Monday, January 31, 2011

Tea for One Oil Painting Demo

Thanks everyone for visiting. This time around in painting I wanted to tackle some different textures. I wanted to paint this unique tea pot that I acquired while in high school. I always loved the patina like glaze and the handmade feel of its form. Throughout most of all of my still life's there has been signs of age, cracks and decay. I've never really been drawn to ultra smooth or perfect scenes. I feel there is so much more character in distressed items. In my opinion the story will pretty much tell itself when you come across and portray those one of a kind objects.

Here is my basic set-up for the still life. I almost always work with the set-up directly beside my working surface to get a one to one comparison. When working on still life I find if most useful to work in this manor.

In starting this painting I quickly sketched out all the major forms on paper with pencil. In this stage of the process is where I decide the size and placements of the final composition. For this piece I chose to go with 12 X 10 inches.

The next stage was to transfer the drawing to the linen. I used a fine weave oil primed linen on panel that I bought from New Tradition. I believe it was L600.

Notice the dark band across the top of the linen is caused by my easel casting a shadow. I would normally adjust that right away but in this case because it didn't block the main subject I decided to be lazy and let it be.

In the Raw Umber wash stage I try to find the tonal relationships between the objects. I work in a general way compressing values making simple flat tones. I'm not interested in details or turning forms at this point. All of the little nuances will come with time in the later stages of the painting. In the back of my mind I'm starting to construct a base and narrow down my decision making for the later layers of paint.

For the first time of applying color I look for an approximate middle tone for the areas receiving light leaving the shadows in the Raw Umber stage. I can later decide to lighten or darken the middle tone to conceptually turn the form of the objects.

Now that I have covered the entire linen with a tone and their approximate hues I can start using it as a map to guide me in finishing the painting piece by piece. One could definitely skip this stage by making color or poster studies ahead of time. I often make color studies for more complex paintings.

Carefully I repaint everything I've worked on up until this point. My choices are made deliberately and wisely trying to bring each part to its finish. I have slowed down quite a bit compared to the rapid pace in which I started the painting.

I finally arrived at the finished product after much fiddling around. One thing I tried to do in the final paint layer was to bring some color unity into the piece as a whole. Therefore I made sure to introduce broken applications of blue into the tea pot, cup, stone and wood table top. I basically matched the value of the blue to the object I painted into to have a more subtle amalgamation.

Thank you again for visiting.


  1. Great painting Brian. I'm mesmerized by your seducive and elegant choice of colors in this composition!

  2. Wow!!! Thanks Pierre that means a lot coming from you.