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20 minute Lemon - 7x11

I started a challenge in an art forum - we are to paint something for 20 minutes and post it.  The goal is to get motivated, loosen up, trust instincts and just paint

Because I need a jumpstart, I decided to commit to it - Today is the first day.  There are hundreds of people doing it and can I tell you, either I suck royally or people are cheating - Some of the posted 20 minute paintings look like they had to have taken hours (details etc..).   I am going to finish this lemon today but here is the set up - this is all I can do in 20 minutes.   Hopefully, I'll post the finished product this afternoon.

Here is my unprofessional set up:


  • I like it, especially the way you've suggested the reflection in the wood with the yellow paint. :)
  • You did great! Your lemon has form and depth. For 20 minutes this is outstanding!  The colors and loose brush is really good You seem to understand how light works and how it interacts with a mass from all angles. To be honest, I would call this done but I am and probably always will be inclined toward abstract realism.
  • This is fantastic! Especially for 20 min. It takes me 20 min just to work up the courage to touch the brush to the canvas lol :)
  • This is great! Do not care about the cheaters
  • This is just fantastic, I just tried a 20 min burst and I will not even post it - your on a different level @Julianna
    Very well done 
  • thank you @edavision @michalis @alsart     So 4 more days left to the challenge - it's interesting.  I managed to finish my lemon - "finish" as in ruin.  I just cannot be subtle and I get obnoxious and then just lose myself in the lusciousness of the paint.... and then, before I know it, I'm back to my old self again.

    So I probably spent another 2 hours as I just kept seeing more and more 

    @alsart - the 20 minutes starts when you begin to paint on the support - colors already laid out in steps on the palette.

    This may be something I'll re-visit or paint over.  Here is the "finished" study

    I would love feedback if you so desire.  

  • edited January 2018
    I ran into such a situation painting my recent portrait, the more I looked all the more I saw and understood as well, mostly in the color department. I think it's about, keep on trying/practicing until you get to some satisfying level that you can real work and even master eventually. So here it appears to me that maybe you over worked it, I prefer the previous step above, looks similar in style and as well painted as your most recent flowers. The challenge is to learn to recognize when to stop and pull off while recognizing the value in that is the key point. 
  • @Forgivenes exactly!  I think the stepping off frequently is very important.  Isn't painting fun though!  I can't wait to see your flower completed.  Thank you for your input!

  • Such an interesting idea @Julianna
    I agree with @Forgiveness that the second painting is better , looser and more your own unique style. 
    Keep sending us your daily paintings. It’s very inspiring for people like myself who are a bit stuck at the moment.  ;)
  • This is great @Julianna. Each step you have posted is a finished painting. And you have nailed subtlety!
  • You'll have bitter-sweet memories of this painting. Well Done. I'm predicting your next painting will have a lot of yellow in it as well. You sound like you've fallen in love with it.
  • Ok.  This is challenging!  I picked a meyer lemon from my tree this morning - tried to add some interest with some stems/leaves =  too much for a quick study = here I am at 20 minute timer shut off -  I'll take a break and go for another 20 and see progress and then, I'll try to finish it today.  Thank you for indulging my learning process.
    the setting:

  • Don't be so hard on yourself. You're trying an experiment with a time restraint when everyone here is telling everyone else to slow down. This looks like a lemon with the stem and leaves attached and it has great colors, shadows and the values are pretty darn good too. The table/board is a nice tone and gives the lemon some vibrancy  and the leaves are toned down well enough to offset the vibrancy with subtlety so I think you should call this a successful experiment. 
  • I am confused, so are you painting in 20 min segments or stopping and starting the clock (like a chess move) and will finish once the 20 mins runs out @Julianna
    Looking great by the way
  • @alsart   the 5 day challenge is to do 20 minute studies - I needed some motivation to paint again.  After the 20 min timer, people may choose to keep working.  I set the timer again for 20 minutes just out of curiosity (I also have an instructor who encourages 40 min studies - just to get values down etc... - great learning they say) so, because I want to try to make a decent painting, I am continuing to paint  after the timer and find that I am way over-working things when I have more time.I have to start another the following day so I can't linger.  It used to take me months to finish a painting so I feel I need this.  I've also been watching Mark's videos again and got inspired to paint value and shapes and this time helps with that.  I am learning a great deal.  How important the prepared palette is, Stepping back constantly to see from a distance.   Value, value, value - painting shapes and not things.  We'll see if my painting improves?  At least I am painting again.
  • OK.  So the experiment today with the meyer lemon from my yard did not go well.  I picked stems and leaves and thought I was clever.  I spent about 3 hours after the timer trying to work matters - I am stepping back a lot and trying to just look at value and shapes - I forgot how much Mark mentioned this in his videos (I have been watching his videos again on my tv) - so, I don't know that I'll bore y'all with the next 3 days.  I may do a silver spoon tomorrow and I have a silver dish for another day and then something blue for the final day.  I found that the leaves and stems added nothing to the painting and distractedSo, I did a lot of scraping and this is the final study

