Friday, April 1, 2011

An Elephant in the Room

"An Elephant in the Room." 8 x 10 in. OIl on Panel
Hey everyone!!! For my up coming show I have been trying to paint more still life's. I have an Elephant collection that I started when I was young and this one made the cut for this painting. Because this was a small painting and not too complex I decided to draw straight on the panel. I started out with charcoal on a wood panel I prepared myself. Lately I have been working on wood panels or linen mounted on panel. When I prepare the panels myself I have a lot more control over the absorbency and texture of the surface.
My Sight-Size Set Up.
Recently I realized that I wasn't posting enough of the drawing stage of my work so for this painting I wanted to show a couple stages of that. I often draw with straight lines blocking in everything in a general way. I focus on the major heights, widths and angels to later break them down into the more complex shapes. Every drawing I do I think more about building a solid foundation to work off of instead of dressing it up with the little details.


Block-In Articulated
After I've articulated my block-in I now have enough information to start the painting. First I wanted to dry brush raw umber over the panel for two reasons. One reason was to elaborate the drawing and the other was to establish the tones.

Raw Umber Drawing
Raw Umber Drawing with Background 
After I've finished the raw umber drawing and background I left the painting to dry because it was bed time. I've learned long ago that when I'm tired I tend to make bad painting decisions and also caught myself rushing.

First Painting Stage

The first Painting Stage for me is sort like sketching in the approximate color of the still life. I try my best to match the colors I see in life knowing I'll be adjusting them later on in the painting. Like the drawing stage I aim for the big notes of color focusing on the masses of light and shadow. The details and nuances of color can be added at a later stage of the painting.
First Painting Completed
Here is the finished First Painted Stage. This base will serve as a color guild for me to finish my still life. Of course there will be many things to change and revisited such as color, tones and edges. First painting allows me to paint freer and more confidently in the last stage. I can think more about certain light effects or taking liberties with the colors.

The Finished Painting
The finished painting is basically a polished version of the first painting stage. I got to play around with the shine of the metals and the stains on the wood of the elephant. I wanted the head of the elephant to be more in focus then the rest of the body. So all of my sharpest edges, highlights and tonal jumps are all in the head region. I did push the colors a bit more intense then the where in life. Although I really did see these blues, violets and red and I was inspired by them. The last thing I'd like to point out is that in the medallions I built up some impastos to catch the light. I like impastos, they are kind of a cheap party trick but they definitely make a convincing illusion of shine and highlight.


  1. This is such a great site! I like the way you set this up! Great content! Thanks for sharing this!...Daniel

  2. Really enjoyed the block-in and seeing you break down the complex shapes. And what a sweet little still life, the gold tones are very convincing.
    Wonderful demo.

  3. Thank you guys!!! I'm glad you liked the post.

  4. Well done for such a great blog. You show great generosity in the way you demonstrate your painting stages. Give and it will be given back to you! that's what I believe.

    Last but not least, very impressive work!

    Look forward to seeing more.

  5. Thanks James.I appreciate the comment and your gratitude. I'll be posting a Forest interior soon. Keep checking back.