Continuing the Painting Process

The Next Step

In my last blog/story, “Beginning the Painting Process”, I outlined the first steps to creating a finished still life oil painting. There I took the process from a preliminary sketch to putting together a full still life set up in a shadow box, complete with directed lighting and all of the objects that I imagined in it.

Since then, I’ve done a preliminary “under painting” on the canvas using a neutral burnt sienna color to draw out the design/layout of the still life painting. As part of the under painting, I’ve laid in the dark and light areas, which assists in creating a three-dimensional look to the painting. You can also see the three-part grid that helps to delineate the composition and set up the painting’s focal point.

Now, normally, I don’t do under paintings. My work is usually done “alla prima” (first hit – one step). It’s more spontaneous and allows for looser brush work. In this case however, the painting is large and has multiple elements that need to fit together in a way that’s more cohesive and understandable. In other words, the complexity of the still life makes it a good candidate for an under painting, with multiple layers of paint (which I’ll explain in another blog posting).

Once the under painting was at a good point, I stepped away from it to allow it to dry. It also gave me a chance to look it over and ensure that the composition was both accurate and exciting. I realized that it was lacking “movement”. In a still life painting, where the elements are “still”, movement is created with brush strokes and how the artist has created eye movement across the canvas. Without some movement in the painting, it loses excitement and interest. Thus, it could be technically excellent, but it doesn’t communicate to the viewer very well.

Enhancing the Under Painting


Second Under Painting

The challenge now was to add an element or elements that would create the desired movement in the painting. Here you can see that I’ve added a knife at the bottom left-hand side, angled upward to lead the viewer’s eyes into the painting. The movement from there will continue to the upper right and back around to the left, by using brush strokes and color changes.

At this point, I’m pretty much ready to begin the actual painting. In my next blog/story I’ll show you the steps of adding layers of color and paint to build depth and three-dimension to the painting.


Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter