Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tin Ring Box SOLD

6 x 6 inches, oil on panel
This is a tiny engraved box smaller than one inch across. Since the subject is small and monochromatic, and the painting itself is small, I expected to spend an hour or two on it. I ended up spending four hours!

My goal was to experiment with loose, interesting brushstrokes that also describe an accurate and precise form. I find ellipses to be one of the most challenging shapes to draw with accuracy. You can see from my process shots below how the shape wobbles and falls apart and comes back together at the end:

Phase 1
I started with a Raw Umber oil sketch on an acrylic toned panel.

Phase 2
I started fleshing out the basic forms with a gray-green I mixed from cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, some magenta, and some white. It looks murky because I am trying to keep everything soft and indistinct while I work out the proportions and placement - not very pretty, but easier to change things if I need to.

Phase 3
This is the fun part - I start swirling in some details with a light green gray to finalize the drawing phase and establish the full range of values. The paint is not very thick and the the red panel beneath is still showing through, but the basic elements are all in place.

Phase 4
I find that almost every painting I do has a "crisis period", and here it is. I lose control and I get a little panicky trying to move it back towards the painting I see in my head. Here the painting has dissolved into wobbly ellipses and pasty shadows - the result of a dirty brush and losing the structure of the drawing while I focus on the details. How much prettier my process would be if I could just jump from Phase 3 to the final painting. But as much as I hate it, the "crisis phase" is always a learning experience.

Phase 5, final painting
Ok, I managed to pull the painting together to a place where I am happy with it and it stands as a finished piece. The ellipses are precise and convincing while the overall style is loose and dynamic. I lost some of the most expressive brushstrokes of Phase 3, so I still have to work on that, but it's been a good exercise for me. I compare this to my previous monochromatic still life, Vase and Creamer done just 7 weeks ago, and feel I have already learned a lot through my Daily Painting practice.