The subject must excite you

The weather has been so poor this week I was forced to find something to paint indoors. I've done a few floral still life set ups recently but I wasn't overly pleased with what I produced - they didn't feel like me somehow, like I was going through the motions but not really responding emotionally. I rummaged around my kitchen and picked up a platter I almost dismissed. It's nice enough, simple, but a bit on the boring side. But then I placed it close to the kitchen window and the glaze came to life!! I found a few pears in the fruit bowl and threw them onto it, and suddenly I had something in front of me that I was very keen to paint. Lesson learned: excitement for painting your subject always has to be there, or your work will be mediocre. 

Michael Harding's Cobalt Teal is one of my favourite colours, but I don't get to use it much when I am painting en plein air, so I thought I would use it to sketch out the shapes. The shadows almost had a turquoise tint to them in places, so I also used it to block in some shadows:

pears-1.jpg

I decided to paint the shadows from the pears first - I wanted to get them right tonally before working on the pears themselves. This set up is about the plate and the light first, pears second.

pears-2.jpg

I also quickly blocked in the plate shadow and background with very loose and quick brushwork. 

Now it was time for the pears. I'm working on my observation technique at the moment, taking time to really observe and place thoughtful brushmarks. I sometimes have a tendency to overwork (particularly with studio paintings) so I only painted what was really necessary. 

pears-3.jpg

I'm really pleased with it at this stage - I'm so aware that more work could mess it up! But the plate meeds a little more definition and the light on the plate needs to pack more of a punch. Here is the finished painting:

 'Pears on ceramic platter' | oil on panel | 8x12"

'Pears on ceramic platter' | oil on panel | 8x12"

I liked the platter so much I painted it again the following day, with apples this time. The two work really well as a pair actually!

 'Plated apple trio" | oil on panel | 8x12"

'Plated apple trio" | oil on panel | 8x12"