The goal for this painting was to use a traditional method in order to further develop my skills in fine detail accuracy, with still-life as a subject matter, in an attempt to trick the eye (Trompe L’oeil). The approach was to remain true to the subject in color, drawing and arrangement in precise detail.
Still life paintings have always been a subject matter that I lack appreciation for. I think my painting one class ruined me! 😉 So with this in mind I knew in oder to enjoy the work, I had to find a way to love it. In doing so I decided to give it a my own modern twist since I have a love for contemporary art. I wanted to stay away from being able to place the subject into a particular setting so I chose to simplify to background to a simple white, with no table line to suggest to the viewer any sense of space.
In oder to love and be able to apply myself to the subject matter I chose to use my favorite objects in the world. My Polish Teacups. I don’t collect trinkets or knick-knacks from places I travel to. I’ve never purchased a post-card, a magnet for the fridge, or a hooded sweater with “Berlin” printed on the front. Though what did purchase were these lovely, slightly whimsical, blue and white teacups and saucers! I never intended on getting any pottery but when I saw these teacups I fell in love. These have been the most functional souvenir, well the only souvenir, that I’ve bought for myself. They’re just so charming, so it was the natural choice to paint them and also one that would challenge my abilities as a painter.
So here they are in all their glory in the still life setup. I used an overhead spotlight to get relatively even front lighting.
I painted an ochre yellow undercoat on an 18×24 sized white canvas to be able to work up from a medium value instead of painting white on white.
I began by laying down the white background with a silvery-white mixed from titanium white, yellow ochre, french ultramarine blue and a hint of black ivory. I applied it with a pallet knife (one of my favorite ‘brushes’ allowing the yellow undercoat to peek through.
I then placed the drawing of the cups in a darker tone of silvery-blue and filled in the values found in the round cups.
I then intensified the values in the cups and plates and added the handles. I wanted to make it appear realistic from a distance and yet have some painterly influences in my brush work, making it a little more freeform and loose when looking at them up-close.
I then inlaid the originally hand-painted detail on the cups, funny enough, painting them… by hand! Well what-do-you-know, I could paint pottery for a living if I wanted to! 🙂 I began with the cup that seemed to most tedious using straight from the tube french ultramarine blue and applied the same color to the rims. Once the blue was on I applied a yellow ochre/white mix to refine the pattern.
Next came the polka-dots. Oh, the polka-dots! A pattern that seemed to easy before I attempted to put them in. These were tricky as all elliptical shapes are. Even though they appear to all be the same size and spacing apart on the cup, in reality they aren’t. This is one of the key mistakes made in drawing. The round shapes change in roundness depending on the angle you look at them, so if you paint them all the same ’roundness’ they will look and are wrong. Let’s just say I re-worked these several times before I settled on them, I’m still unsettled about them but I’ve moved on. I just had too.
I applied the blue first and with the wet-on-wet technique I fused the blue into the white/yellow/grey values. Doing this makes them become part of the cup and not appear as if they are floating in front of the cup.
Following the dots came the light blue flower detail with the dark-green trim. These were fun! Applied in the same technique as the other patterns; wet on wet, color first and then a refinement with white/yellow/grey.
I then added the detail to the top and final cup. All the while making little shifts of value in the lower cups.
The I returned to the background, adding a more clean white value to it, still using a type of ‘impasto’ technique giving it a subtle texture. (If I’m going to paint a still life I want to be able to see and feel the thick paint on it! Ya know what I mean?) 🙂 I also planted in the detail on the top plate and made some adjustments to the values and shapes of the plates. You’ll notice how the plates change quite often if you scroll through and pay attention to them. You’ll also notice the addition of straight white highlights on the cups and plates. I change these several time too.
In the final 10% of the painting I refined the edges of the cups adding or subtracting some of the roundness. I reworked the values on the handles and the plates and the shadow at the bottom. I re-did the highlights and warmed up the background a bit and entered it into the Student Art Show for UVU at the Woodbury Art Museum. This piece (along with another drawing I did) got into the show! This was my first attempt at entering my work into a show and I was completely shocked that I got in.
If you want to see this painting in real life. 1st off because it looks better in real life and 2nd because that’s just cool that it’s hanging on the wall of an art gallery right now at this very moment!!
You’ll find it at the Woodbury Art Museum located at the University Mall in Orem, Utah. The exhibit is running from March 26th to April 27th! So go see it! And then come back and tell me what you thought!
It’s nothing too spectacular but it is special to me considering that this is the first thing I’ve ever entered. It’s been motivating because I’ve already got some great things planned for next year. My goal is to win an award of some sort which would be awesome because I’m only technically a sophomore in my academic career.