    Sorry for the bad quality, this is my cheap cell phone - my fancy camera is dead.  So, this has been fun, I'm learning a ton and the best is I am painting again.

    Thank you for any suggestions and input.  The composition is horrible with the 7x11 so if I choose to save this, I will be cutting the linen to a more pleasing dimension.   I absolutely love painting on linen - I can't believe the years I painted on store bought canvases with sizes that could not be adjusted.

  • No wonder my 20 min effort was so bad, when in the mood I might post it - I understand now fully thanks 
    @Julianna agree with the Value value 
  • I'm really enjoying seeing you complete these 20 min studies...even though they take longer then that (which is fine...20 min in painting time is nothing). I'm extremely impressed by the quality of these paintings, I actually liked this one with the leaves and stems but your right the second is a better composition. 

    I'm inspired, I might try doing these quick studies myself soon :)  How do you paint on just linen? Do you mount it on board or something first? I love the idea of not having to rely on "store sizes" which is what I'm stuck with right now. 
  • @edavison ; - I would definitely recommend the challenge, now, the palette mixing is not included in that time so just work your steps as much as you like but once you start painting on the support, knowing that you have 20 minutes helps with seeing the big shapes and values.  There is no way anyone would want to keep a 20 minute painting but it is valuable in getting the juices flowing.  

    I have a beautiful silver spoon that I am going to try tomorrow -  less is more with these quick studies.

    Mark recommends Centurion oil primed linen and jerrys has pads that they now sell that I am hearing great things about so you may want to check that out.  It's like a sketch pad of linen sheets - beautiful!  You can cut a sheet down to smaller sizes if you wish.

    I got an amazing deal (steal) on jerry's website one day for a very large roll of oil primed linen  - it even included free shipping and with the weight and size, that was a miracle.  - it will last me a long time.    I cut sizes that suit me, I even purchased stretcher bars and feel like a handywoman when I am stretching my own canvas but for the most part - it is just so easy.  If I want to allow for stretching on stretcher bars, I add  3 inches extra on all sides - I tape off what will be wrapped on the stretcher bars.  If I am doing studies or may want to glue to a support, I just cut the size and use scotch tape rolled under the corners and attach it to board.  I mainly use foam core board from the dollar store (I also use that for my cheap still life set up - you can see it in the photos of the lemon still life set up). An eraser board from Target also  works great for taping the linen.  In the long run, I will have saved thousands of dollars on store bought canvases and it is so freeing to know I can just cut whatever size I wish at any given time and paint and try and throw it away if I absolutely hate a piece.  And the texture and feel is unsurpassed.  Now, I must warn you, the first time using oil primed linen can be a slippery slope (as in, the paint seems to slide around or be very slick and transparent) - I did not like it all at first and several people on this forum helped me figure out what was happening,  now, I am used to it and really love it.

    Sorry for being so verbose, I just hope you keep painting!!!  Thank you for your support.

  • I love your lemon studies, @Julianna. I'm amazed at what you achieve in just 20 minutes. It's great practice I'm sure I could benefit from. You seem so committed to your painting.  :)
  • You are an inspiration and I love your lemons.
  • I really like seeing you animated by your art again. I think sometimes we get so bogged down in detail we forget to step back and see the whole. 

    This is  nice rendition. I liked the first painting best because of the leaves. But I can see how you would prefer the final composition. 

