:
I wish that I have some insight regarding setting up a still life (I DON’T). I just placed the objects in random order and paint.
THE PAINTING PROCESS:
Figure 1: I placed the 2 darker masses (the red bottle, the tea pot) on the board and quickly indicate the lighter masses (the cabbages) with a few simple lines. Keep in mind that they’re not in proportion at this stage. I wan to keep the drawing spontaneous as much as possible. For me, a careful drawing at any stage will eventually kill the creative person in me and I will avoid it at all cost. Plus, the act of adjusting (or pushing/pulling) the shapes to get them into proportion will keep the edges soft and interesting. For this painting, I keep a timer on so that I can take a picture at every 10 minutes
Figure 1: placing the main masses of the objects on canvas.
Figure 2: Blocking in colors and values. I tried to guess the correct value and colors of the main objects (red for the bottle, green for the cabbage, and dark purple for the teapot) and placed them in with the least amount of brush strokes.
Figure 3: I was somewhat happy with the color and value of the main objects. It’s time to enhance these colors/values with the background while pay close attention to the passage of light. Whenever I place a stroke down, I make an effort to improve the drawing to its correct placement and proportion.
Figure 3: Adding background with big strokes
Figure 4: This step is not for everybody! Using a palette knife, I scrapped the thick pain away from all surface of the board. This simple step took away the initial brush strokes and reduce the whole board to a mere color impression (see next picture). For the background, where I know that its details should be reduced to improve the focal point, instead of scrapping, I pressed the palette knife down and create pattern.
Figure 4: scrapping the whole painting off
Figure 5: After the scrapping. The image is still there! But now there is NO brush mark. The reason why I employ this step nowadays is to avoid making mud on my main subject. Plus, I want the initial crude brushwork (during the composition finding/blocking in) won’t interfere with the final brush mark which usually designed to follow the contour of the object, lighting, and value pattern. These later strokes require more dexterity skill and thinking during execution.
Figure 5: after Scrapping.
Figure 6: NOW, start with the green cabbage in the middle, I start putting in the detail. Again, I continue to take picture at 10-15 minutes interval to see how I progress.
Figure 6: Painting details: Green Cabbage
Figure 7: Finishing the final detail for the cabbage and moving on to the next subject. I made a clear discipline (for myself) that I will not touch any portion of the painting that is deemed “finished”. IF I decide to rework on an object, that area will be again scrapped off and repainted. It is mainly to keep the fresh alla prima look through out the whole picture. Of course, at the end, I will make sure that the highlights are included
Figure 7: painting cabbage (detail)
Figure 8: Painting the tea pot. The dark purple is created from Ultramarine Blue (Rembrandt) and Alizarin permanent (Gamblin)
Figure 8: Next object: tea pot
Figure 9: Now I concentrate to work on the red bottle. I have to tone down the Cadmium red down with Alizarin since it become much much brighter placing next to the green cabbage.
Figure 9: Painting the red bottle
Figure 10: Working on the background a little
Figure 10: next object:
Figure 11: The color of the actual salad trunk was about the same intensity of the cabbage. However, in order to focus the focal point to the cabbage, I reduced the value and intensity of the salad trunk (and the broccoli in the back)… And everything seem to fall into places.
Figure 11: painting the details of the salad trunk (and broccoli)
Figure 12: Finishing! I placed the signature (for now) but I will have to take a final look after the whole painting is dry. You can eliminate repainting the shadow (and dark background which usually become lighter when it dries) by reduce the amount of medium (oil or turpenoid) in your paint. I simply don’t use any medium at all (may be 4 drops of oil on my palette and that’s it!)
Figure 12: Soften up some detail. Signature…and done