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Onion Update -- Third layer FINISHED!!! IT WASN'T. NOW IT REALLY IS!!!!!!!!

Still slaving away on the onion. I'm working on the third layer. I keep seeing so many things wrong with it that I don't know when it'll be finished. All suggestions and critiques welcome as always.



  • I think it’s FANTASTIC @ArtistMartin1
    You’re so used to looking at it that you can’t see it !! 
    That’s the artist’s curse.  That onion is 100% well rendered.  
     You’ve done an amazing job. 
    Onions are not easy but you’ve nailed it. 
    You’ve got that papery look on the skin. 
  • @Hilary -- thanks for reminding me about the artist's curse and for the very kind words. I forgot about the artist's curse. Maybe it's so in this case. I'll see what my teacher says :)  and report back.
  • Looks good! Have you got a source photo we can look at? Maybe we could help give C&C if you want based on that..?
  • @Richard_P, Thank you. Yes, here's the original photo. But there are two circumstances you ought to know about. I originally set it up in my studio at our Florida vacation home. I only got it about half finished. I was painting it from life in my shadow box rather than from a photo. When I got back home and put it in the shadow box here, I just couldn't get the light correct, so I've been working since then from the photo. Here it is:

  • At least painting from a photo won't cause pesky lacrimation. But this photo does not elude to the translucent quality often seen with onions. Remarkably, your painting is starting to show "movement" towards that translucency. The skin colors and values are all excellent. this is another painting that's going to surprise you when six months hence you take it out of storage to varnish it and you'll say: "this turned out a lot better than I thought it would."
  • You have stronger highlights in the photo than in your painting, but that could just be due to the lighting/flash. Perhaps slightly crisper highlights on the edges of the brown skin would help?
  • Amazing, nothing left to betray this magnificent work is a painting,
  • @BOB73, @Richard_P, and @khaled, thank you for your comments.
    @BOB73, better translucency on the skin is precisely what I'm going to be working on today.
    @Richard_P, I agree totally with your observation about crisper highlights on the edges of the brown skin. I'll be working on that, too.
    Just want to let everyone know that I appreciate your comments and find them helpful.
  • Agree with what has already been said.  Painting wood has been one and f my biggest challenges thus I would make the front of the counter more defined - given the painting just enough depth.  The onion is great!!
  • @Rtaeger -- thank you for the comment.
  • I think its just great,
  • It looks even better now.  The brighter highlight definitely a good idea. This seems to make the onion look fresher than before and definitely more like your reference photo. 
     Also the edges look crisper. 
    Great advice from @Richard_P
    You HAVE to be proud of this now @ArtistMartin1
     I just want to tear off that paper and chop it up.  :)

  • @alsart and @Hilary, thank you, both. I am proud of it, Hilary. It's definitely a step forward for me, I believe. I'm going to do a series of these single-object, 6"x6" paintings. Total focus on one object I have found to be a good way to learn. Thanks again.
  • edited March 2018
    "Total focus on one object... a good way to learn." I agree. great work!
  • edited March 2018
    The realism in this is superb! it's good when you can go that one extra mile to bring it home and I like your title for this.
  • @Forgiveness -- thank you. I guess to a certain degree it's all about looking and seeing. And that's one of the most important things my teacher is helping me to learn.
  • It does make a difference!  I liked it before but now, it is even better.  I always need fresh eyes - I can't see anymore when I have painted something.  Beautiful!!!
  • edited March 2018
    B)                                                      Something for the more humor filled side of learning to looking and seeing in art.
  • @Julianna, yes, fresh eyes help tremendously. Thanks for your kind comment. 
  • HilaryHilary -
    edited March 2018
    Yes , it really is finished now. 
    You’ve drawn attention to the humble onion which is actually such a complex series of textures and layers. 
    I’ve  enjoyed your progress with this so much @ArtistMartin1 , and I’ve learned a lot , too , about paying attention to the minutest of detail. 
    I doubt this could be any better. 

  • edited March 2018
    @Hilary -- Thank you so much for your kind comment. But, an interesting thing happened today. My teacher came over to my studio for my lesson, which had nothing to do with the onion. But she took a look at it. I knew that she was pleased with it because she signed off on it with her usual phrase: "Sign it and put a fork in it because it's done!"

    Then she said, "you know, I can nit-pick to death forever, including my own." I said, "Nit-pick away, Teach." And so she pointed out at least six things (don't have my notes in front of me) that, if executed correctly, could make the painting much better. So, I'm going to spend the next two days working on the things she pointed out (and keep my fingers crossed).

