I have started my first painting for 2012. I used a 16 X 20 Fredric canvas and prepared it in my usual way by rolling on two coats of gesso. I wanted to paint a pomegranate so I purchased one as well as a lemon and a lime. I set up a three-sided stage on my work table using scrap mat board taped together to photograph the fruit. I cut up the fruits and arranged them on this mini stage and lit the arrangement with a single source of light from a small quartz halogen desk lamp. I shut off all the other lights in the room. I took a bunch of photos, rearranged the fruit in different ways and moved the camera angle around. With a digital camera, you can take dozens of photos and only print the best ones for reference photos.
I did a small sketch to check out the composition, and then did a light pencil sketch on the canvas. I started painting the background with a splotchy wash of Ultramarine Blue. I applied a thin wash on the fruit with the opposite color. I used Hookers Green for the pomegranate, Cadmium Red for the limes, and a violet wash for the lemons. A quick wash of Yellow Oxide and Raw Sienna was added to the table top.
I find it helps a great deal to soak the back of the canvas with a spray bottle of water with a little liquid dishwashing detergent. This tightens up the canvas and slows down the drying time slightly so I can work wet-in-wet. I used a series of washes, scumbles, and wet-in-wet painting to bring up the shapes of the pomegranates, lemons and limes. I darkened the background with more splotchy paint at this point.
I used the printed photographs and my laptop computer to view the pictures. This is something new I’m trying, and it gives me better back lighting, a brighter image and truer color than the printed photos. This also allows me to see how the fruit is structured, since I can zoom in to get the fine details. I also save many of the better photos, and can view them from different angles.
I continue to work around the painting, bringing each piece of fruit along with additional detail, color and form. If things aren’t going well, this is the best time to make adjustments on the work. I set the painting aside and study it from different angles for a day or two. I saw that several minor adjustments were needed, so I placed small bits of blue painter’s tape near the needed corrections. The next painting session, I make the necessary corrections before continuing with the work.