Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Commission, Part 7

Work has been coming along nicely on the painting, including the intricate designs on the bowl of cherries.

One interesting feature that you can see in this snapshot is the foundation for the 2 cherries in the lower right-hand area. I've brushed in a layer of pure Venetian Red, which will serve as a good strong base for further work on the cherries. The next step will be to model them to capture their actual shape and to apply surface details and highlights.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Commission, Part 6

The next step has been to paint the decanter. I'm not entirely satisfied with the depth of color on it; I think it will need to be corrected with a glaze when dry.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Commission, Part 5

I generally like to let a background dry before work on the body of the painting. Now that it has fully dried, I've begun the meat of the project.

I think of this stage as a first pass, though in reality I'm trying to get it as finished as possible. There are several steps (glazes and touch-ups) that can only be done once the first pass is dry to the touch.

The sesame seeds sprinkled on the top of the bread were especially fun to paint.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Commission, Part 4

The Background.

One of the traditional rules of oil painting is to work from the background to the foreground. While this doesn't always make sense, it usually does, and this painting is no exception.

The background in this case is a solid black. While I have several blacks available, for large unvaried passages like this, I like to use Ivory Black. It has a beauty, depth, and glow to it that the other black pigments seem to lack, and it gives some liveliness even to a background area.

Unfortunately, it's strength is also a weakness; it's a transparent paint. Even as I was laying in the background, I knew I'd have to apply a second layer. I usually mix a bit of walnut alkyd medium with my paint to improve the handling. It also speeds the drying, and thin layers are often dry to the touch the next day. For some reason, however, it still took days and days for this thin layer to dry. It finally has, though, and I can apply the second layer today.

Up to now, I've basically been laying the foundation for the painting. Starting with the next post, I'll be getting into the meat of the work.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Commission, Part 3

The Drawing.

At this point I lay in the composition as a light sketch on the panel (due to glare, it's not particularly easy to see in the above image).

This sketch is purely functional - it makes no effort to actually be an artistic drawing; I don't attempt to vary the line, define volume, or give depth. I'm simply placing the outlines of the objects and indicating a few salient details. Above all, I want to keep the sketch light so there's no chance it will ever show through subsequent layers of paint.

In some of the more complicate passages, like the design on the bowl above, I'll lay in some hatching, but that is simply so I don't get confused when I start applying paint.

Now that the sketch is complete, I apply a thin layer of retouch varnish (damar) to isolate the drawing so I won't get smudged or bleed into the paint.

With the next post I'll start putting paint down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Commission, Part 2

The Composition.

The collector who is commissioning this piece has some very specific requirements; particularly that red should be the predominant color in the painting.

We passed several sketches back and forth to work out a general design, this being one of them.


When the basic composition was settled, I got the items I needed from my props collection (and of course the grocery store for the perishables), and put together the setup I'd be working from.

Displaying ApplesCherriesWineBread-preliminary.jpg

When I sent over the image of the setup, the collector made what turned out to be an excellent compositional suggestion; move the bread back and the apples to the fore.

Displaying ApplesCherriesWineBread-preliminary.jpg

In its original position, the bread served too much of a blocking purpose, preventing the eye from moving through the space; almost like a wall.  I hadn't noticed this at first, but making the change made all the difference; now the eye can freely flow through the picture space, and there is a greater sense of depth.  Furthermore, the apples in front increases the red, which is an important component for this painting.

So, with this final design, the collector is happy and gave me to the go-ahead to begin work on it.

In the next post, I'll show the sketch.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Commission, part 1

The Panel

I received a commission to do a traditional still life, and I thought it would be great to document the progress of the painting here.

The size we agreed on is 24x24, so the first step was to prepare the panel. I usually construct my own panels, but since I wanted to be able to start this project quickly, I purchased a good panel instead. I'm using Baltic Birch, and it's cradled to ensure stability.

I did have to pick through about a dozen panels at the art store to find one that had zero defects, and this is the piece I was satisfied with.

After applying a sealer, I applied 4 coats of acrylic ground, and sanded it to a polished surface between each layer using 600 grit sandpaper. I prefer to work on a mid-toned gray surface, so this is a mixture of standard white and black acrylic ground.

The panel is now ready, and in the next post I'll discuss setting up the composition.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Captive Lemon No. 3"

Jeffrey Hayes: Captive Lemon No. 3
"Captive Lemon No. 3" • Oil on Panel • 6x3.5 inches (15x8 cm) • 2009
Private Collection
Details page

To see more paintings like this one, please click here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Two Truffles"

Jeffrey Hayes: Two Truffles
"Two Truffles" • Oil on Wood • 1.5x2.5 inches (3x6 cm) • 2012
Details page

To see more paintings like this one, please click here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Forum No. 13"

Jeffrey Hayes: Forum No. 13
"Forum No. 13" • Oil on Panel • 2x5 inches (5x12 cm) • 2012
Private Collection
Details page

To see more paintings like this one, please click here.