I started this painting by doing a quick drawing of the outlines of
the lemons and box. I drew the box with a 2h pencil. I used a ruler
to measure 3 inches in in from the edges so I would be sure to have
the same size box all around the painting. I then used the ruler to
draw straight lines and find the vanishing point of the places the
box joins at the edges.
After drawing the box I found the placement of the lemons by looking
at my setup and comparing the size and shapes of the lemons. I
checked the horizontal lines to compare the top or bottom of
different lemons with other lemons, tying all the relationships of
the lemons together.
As I say in the classes
I teach "It's like a puzzle. The more parts
we get in the right place, the easier it is to put the other parts
in their right places."
I used a stick of charcoal to draw in the big shapes of the lemons.
I deliberately left the drawing of the lemons a little loose and
unfinished so that I could make changes as I started to paint. I
like to work on a drawing that is not too tight so I can feel
excitement as I start to paint and not feel like I'm just filling in
Start of the first coat:
Here I'm using a limited palette of earth colors. By using a limited
palette I can focus on getting the big flow of light and value and
not worry too much about color.
I use mineral spirits to thin the paint a little in the first coat.
I started by blocking in the lemons. At this stage it can be hard to
judge the value of the paint compared to the white of the linen. As
I go over the all of the linen with paint, it becomes easier to see
the values. Reminds me of those optical illusions where the value of
a square is only relevant as compared to the value of the squares
around them. http://web.mit.edu/persci/people/adelson/checkershadow_illusion.html
Here is how the painting looks when I 'm finished with the first
coat of paint. I try to keep this coat loose and exciting so that I
feel like coming back and painting more! If you squint your eyes
down the value relationships are starting to work.
Start of second coat:
Here I start using a full palette of colors. I go over the whole
painting bringing the color closer to what I'm seeing. I
deliberately do not try to finish or model anything in the second
coat. I find if I do finish things too much in the second coat it
makes it harder to want to come back and paint over the finished
parts. I like the look of having a least 3 coats of paint. So the
second coat is just to bring the color closer to the real thing I'm
painting and build the paint up. I paint very thinly so it helps to
have at least 3 layers of paint. I use linseed oil as my medium for
the second coat. I started working from the left to right and from
dark to light. Slowly going over the linen.
Start of the third coat:
I used a full palette of colors again.
This time I used a medium of linseed oil and stand oil mixed on my
pallet. It's an oil rich medium but the Artfix linen I use is very
thirsty so it works well. The stand oil adds a buttery quality to
the paint and helps level the brush strokes. I start by working
from dark to light so I start on the lemon in the back left. I paint
over it trying to finish it as I go. Then, I move down to the left
bottom lemon and, starting from the shadow side blocking in the big
light and dark. Much like in the second coat but this time I start
to model and finish the lemon by painting all the little changes as
the light flows across it's form. I do this by painting both the
shadow and light side of the lemon with their local color and then
working in to the wet paint to adjust and model things.
Working my way along the lemons.
Finished painting "Lemons in Box"
Oil on Linen 11"x 16"