Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Seashells and Eggshells

Hi everyone! Here's a painting I started the other day and have decided to share its progress. In this first shot, I have my drawing laid out in charcoal and started with the background. I'm keeping this background dark, with a mix of black to grey nearer the subject in order to illuminate the objects. 

In this second photo, I have completed the first pass. This is only one layer of paint, the underpainting. There is no detail work at this point and this stage is merely blocking the painting. From this point on, more layers of paint will be added as well as detailing, deeper shadows, and lighting. Before continuing, I had to let the paint set a bit before I could add more layers. Trying to paint wet on wet would make a mess and I would just end up with too much paint and not accomplish much. One key point for anyone to learn if they want to paint realism is to not use too much paint on the brush and to work in thin layers. Too much paint creates a build up that can't effectively be worked or controlled. It's better to have too little paint and keep adding rather than trying to take off paint. 

This photo is a close up detail shot of a completed eggshell. In order to have effective mood and lighting, it's important to assess your values.  An egg is perfect for studying values as you can see the gradation from your darkest dark, mid tones, and lightest point. There are also reflections from light reflecting on surrounding objects to consider. If you look at this egg, you can see reflective light in the back of the egg where it is darkest. There is no light source behind the egg, but there is a seashell that is reflecting light. This is something an artist must train the eye to see. 

Almost everything in life is not straightforward colour, light, and shadows. I have painted green bellies on horses from light being reflected from the grass below. People would say they were seeing a brown horse without realizing there was a whole lot of green.I often tell this story to people when they question me on how I paint such realistic light. It's important to paint what you truly see and not what your brain thinks it sees. An artist must train the eye to see what is really there. 

Next, I'll be working on the seashells. These will take longer since there is more detail work, but I will be back with more photos to show its progress. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into how I work. 


hmuxo said...

A very informative post which I really appreciate, Carole. The progression of this painting is wonderful, and look forward to your next one. I love how your painting pops with the dark background.

Christine said...


Carole Rodrigue said...

Thank you ladies! I'm hoping the seashells turn out as well as the eggshells. :-)