Friday, February 24, 2012

"Watermelon, Carrots, and Red Onions" (oil on linen; 11" x 14")

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Still life setup

My teacher, John Murray, decided to shake things up this week.  He apparently thought we were becoming lazy!  He put the table in the middle of the room and began to pull out one thing after another from a grocery bag until he came up with the above setup.  He asked us whether we would like to have a cut honey dew as well.  We said no!  We were looking down at the whole mess of things against whatever happened to be across the room from where we were standing.  Some students couldn't even see the beautiful red onions; others had a lot of the crumpled kitchen towel to deal with.

As you can see in my painting, I cut much of the towel.  Clever me!  I had other problems, such as the delicate leafage of the carrots and the papery skins of the onions.  What stumped me the most, however, was the color temperature.  Somehow I painted it too warm as if I was painting in sunset.  I had to cool it down and more. 

Although the setup was mainly illuminated by the artificial yellow light, there was also the cool natural light filtering through the blinds from the windows.  Because of the double light sources, some highlights were warm and others, cool.  Fascinating.  I don't know for sure what caused the cast shadows of the onions to turn green, but I painted it as I saw.  The more I paint, the more I realize that painting is really an exercise in seeing.  The weekly still life painting class has been one of the most valuable learning experiences.  More to come next week.  Yeah!