I didn't realize it at the time, but we have a Christmas ornament that looks almost just like this still life arrangement. My wife is a teacher, and somewhere along the line someone gave it to her. Every year when we decorate the tree, I always seem to notice this one more than any other ornaments. I'm not sure what me think of it today when I was setting this up. I know it wasn't intentional and I didn't even realize it until I added the apple to the still life. Then it hit me, it's the ornament! I was just trying to make an interesting arrangement with these books, and it's funny how the subconscious works sometimes. In an attempt to show you as accurately as possible my painting process, I'm including two images from about the first hour of painting. You'll notice that they are different then the final painting. After I got the apple mostly finished up and started blocking in the books, I realized I had the scale of the whole scene way, way off for the view I was trying to capture. It was then that I came to the realization that I had two choices. I could either go with what I had (and not paint what I intended) or start over. I choose to start over.
Here's how today's painting came to life:
Here's a picture of what I'm looking at while painting today. This is about the composition I'm looking to reproduce. The angle of this photo is a little higher than where I'm painting from, but it's close enough.
This is my original rough block in. If I was really paying attention when I did this, I would have realized that the drawing is off. If you look at what I roughed in for the top green book its way too short on the right side and way too long on the left. Most of everything below this book is based on the size of it, so everything is wrong. I also made the apple too large, but I thought I'd fix this while working on the painting. Big mistake! If I had corrected it here I might have noticed how off the rest of the painting was before I started it. A lesson for next time!
This is how far I got before I started over. I really struggled with the apple while painting this, perhaps because it's the wrong size. I'm not really sure, but I wiped off what I had twice and re-painted the apple. I finally got it to a point where I thought I might be able to work it out and wanted to get some of the other parts of the painting blocked in. That's when I realized I had completely messed up the initial block in. When I corrected the drawing, I wasn't at all happy with my composition any longer. The books where going to create stripes of colors that ran from side to side. Faced with this boring composition, I spent some time studying the painting to see where things went wrong. Once I had a pretty good idea of where I went wrong, I put a new canvas on my easel and started over.
Okay, now I'm at about the same point as I was in the earlier photo. Things are going much better for me so far. I got to this point faster than my earlier attempt. I'm much happier with my composition, and I think my color choices are better. Now, let's see if I can though the rest of the painting without any major issues...
Here I'm continuing my block in. I'm being careful to not get into too much detail at this stage. I just really want to make sure I get everything placed correctly. Then, I'll go back over everything to add in details and adjust the values and edges of my drawing.
This image was taken at what I consider the end of my block-in stage. Everything is defined at this point. The drawing is just about there, and the color for each object is well established, although it still needs some work. From this point to the final painting, I go over ever inch of the painting adjusting the colors, edges and adding in the details I want to include. I don't bother painting all the titles exactly as they appear in real life. It's not what I'm interested in. I'd rather paint the impression of the lettering and create an interesting design than reproduce it exactly as it appeared.
The finished painting.
Signed on front. Signed and dated on back.50 paintings in 50 days challenge | apples | book | Daily Painting | oil painting | Step by Step | Still Life