Common objects like clothespins are good for practice in painting and drawing. It’s actually reminiscent of the Pop Art of the 20th century which often featured this type of mass-manufactured object as subject matter. Pop Artist Claes Oldenburg actually created a 54 foot tall sculpture of a clothespin.
For my study, I used a little 5 inch tall wooden manikin. A manikin is a jointed model of the human body. I thought it fit in with the wooden clothespin, but it was a bit more challenging to render because of the curved surfaces.
The painting above is my 36th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about warm light and cool shadow. It is similar to the cardboard box in Lesson 8 except that here color has been added to the light and shadow.
For my gift bag below, I started out using more saturated color in the shadows (a la Wayne Thiebaud) but wound up having to tone them down in order to unify the whole. I think it takes a lot of practice to get boldly colored shadows without making the painting look tacky. I do, however, feel that the overall values are in key and I’m happy with the yellow and pink reflections on the table surface.
The painting above is my 35th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This is about rendering a transparent object. The author recommends practicing this with a variety of balloon animals. So I bought a kit and made some. The only problem was that my balloons weren’t transparent. Anyway, I think my bunny looks neat. The parrot, not so much.
The painting above is my 34th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about creating simple highlights on two different kinds of surfaces – glass and metal. Highlights vary in character according to the nature of a surface. The highlights on a matte surface will have soft blurry edges. A shiny surface will be brighter and have sharper edges. Since they are usually translucent, light bulbs may have both kinds of highlights.
For my highlight painting exercise, I decided to use a bulb in my studio that just happened to burn out the day I needed a model. It was saying, “Pick me! Pick me!” I decided to name it Soft Serve because the swirls coming up to a peak reminded me of the ice cream on one of those soft serve cones.
The painting above is my 33rd painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about using exaggerated color for expressive effect. Exaggerated or arbitrary color is the opposite of local color which is the natural way that people see things. In the bird’s eye view landscape above, the colors and shapes are exaggerated to create a dramatic or exciting effect. I like this painting. It would be fun to do some really big canvases like this – especially if I could afford to go up in a plane and take some original photos to work from.
For my expressive color exercise, I did a birds’ eye view of my neighborhood. I stayed with the prescribed palette but my composition is a bit more formal than the the one in the example. Also mine is geometric whereas the one in the example is free-form.
I’m actually thinking about doing this as a product to use as gifts or to sell. If someone wanted to commission a painting of their neighborhood, I could use Google Maps for the model and even create a custom color scheme to fit their interior decor.
The painting above is my 32nd painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about accenting with complementary colors. Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel. This concept is similar to the one in the previous lesson. Both lessons are about using contrasting colors for effect. This one is a just bit less dramatic. Its harmonious blue and green color scheme is simply livened up a bit by the bright rust color which is derived from orange.
For my own example I did another Grand Canyon scene which is dominantly cool like the example. The distant orange rock formations create the warm colored accents.
I have to say that I’m very happy about the way this one turned out except for the way the orange rock formation is sitting too close to the center. This brings up three points to consider.
The first is that in an informally balanced composition like this you should never place an object directly in the center.
The second is that, even if you took the photo yourself, you may still need to tweak your composition a bit in the painting process.
The third is a problem with the medium: acrylics dry a shade darker. This can make “tweaking” a bit difficult because it can be hard to match the original colors. Which means you sometimes have to choose between the risk of ruining the whole thing or just leaving it alone.
I liked this painting enough to just let that little rock formation stay there in the center.
The painting above is my 31st painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about creating contrast with temperature. Temperature refers to the idea of warm and cool colors. Warm colors are usually reds, yellows, and oranges and are associated with things like sunlight and heat. The cool colors are the blues, greens, and violets which are associated with water and sky. If you look at a color wheel you will see that these are grouped on opposite sides. Putting both warm and cool colors in a painting creates an eye-catching contrast.
For my original work below, I used a rose which was growing at my mother’s house. The contrast in this color scheme is not as great as that in the example because of the deep reds of the rose. The bluish grid you see in the background is the cast shadow of a trellis. I loved the pattern created by the rectangles of sunlight. My son says it looks like the rose is sitting in front of a space station. Nice thought. I did this over a red underpainting which shows through a bit to help unify the painting.
The painting above is my 30th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about massing multiple objects into groups to create a more unified whole. The example was hard to paint because it was basically just copying brushstrokes. I changed it a bit from the one in the book in order to clarify the shapes of the flowers. These are Oriental Poppies.
I chose a different type of poppy for my own painting below. These have a different type of center and come in a variety of pinks. I love the white edging around some of the petals. However, as usual, my brushstrokes are overworked. I think I would have to paint a lot of poppies in order to get it as casual looking as Mark Daniel Nelson’s.
I also did a bookmark and an artist trading card for this post.
The painting above is my 29th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. Like the previous lesson, this one is about massing shapes in nature. In the example above, the river, the land mass, and the sky are all treated as generalized shapes. This type of simplification unifies a composition. The author points out, however, that looking past all the details in a complex scene can be challenging.
For my original effort at solving this problem I used for a model a photo I took at Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, Alabama. I got through the “massing” step just fine as the overall shapes of the sky, the water, the land and the trees are clear. The problem arose with finishing it. It was one of those situations in which an inner voice kept saying, “Stop! Don’t add that detail! Don’t blend that stroke! Quit tweaking those trees and rocks!” But I just kept on adding, blending and tweaking. As a result, my finished product is way more overworked than the example for this lesson.
See the person at the bend in the walkway? I don’t know who that is.
The painting above is my 28th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This is the first of three lessons about massing. The application here is that instead of trying to draw one banana at a time, you see the whole cluster as one shape, paint that and then go back and define the individual bananas within that shape.
This is similar to the drawing principle of working from the whole to the part. For example, if you squint your eyes at my cluster of grapes you can see that the overall silhouette is a triangular wedge. Starting with a drawing of that shape as opposed to adding one grape at a time allowed me to quickly fit the whole cluster into the picture space as a unified whole. This is a great time saver.