Urning for You, 14"x11" demonstration
Last week I taught a three-day workshop on Painting the Still Life in Modern Impressionism. The participants painted four simple set-ups the first day in order to learn to see masses of value and color and large shapes that hold together. The second day they painted four slightly more difficult ones incorporating different types of lighting ideas. Day three we worked together to design and set up larger, more complex still lifes and everyone created a final, large masterpiece.
Learning to ignore labels like "vase," "apple," "doughnut," "rose," and instead seeing connected shapes is a huge step in painting this way. Even once you can see it, there is a huge temptation to start painting "things" way too early in the process. For long periods of time, the painting basically looks like little of nothing. You are painting "through" objects rather than outlining them and filling them in. Slowly and methodically these large shapes can be broken down into slightly smaller shapes until, in the final 10% of the process, just the right amount of information is divided into the smallest pieces and, wah-lah, the image appears.
I remember one of the first demonstrations I saw painted this way. It was a little like magic. It was a portrait demonstration and I could not imagine that this artist was actually going to pull a person's face out of that abstract, juicy, paint mess. Last week, as I painted the opening demonstration for this workshop, the students looked eager but totally lost at what I was painting. In the end, the image did, indeed, appear, and I had them hooked!
Viewing the painting close up, the painting still looks like random pieces of paint. But as you step back, it pops into focus. Similarly, images on my website tend to look more tightly rendered than the same painting when you view it in person. Here is detail from the painting shown above. See what I mean?