Monday, January 26, 2009

Orange Sunshine

No Title Yet
16 x 20, oil on canvas
@Sue Favinger Smith

I haven't named this painting yet. It's been so cold and dark here in Oregon that I think I have been trying to paint sunshine. This is the second still life I set up on this gold damask cloth, because I love the challenge I find in capturing the weave. I wanted to push myself beyond using white - which is basically easy to paint, or stripes, or an abstracted version of cloth. I also wanted to see if I could realistically recreate the lovely blue cast shadow from the blue glass plate. There were a lot of subtleties where the light moving through the glass changed in color and how the shadow also changed. Plus it was an important element to indicate the table edge.

If you want to try painting a cloth with a definite pattern, such as a jacquard or a damask, this is what I discovered:

I use color temperatures and not values to define the weave. I started with a cool neutral tending toward blue and loosely scrubbed in the pattern. Look very closely at your own setup and you will notice that in the "light" side of the cloth, the raised pattern is one value and the lower pattern is another value, but on the "shadow" side of the cloth this seemed to be reversed. I had to really concentrate on what light side I was painting when approaching this. Then the warmer tone was applied to tell us the local color and have it read "damask cloth."

It also was very important to paint this wet-in-wet so that I could "push" some of the paint around. Then find a few light highlights on the weave and to direct the eye. The tangerines are a favorite of mine to paint right now, and the "pot" behind them usually holds my brushes.

I have also noticed that I usually end up with a "contemporary" approach to my division of space which I'm sure comes from years of painting abstractedly, but I'm happy enough with it so I guess it's just my "style." It's part of what I like right now about my version of the still life - I admit, I usually find traditional still life a little stodgy and boring. So I guess we'll see whether anyone else likes these paintings.

I submitted two similar still life paintings to the OPA's national show - somewhat foolishly optimistic on my part, I know, since this show will feature the top oil painters in the US, but my rational is that just submitting something I can feel good about is the goal and maybe someday something will come of it.


Michelle said...

Yummy! very nice warm colors to look at as the snow falls outside my window.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Sue, I know what you mean about the cold, lack of sunlight weather. It's great to paint sunshine on the palette. Lovely painting!