    Keep painting Julianna!
  • edited January 2018
    You are amazing! I like your paintings here and this exercise that you share with us. I like the velocity and passion at which you are working, this is motivating and strong. This is enough to shake out any cob webs accumulated in my studio. I believe this is more important to the artist's soul and keeping it alive, if the 20 minute painting works out, then bonus. In these paintings you conquered subtle, getting values real well, limited palette is great, and developed a greater sense of realism. In 20 minutes , it may be wise to work with few values such as 3, 4. Your composition is not horrible, it just wasn't considered carefully enough beforehand on those tries. Just as you have to have your palette already to go, preparation of composition ready to go as well, this will help you to slow down and relax and boost your confidence. I disagree with no way of finishing a painting in 20 minutes, take @ Kaustav's recent Teddy Bear painting as just one example, but it doesn't always and rarely happens, but what an incredible moment it was. I believe this is what there is to live for in these kinds of exercises, that element of surprise, when and if, one works out. The ability to purchase a roll of canvas at a deal is great (just check it real well before purchase for quality control ) and use it as you need as you go works real well. Good work, keep painting!
  • Indication excersices are hard
    Good stuff @Julianna !
    Quick sketching, gesture painting should help immensely and reflect that authenticity in your longer efforts
    I have started to do quite a bit of 1,5,10,20 minute sketching in charcoal and have found it to be an excellent warm up
    Much akin to stretching before a Sprint.

    Perhaps also try monochromes?
    They reveal a lot more mistake in edges, form and value than you would think or find in a beautiful colored painting, at least in my experience.

  • I find it so difficult to get values right when I'm NOT concerned with time. So I have to say you're learning a great deal with these exercises  because your values are pretty darn good. as for Jerry's Artarama I have to agree. They have everything (almost) and always (almost) at the best prices. 10'X32' feet of linen would last me my whole life if I'd purchased it with my Christening money.
  • edited January 2018
    Your work is very good @Julianna and definitely u caught the "soul" the essence from the lemon, and I like your style expecially in the fist one u posted. I should try one of those exercise..maybe from life outside could be a good idea, buying a small easel and go and paint little objects using a small palette and a big brush! Thank you also for the roll' line oil primed suggestion!
  • This exercise certainly has me painting again!  I am watching DMP videos again on our tv and last night was so surprised to see at around the 11:45 minute spot - Mark mentions about coming up with exercises to help students speed paint.  WHAT!!!  Speed paint exercises with DMP?  I missed that with the first viewing.  

    I do find the first 20 minutes of these exercises takes some deep breaths, set the timer and concentrate like crazy - I want the canvas covered in 20 minutes.  I find another 20 minutes helps with quick corrections so I think 40 minutes would be ideal for quick studies (susan lyon paints beautiful porcelain dolls 40 minute studies and they are just lovely).  I would love for a suggestion from Mark what he thinks would be a good exercise time.  I have 2 more days left - today is a silver dish - tomorrow something blue/purple.  Thankfully, I have a lot of dirty greys from the previous days palette so no paint is wasted.  I won't bore with the quick study step posts but it is great fun so would recommend it to anyone so inclined.  Thank you for your encouragement!
  • Oh wow @Julianna this is really interesting.  I enjoyed seeing these. Thanks for showing us.
  • @Julianna, touch of a masochist there... why would anyone put themselves through the pain of a 20 min painting !!! If you want to loosen up, give it a go. If you usually take hours to do a painting, then just cut the time in half. The paintings are great, I prefer the lemon without the leaves... well done you :)
  • Great excercise, I love the outcome
  • You've inspired me again!  Great daily exercise.  I love your lemon!
  • I'm glad you are sticking with the timed exercises and liking it. I'll continue to plod and stumble along with no consequence of time.
  • I think the purpose of timed exercises is to master a stroke and get as much out of each stoke you can. Each dab, daub, flick as to the finished product and gives the overall a masterful look. I remember a guy showing me how to paint a cabinet door with enamel. His sur confident strokes were efficient and the results were apparent even though it was just a mono-toned painted object. I was just covering a door in paint. Calligraphers are great to watch, each stroke is very apparent. And because of practise they know where each stroke begins and ends prior to it's application to the surface. They "see" the stroke. I imagine this is how Rubens painted.

  • Very inspiring! Just what I needed to grasp! Tried some quick painting years ago and I liked it. Mostly outdoors painting what is before me in 1-2 days. 
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