Still Life Colour Studies. Exercise: Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood

09-10/07/15

Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood

Aims:

  • Attempt to give a smoky, “club room” feel, dusty, oppressive, dark yet comforting and enveloping.
  • Dark, rich colours – exaggerated darks
  • Ground Colour; Rich, nicotine/whiskey/claret – evoke cigars, pipes and musty books – clandestine.
Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life Arrangement

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life Arrangement

 

We were to use the same arrangement for both exercises. On the right is the group of objects set up.  As you can see it was a fairly bright day with multiple light sources from the open doors to the left and window to the right.  Using the same tonal sketch as for the previous exercise helped me focus in on the objects to remove superfluous surroundings and try to create the atmosphere described above.

 

 

 

 

Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood Acrylic on cartridge paper 29x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood
Acrylic on cartridge paper
29x41cm

Assessment of how well my aims have been achieved:

  • Used  dark plummy brown as the ground colour so that I had to “draw out” the objects from the dark.
  • Started by using fairly realistic colours and gradually introduced more earthy, rich colours for different tones.
  • Painted in the cloth in muted greys and washed over with tones of burnt sienna to give a nicotine stained effect.

I lost my way a little with pre-mixed colours so just went with the flow and used the atmosphere I wanted to create dictate the colours.

  • Made a nice dusty grey with burnt sienna, ultramarine and Naples yellow which was useful to give a dust-like bloom on objects.
  • Mid-painting I switched from using a white to lighten colour to Naples yellow which made the colours more muted.

At the end of day one, I was very disappointed and had decided to start again the next day. However, coming back to it and introducing the dusty greys and Naples yellow made me more satisfied with the end result.

Set out your completed colour still life studies side by side and make notes in your learning log about the different effects you’ve been able to create using the same group of objects.

Still Life Colour Studies - Colour Accuracy Acrylic on Cartridge Paper 28x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Colour Accuracy
Acrylic on Cartridge Paper
28x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood Acrylic on cartridge paper 29x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood
Acrylic on cartridge paper
29x41cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effects created in:

1. Colour Accuracy study

  • Sparkle in the glass
  • Cleaner, sharper colours as were pre-mixed
  • Light – more like daylight even though over head spots were on too
  • Transparency of the glass
  • Crispness of the cloth
  • Bottle and glass are clearly empty

2. Colour for Mood study

  • Dimly lit
  • Enclosed, curtained and private
  • Aged
  • Increased opacity of the glass
  • Dusty
  • A sense of waiting
  • Bottle and glass appear to more related to each other as colours are more reflective of each other

Overall, looking at the points I’ve made for each study, 1) has more factual and specific effects and 2) has more inference, suggestibility and interpretation.  Whatever, the merit of the paintings themselves, I feel that these exercises were successful in achieving their objectives: Observation contrasting with mood.

 

Exercise: Still Life with Man Made Objects

18/06/15

Still Life with Man Made Objects

Select some man-made objects… Find objects that are linked by common use… spend time working out the format and composition… Make a careful evaluation of tonal variation… Think in advance about how you would exploit visual drama…

Still Life with Man Made Objects Preparatory sketches exploring composition and tonal variations. 10x10cm in A4 sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Preparatory sketches exploring composition and tonal variations.
10x10cm in A4 sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice
A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice 2 A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice 2
A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Acrylic painting WIP - main shapes blocked in, following my tonal sketch as a map 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Acrylic painting WIP 1 – main shapes blocked in, following my tonal sketch as a map
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

19 & 20/06/15

Still Life with Man Made Objects Acrylic painting WIP 2 - solidifying shapes and reaffirming tones, following my tonal sketch as a map 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Acrylic painting WIP 2 – solidifying shapes and reaffirming tones, following my tonal sketch as a map
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects Completed painting - Colours brightened and patterns added, final highlights and tonal adjustments 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Completed painting – Colours brightened and patterns added, final highlights and tonal adjustments
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

When you’ve completed your still life, look at it carefully and make notes in your learning log. Comment on the following:

  • your planning and working methods – after making two previous still life paintings in quick succession, I was more confident about the composition, scale and format I wanted to use. The preliminary sketch confirmed my thoughts but was still very useful, had the sketch not worked, I would have had the opportunity to rethink.  The most valuable sketch because of this, was the tonal “map” of the arrangement.
  • your choice of format and scale – as above. The objects were not large, however, the image benefited from enlarging them, giving them more importance and as they were predominantly spherical in shape, a square format focused in on them well.
  • the composition – following on from the previous comment, I also wanted to put the objects into an interior’s context but liked the way I could actually see the outside through the open door.  This cast some interesting shadows and gave more tonal interest to whole image, along with some contrasting angles and straight lines against the curves and ellipses of the objects. This was something I liked when researching 19th and 20th Century still life painters and paintings ie Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard.
  • colour interest – I think that this is the first time ever, I have consciously looked at the colours, mixes and their tonal variations.  I have never before worked out these mixes and tonal gradations beforehand – it’s always been a case of pick and mix on the fly.  Whereas that “method” worked at times, at others, I could see a lack of uniformity across the painting and no thought to warm or cool colours or using local colour as shadow. This painting, I feel, gels well in colour because they were premixed.
  • your use of tonal contrast – as this painting was done over two days with varying weather conditions from bright sunlight to dull and overcast, plus light sources from the open door and the window to right, not to mention overhead lighting when it was particularly dark, my preliminary tonal sketch was invaluable.  It truly served as a map of tones across the painting – I was able to follow this directly from the sketch and did not use the fluctuating light sources over the course of the time.  The objects themselves gave me the shapes, angles, proportions and colour but the sketch gave me the tones. As the teapot and teacup are predominantly white, I decided to use a neutral ground colour. I used ultramarine, burnt sienna and white giving a warm neutral.  This worked brilliantly and helped me gauge the tones within the white crockery and door frames.
  • your use of paint handling – from the previous two still life paintings, where I used much more dilute paint and inks, I found I was less heavy-handed here.  I have learnt (as mentioned in my sketchbook) from portrait class that darker tones appear to work much better when thinner in consistency and lights benefit from being thicker. I have tried to sculpt with the paint using flat, reasonably large brushes.  From using the tonal sketch, I also think I applied paint with more confidence than usual and this stopped me overworking it.

Finally, look carefully at all three still life paintings that you’ve completed for this project… decide which is the most successful.

I think as a painting, taking into consideration all the above comments, the final Still Life with Man Made Objects is the most successful painting, however, as an image, I still like the Drawing in Paint still life because of its colours and more loose approach, its flaws have an appeal to me.

What elements have particularly contributed to the success of this painting?

The tonal work, because of the preliminary sketch, is consistent and the use of colour on a predominantly white object to show tone, works well I think.  Also, the fact that the entire painting is made with just three colours, plus white, gives it a cohesive appearance across the whole picture.

Which areas need further development and practice?

All of the elements I have explored, actually using the tonal sketch, thinking about colour with tone beforehand, are new to me and require more practice.  What I would really like to do is to combine the freshness of the “Drawing in Paint” still life, with the techniques of the “Still Life with Man Made Objects”.

If you did a still life painting for Assignment One, revisit this now and make notes on what you could do differently to improve it.

Still life - Assignment 1 Oil on canvas board A3 Session 3

Still life – Assignment 1
Oil on canvas board A3
Session 3

Where do I start??? My main positive is the drawing, and I think that’s it.  From what I have learnt so far over the course of Part 2 I would consider:

  • Being more selective regarding the objects in the arrangement – they have no relationship.
  • Although tonal drawings were done, they do not appear to have been utilised to their full effect. Even though a light box was used, the lighting does not seem fully consistent.
  • The paint handling was a little heavy-handed yet appears tentative in places. The darks, particularly in the bottle and back ground have no subtly and the glass is dull and opaque rather than rich and transparent.
  • This is an example of my pick and mix approach to colour where it has not worked.  By putting more thought into the colours, their tones and transparency versus opacity, I think I would have achieved more freshness.  Rather than thinking on my feet and making the wrong decisions, the hard work would have been done regarding the colour and tone and this would have given me more confidence in placing the paint and making the painting less overworked, dull and heavy.

I have to say that the photograph is also improving the painting by seemingly lifting the colour – in real life, my comments most definitely apply.