    Don't know whether I'll post the changes here, though. People must be sick by now with my coming back all the time saying "now it's really finished."  But I'm looking forward to working on it again. There's so much to learn to get to the next level.
  • @Wishiwaspainting -- "Thank you, thank you," Martin said as he took a bow  :)
  • @Forgiveness -- looks like a fun book. Thanks for posting it.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Don't know whether I'll post the changes here, though. People must be sick by now with my coming back all the time saying "now it's really finished."  But I'm looking forward to working on it again. There's so much to learn to get to the next level.
    No sir, we want to see.  There's an awful lot for us to learn here.

    If you were to tell us what the nit pick was, we can see what you did in response.  I for one am interested in how on earth you manage to improve it further.
  • HilaryHilary -
    edited March 2018
    I agree with @PaulB This is a great way to learn. 
    I’d love if you could post the improvements because we’re all learning from the exercise. 
    I honestly didn’t think you could do better but I’m open to correction. 

  • @PaulB and @Hilary -- you're both right. We're all here to learn from one another. I have to go out now, but in the morning I'll list the things she mentioned. Thanks for sharing in the learning.
  • Great colors, onion looks realistic and painterly:)
  • @Datura, thanks for your kind comments.

  • @PaulB, @Hilary, and anyone else who might be interested. Here are the things that Cindy suggested could be improved and which I'm going to attempt. First I should say that the whole purpose of this exercise at this point is really two-fold: first to increase the painting's verisimilitude to life (or it's realism) and, second, in finishing it, make it as close to a truly professional painting as is possible for me at this stage of my development.

    I should say that some of the work I have to do has to do with the fact that although my original drawing was quite exact (unfortunately I don't have a photo of that) when I started painting I didn't follow or, better, perhaps, messed up the drawing. A good example of that is 2 in the image above. Those folded over pieces of skin are not the same shape or in the same position as the original. (The photo of the original is the second image from the top in this thread.)

    Also as a general observation, she pointed out many, many places where either the hue, the value, or the chroma were off; or places where all three were off (she calls that the "tone.")

    The 1 in the image really should be pointing to the outer edge of the onion in that area. The edge is hard, as it should be, but when you look closely (you can see it better if you scroll up to the last image I posted), it's not entirely smooth -- there's a bit of fuzziness. This is due primarily to my having not used a Mahl stick to steady my hand. I'll repaint it using the stick. 

    3 combines two problems: the upper edge of that piece of skin needs to be much better defined -- there are other internal edges that also have that problem. And usually, those problems are accompanied by a problem in tone as well.

    6 is another problem similar to the one illustrated in 3.

    5 is a place where the tone transitions are off.

    4 is very interesting I think. The red line I drew really should have included the whole piece of papery skin on the right as well. That piece sticking out, although well painted, is another place where I messed up the drawing. I will repaint it to make it conform better to the original photo. The area between the edge of the onion and the piece of skin sticking out, it sorely lacking in correct values.

    Finally, at the bottom of 4, you can't really make out the way the edge should be continued around to the left to join at the point where the shadow ends toward the right. When that is better defined, you'll also be better able to see that lower piece of onion skin sticking out toward the right.

    Whew! I've got my work cut out for me -- but I'm looking forward to it. I don't know how long this will take me, but I'm hoping that I can do it with a relatively full day of painting today and tomorrow. Wish me luck.
  • Watching this with great interest @ArtistMartin1
    And thank you for taking the trouble to send the details. Did you see Mark’s latest video where he talks about the stepping down of dark values very gradually ? 
    Something that makes the difference between a good and a great painting. 
    All these tiny attentions to detail separate the wheat from the chaff I suppose , whether it be painting , sculpture, music , writing or whatever. 
    You’re fortunate to have an exacting teacher who is willing to go the extra mile with you in pointing out these minute improvements. It’s something which will greatly help you in your progression as an artist.  
    Good luck  ;)
  • edited March 2018
    @Hilary, not only did I see Mark's latest video about stepping down of dark values, I had intended to mention that is what I wrote this morning. That is definitely an important part of the process. Thanks for mentioning it. (So far I've spent about three hours this morning just working on that piece of skin on the right-hand side!)
  • You are so lucky to have a patient and honest teacher (not to mention skilled) and we are so lucky to have you share her skills AND yours with all of us. BTW, I saw those 6 areas for improvement too. Not really. In fact I was weeping with joy that you had "Fin shed" it.
  • It's been about 20 days since I was last here -- too long. We've been at our vacation home, where I also have a studio. I didn't take the onion with me -- it's on the easel at home and will have to wait another 10 days or so until I can get back to it. In the meantime, I have a WIP that's driving me crazy here, an artichoke. Not quite ready to show yet even as a WIP.

    @JC_Pitre, thank you. @BOB73, you're right. I really am lucky to have Cindy as a teacher. About the only worry I have is that I'll disappoint her expectations.

    Off to look at the latest posted work from our forum members. I'll be back soon.
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