Frustrated! Another false start.

I keep running into the same problem over and over again painting a metal object (pitcher) which is similar to the cup Mark painted -- getting lost in detail and abstract shapes. Mark, when I watch you paint the cup, you use the color checker and paint what you see, on the one hand, but it looks like you also ignore a lot of the detail (tarnish, splotches, different colored reflections) and put those in later. While I was watching, I kept thinking, how are you seeing and painting the general light and shaded areas with all those reflections and tarnish splotches in the way? How do you square that with what the color checker is telling you? I'm really having a hard time figuring out what to pay attention to and what to ignore, and when. In drawing you are taught focus on the big shapes first and detail later. But how do you do that with color and your approach?


  • There are large areas of a value around those tarnish spots usually. Try and just look at the large areas like the shadow, the midtone areas, the part int the will want to get the form and then all those little details of tarnish. When I paint a grape, I always work to get that form in but the brownish dirty areas are what make them look real. Keep working, don't think of it as metal, or as a pitcher....just color shapes and value....the large shapes of it.
  • tjstjs -
    edited October 2012
    Mnsrc from your comment and the type of still life photo you uploaded I take it you are into classical realism. Your setup is first rate and so gorgeous.

    Liz is right. You are not painting a pitcher or a 'thing'. What I remind myself of constantly is to think of the entire scene as 'one thing' and not something with 'lots of things' in it. Just concentrate on one little section at a time and paint "what you see and not what you think you see".

    When you start 'thinking' about what you are painting, that's when you get into trouble. Mark says all the time, it's gonna look wrong to you. You are thinking of the big picture. You can't do that. It's all just abstract shapes within a whole.

    Keep telling yourself...."Paint what I see not what I think I see. The entire scene is actually one big thing not lots of little things. It's all gonna look wrong - don't fix"

    Once I got that into my head, it worked.

    (sorry for all the edits. My cat keeps walking in front of my keyboard. I can't see what I'm doing here!)
  • Reminds me of a quote - origin unknown...
    There's nothing more abstract than a realist painting.


  • edited October 2012
    Thanks, you guys. I appreciate it. Dencal, sounds like Robert Hughes!

  • Hi Martin! I had the same problem. Liz and TJ are exactly right. When I ignored what I was painting and only worried about matching a color and putting it in a specific spot, I made a break through. While that is easy to say, I appreciate how hard it can be to do. My moment of understanding came when I did a bit of an experiment....I hung smaller objects upside down in my shadow box, objects that, to me, looked very odd when upside down, for example, a red apple with the stem pointing down looked odd to me including the odd shadows but a bunch of grapes hanging upside down did not look particularly odd to me. So I painted the apple. As I painted the apple, nothing made real sense to me on the canvas...didn't look like an apple...all I could do was match a color and put the color where I saw it. I also found I didn't hardly blend when I did this experiment....over-blending is something I continually struggle with. When I was done, and only when I was completely done, I turned the painting right side up... before me was probably the best apple I have ever painted! That's when the advice given you from Mark's video and the comments above by Liz and TJ above hit home. A little nutty perhaps but it worked for me.
  • Your painting will look horrible until it is done. It will look like paint, messy paint, you will not see your subject, you will see blobs of paint. It's the artists' curse, if I were there in person I would tell you to keep going, I just know it. The question is not "does it look good?", the questions are "did I check that color, did I measure that proportion, did I put in background first, then work from darks to lights .... just follow the rules and go!

    Then show us your horrible crap painting so we can have a look.... before you wipe it off.
  • Hahaha! Thanks, Gary and Mark. I appreciate it and I know from all of your paintings that the approach works, so I'm determined! No more wipe offs!

  • I really think that when it looks the absolute worst to me while I am doing it I get the best results in the end! X_X
  • I remember how scary it was for me when I first started Marks approach to painting... I wanted it to look good NOW! But if you just trust what you see and forget what you think it should look like, magically it will appear...promise. ;;)
  • Beautiful still life set up...I like it :)>-
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