Simplifying the Edges –

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Good morning.  Today I’m talking about a painting I had at the Flower Pepper Gallery’s Summer Show.  This is a still life of orchid leaves inside a copper pot with an orange.  In the setup, there was also a pear, but I knew I wouldn’t finish the pear if I added it – and the composition made it look very odd, too close to the edge of the panel, so I made the decision to leave it out.

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Composition: When I’m coming up with an idea of how I want my painting to look, I often take a photo, and crop that photo to the size of my canvas on my phone.  This way – I can see different placements of my objects and how they would affect the viewers eye.  I also use the View Finder (the small gray square with retractable window) for finding composition, but in this case I did it on my phone.  Since I had trouble with the pear, I left it out entirely.

Painting: You can see here that I have in more or less simplified ALL areas of my colours that will be taking up the whole painting.  This is only about 30-40 minutes in.  A huge advantage of this is that if I don’t want to get too detailed, I can simply leave it as is, and its a more abstract painting.  If I don’t “finish” I won’t have something that looks clearly unfinished, I’ll have a fully realized painting, just some areas will be more abstract than others.

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Here I’ve started to add some details, particularly the large swathes of lights and shadows on the copper and leaves.  Pay attention to each object as it’s own object, so a full value range for the leaves, and also the object as it relates to other objects.  Some of the darkest areas on the painting ended up in the leaves, and the leaves and orange both have reflections on the copper pot.

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The finished painting.  As you can see I really enjoy painting copper and shiny objects.  It was a fun challenge to show the warm light and the two soft, cool, window lights that also affected the pot.  I loved doing the reflection of the orange, and pushing that dark shadow in the leaves that really made this pop.

Thank you for reading.

Process Part One – Painting the Portrait by K.L. Britton Los Angeles Artist

These past two days I’ve been working on a more detailed portrait, so I thought it would be fun to document the process to some extent.  I know I’ve previously written about the drawing I did to prepare for this, and watch as all of my predictions come true (the same problems I had with the drawing, I have with the painting!)

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

I do an under-drawing first.  You can find several examples of under-drawings farther back in my blog. Then in this case, I wanted to start with huge areas of wet paint to work into.  In this picture, I’ve blocked in only my light areas.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

With the shadows blocked in.  Notice that in the first picture, my model looks like he has quite a warm skin tone, but as I add the warm shadows, you can see that the skin is actually on the gray side.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

Adding more depth here.  One trouble I run into is that when I do the cool lighting, the shadows should be generally “warm.”  However, often my warmer tones don’t get quite dark enough to really show my form.  Here I’ve utilized mixing my favorite warm shadow colour, burnt sienna, with ivory black, which is a cool black often used to mix blues.  The burnt sienna disappears into the black, however the eye can tell that it’s there and it’s correct.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

Last night I started working more closely on the features, starting in with a smaller paintbrush than one I used for my large block ins.  Buy some large paintbrushes for your big areas and use them as long as you can – this helps you get that initial paint on the canvas that you can then paint the details into, and it also helps you break each shape down into the largest, most simple form you can.  Take a look at the eyes I blocked in at the top – those are most definitely not detailed!  However, as I work on this tonight and tomorrow, you will see the progress quite easily and you will see where I add details later.

In this final picture you can see that I moved the neck in a bit too far – this was a problem I also had with the drawing!  Most of the other parts of this painting are correct more or less, because the width of the face was addressed in my drawing and I went out of my way to make sure it was correct on my canvas before putting it down – but apparently I got carried away around the neck.  Take the time to put in your shapes correctly – it’s worth it!

Part two coming soon!