Tag Archives: painting tools

Thirty Seven Ears Painting Process #2

Paint Process: Thirty Seven Ears                                                         Rev.5-3-13

Ground: Masonite panel              

Lesson 2

The first lesson covered the rough sketch, finished drawing, and transferring the drawing to the panel. In this lesson we will begin the under painting.

All this painting was done with the panel flat on the work table. This allows better control of the washes and other methods I used throughout the painting. I generally use one brush for the entire painting. I prefer a Loew-Cornell 720 Ultra Round, #12. The washes for the rear wall, beams and ears of corn were done with this brush. To begin the painting I used Ouinacridone Red-orange for the background wall, a thin wash of Permanent Blue Light for the beams, and Burnt Sienna for the cast shadows. These are rather thin washes with some of the white ground showing through.

A wash of Prussian Blue was used on the six sections of wall. I did one section at a time by applying the wash and leaving some of the Ouinacridone Red-orange showing through. Right after the Prussian Blue wash was applied, and before it gets too dry, I use my fingertips to flick drops of soapy water onto the damp blue in a random pattern. I wait until the soapy water softens the damp blue, then I blot the section with paper towels to remove some of the blue. I then dry the surface with a hair drier to speed things up.

To under paint the corn, I used a thin wash of the contrasting color of the finished corn. Violet for the yellow corn. Hookers Green for the red corn, and permanent Blue Light for the orange corn. I indicate some of the cast shadows at this time by using a stronger wash of color. The final colors of the corn and the positions of the corn changed slightly as I made adjustments throughout the process. At this point, I started the color map for the painting as described in the first lesson.

37 Ears 4

Using the same brush, I added a second wash of Prussian Blue over the wall and flicked more soapy water on the surface, then blotted some off before it dried. I put a wash of Burnt Sienna over all of the posts and beams, and did the soapy water-blotting method on these. This was followed by applying some indication of wood grain with thin Prussian Blue. I added some floor joists behind the beams at the top of the painting. This gives some depth to the picture and served as the reason for the cast shadow at the top of the beam and on the wall.

37 Ears 22

I began adding wood grain on the lower half of the wall using thin lines of Yellow Ocher, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and a little white. I went over the grain of the wood several times, adding swirls and knots in a random pattern. I placed some gaps between the boards using Prussian Blue, Hookers Green Deep and Ouinacridone Red-orange (I never use black or Payne’s Gray). I didn’t paint wood grain on the top section of the wall.

I considered the back wall, floor joist and beams as “supporting actors” in the image I’m trying to create. I save the finer, detailed work for the “star” of the show, the corn. I consider all this work thus far as under painting. Using opposite colors, thin washes, wetting damp paint and blotting are some of the methods I use. The hair dryer speeds up the drying process and using rags, paper towels, and crumpled aluminum foil can create an interesting effect in any painting.

I added the white wash and some details to the beams, experimenting with the lower part of the post first. I used White, Burnt Umber and a touch of Hookers Green Deep to make a soft, dull grey. I used the side of the brush to apply this mixture. I loaded the brush with moderately dry paint, held the brush almost parallel with the surface, and dragged the paint over the surface of the posts. The tiny peaks formed by the rolled geso pick off the paint from the brush.  I also rotate the brush slightly to expose more paint to the surface. As soon as I apply the paint to one area, I splatter it with soapy water and daub the damp paint with a paper towel. The left, horizontal rail has one thin coat of White with some broken color. The top left and center post has two applications of paint and daubing and the bottom of the post has some cracks, wood grain and worm holes added.

37 Ears 33

I started experimenting by painting the kernels on a couple of ears. In the next lesson I explain how I used a Grumbacher #2 Round Liner brush to apply between five and ten coats of thin paint to each kernel of corn.


  • Working with the panel flat helps control paint flow with the washes.
  • Under paint major areas with contrasting washes of color.
  • Start the color map at this point.
  • Indicate cast shadows with stronger washes.
  • Flick soapy water on each section before it dries completely.
  • Blot these drops of water with crumpled paper towels.
  • Continue adding thin washes, wetting and blotting as needed.
  • Build up details with washes, dry brushing and wet-blot as needed.
  • Spend less time on secondary areas (the “supporting actors”) and more time on the ears of corn (the “stars”) of the image.

Next lesson: Laying out the rows of kernels, building the illusion of domed kernels, highlights and cast shadows.

Thirty Seven Ears Painting Lesson 1 of 3

Paint Process: Thirty Seven Ears                     Ground: Masonite panel               

Lesson 1 of three

I enjoy painting multi-colored ears of Indian corn. The variety of colors they come in is amazing. I thought for some time how I might use these in a large format painting.  I had a photo of white washed beams in an old barn at a local winery, and had worked out a way to incorporate these and the corn into a painting. The 6 X 8 inch pencil and water color sketch below was used as a starting point.

37 Ears 1 sketch

I followed this up with a full-size drawing laying out four groups of corn and husks tied to the post. I had an 18 X 32 inch gold frame on hand.  I cut a sheet of 1/8th inch Masonite to an 18 X 32 inch panel. Using a three inch short-nap roller, I applied three coats of gesso to the face of the panel, letting each coat dry overnight. I sandpapered each coat lightly before applying the next coat. This produced a texture with thousands of tiny peaks and depressions that I prefer to paint on. I applied two coats of gesso to the back of the panel to reduce warping.

37 Ears 2 full size drawing

I placed tracing paper over the drawing and traced the major components. I make my own carbon paper by covering a small piece of tracing paper (about 6 X 8 inches) completely using a #2 pencil. Don’t use regular carbon paper. This will bleed through the acrylic washes of paint. Tape the tracing paper on the blank white panel. Slip the “carbon paper” under this. Draw the major components with a stylus such as a worn out ball point pen to transfer the sketch to the panel. Apply only enough pressure to transfer a light line to the panel.  Check your progress often.

Make a color map.

I like to keep a record of the colors I use during the development of a painting. As I apply each new color, I place a small daub of paint onto a piece of gessoed matt board. I then drag some of this wet paint out into a thin wash. This serves several purposes:

  • It is a reminder of how I developed the colors to get to the finish work.
  • I use it as a teaching aid in my art classes.
  • I occasionally post these painting processes on this web site for others to enjoy.
  • I use these for painting demonstrations and art shows.
  • I also provide the person purchasing my art all of the sketches, color maps and progress photographs when they pick up the finished painting.

37 Ears 555color record


  • Use a three-inch short-nap roller to apply three coats of gesso to the face of the Masonite panel and let each coat dry overnight.
  • Sandpapered each coat lightly before applying the next coat.
  • Applied two coats of gesso to the back of the panel to reduce warping.
  • Make your own carbon paper by covering a small piece of tracing paper (about 6 X 8 inches) completely using a #2 pencil.
  • Placed “carbon paper” under the tracing paper drawing.
  • Draw the major components with a stylus such as a worn out ball point pen, applying only enough pressure to transfer a light line to the panel.
  • Checked your progress often.
  • Kept a record of the colors you uses during the development of the painting. A small daub of paint pulled into a wash works well.
  • Note the name of each color.

In the second lesson, I’ll show how I start the under painting with a series of complementary colors and build up the painted surface and textures using several methods to apply the paint. Look for this the week of April 28th.