Friday, March 25, 2011

Distracted Gourds

"Distracted Gourds." 12"x20"in, Oil on Linen.
Hello everyone here is the newest addition to my up coming solo show at the Royal Gallery this April. Funny enough I bought these Gourds back in November 2010 during Thanksgiving. I knew at the time I wouldn't be able to paint them right away but I also didn't want to miss the season and not paint them till next year. When these guys came home with me the where mostly green with spots of orange. Their original color patterns where the thing that attracted me to them. Well, I forgot about these poor guys in a pile of still life objects waiting for their time to shine. When I eventually found them again they had aged into their perfect state. Mold had started to overtake a couple and I figure I didn't have much more time to wait. I had to start and finish this painting before they where to rot and cave in on themselves.

The Cartoon Pencil on Paper
There was a lot of interesting angels and shapes in these Gourds so I wanted to nail them down the best I could. I have always been able to draw much faster and more accurately with a pencil. Starting my painting on paper first allows me to figure out the proper size and placement of the still life on my surface. I have always found it a pain to cut, resize and then re-stretch a finished painting onto new stretchers. The Cartoon stage has been the easiest way for me to by-pass this annoying bump in the process.  

Still Life set-up and First-Painting Stage.
In this photo above I have already made an oil transfer and went straight into the first painting stage of this still life. Typically I like to use a raw umber tonal wash to establish more of the drawing and tones before I get into the color. With this painting I felt confident with what the tones and colors where going to be. An added advantage to finding the correct tones and color was the linen was toned to the same color and value as my palette.

First Painting the Gourds
Here Is my first guess at the colors in the gourds. My first attempt is always to find a middle of the road color I can paint into with littler and darker values. I tend to break up the drawing between the shadows and the lights. In the lights I like to limit my range of value by just focusing on the lightest light, middle tone and half-tone. Fine detail or unique broken color I leave to the last layers of paint.
Completed First-Painting Stage
I have now completed the base in which I will paint over in later stages. Now I have enough information in front of me to work off of and take everything to a finish piece by piece. Notice that I haven't touched the background and left it the tone of the linen. Because it was so close to the tone of the actual background there was no need to waste anymore time over one value shift.

The Starting of Second-Painting 

Close up
In Second painting I start painting the larger forms and gradually work towards smaller and smaller forms until I am working on the tiny little details. 

The Finished Painting
You may notice that in this final stage I have added the mold. I waited for the painting to dry and then  
scumbled a light blue/gray color over the parts where I wanted the mold. If I where to have painted it wet into wet I would have risked mixing the two colors too much. There is a certain quality of scumbling that  better suits the painting of the mold. Often it appears dryer and dragged so that bits of the orange can show through. The background was finished by weaving broken colors of warm, cold and neutral grays.
Finally in working on the wood I focused of the most interesting parts that made up its character. I was faced with the question of painting every single grain, notch and crack or generalizing to not pull attention away from the gourds.  The best bet seemed to focus on the major stains and cracks and let the distractions remain in life.


  1. hi brian, i am studying with juliette aristides in seattle-- it looks like you were at the angel academy? nice gourds.

  2. Oh!! nice Zoey. I really liked your work, I need to visit that school some day.