Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Old Master" Orange


I've been loving studying "old master" techniques using still life subjects. I'm using a limited palette, in this case to create a Caravaggio-like "tenebrism" - i.e., dark, almost featureless backgrounds with highly contrasting, strongly directional lighting of the main subject. Applying several glazes of translucent paint layers lets me build up a glossy surface into which light passes and bounces back out, creating a luminosity that seems to come from within the painting. This luminosity is one of the advantages of using oils, so I figure might as well take the time to do it and let the medium be its best self once in a while.

I've done apples, pears, grapes, and lemons using these techniques. This particular still life is 4x6. It's a commission, along with a matching pear that I'll be starting on next. I love doing these! When they work, it's like a spiritual experience of a little piece of nature fixed inside a frame. I will probably be doing these for the rest of my life.

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