DAILY PAINTING 42 – GLASS JAR

Glass Jar painted like the example in the book, 6" x 6"
Glass Jar painted like the example in the book, 6″ x 6″

The painting above is my 42nd painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson.  This lesson is about painting a transparent object.  As you saw with the blue bird in the previous lesson, there are layers of free form shapes that go together to create the illusion of transparent glass.  Some of those shapes are from the background you can see through the glass.  Some shapes seem to be within the glass itself. And finally, if it’s shiny, there are reflected shapes on the surface.  You can simplify the process of duplicating this effect by eliminating some of the smaller details or by staging an object in simpler surroundings.

For further practice I painted the little glass container below with some colored eggs to brighten it up.  These eggs represent my effort at Pysanky, the Russian art of decorating eggs with a wax resist process. They may look like what a first grader in Russia might have achieved but I like them anyway and will probably include them in some more still lifes. After all that work they need to be used for something.

Deanna Williamson, Pysanky Eggs, 7" x 5", acrylic on canvas, 2016
Deanna Williamson, Pysanky Eggs, 7″ x 5″, acrylic on canvas, 2016

DAILY PAINTING 41 – BLUE CUP

Blue Cup painted like the example in the book 50 Small Paintings, 6" x 6", acrylic on canvas
Blue Cup painted like the example in the book, 6″ x 6″

The painting above is my 41st painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. This lesson is about painting reflections on a colored surface.  The rule is that the shinier the surface the more reflections you have and the sharper the edges of highlights and reflected shapes.  It’s also important to respect the distortions created by the curved surfaces and paint the reflections as you see them, not as you think they should look- that is, if it’s realism you’re after.

For further practice I decided to paint the little glass blue bird below. Because of the transparency of the glass, I experimented with different colored card stock for the background and finally settled on the light green.  The multitude of tiny pinpoint highlights in the glass are due to the fact that I have six overhead light bulbs in my studio. Anyway, I was pleased with the way this turned out.

Deanna Williamson, Blue Bird, 6" x 6" acrylic on canvas
Deanna Williamson, Blue Bird, 6″ x 6″ acrylic on canvas

DAILY PAINTING 40 -TIN CUP AND CHERRY

Tin Cup and Cherry painted like the example in the book 50 Small Paintings, 6" x 6", acrylic on canvas
Tin Cup and Cherry painted like the example in the book, 6″ x 6″

The painting above is my 40th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson.  This lesson is the first of three about rendering reflective surfaces like metal and glass. In the example a shiny metal surface is suggested by the shadows -free-form shapes and vertical bands of gray and white – and by the reflection of the cherry in the side of the cup.

When I was looking for a model for further practice I wanted something shinier than the cup in the example so that it would reflect more detail from its surroundings.  I found the cup below at a salvage store. It has two horizontal bands of shell mosaic around the top and middle that break up the reflective surface, but the metal was polished enough that there were still plenty of reflected shapes. I also spent a lot of time staging the set up, trying out different objects to bring in color. In addition to the marbles and string, I also added a roll of multi-colored crepe paper that’s not included in picture space, but you can see its reflection in the left side of the cup.  I did that to break up a large dark area of solid shadow.  The vertical bands of red near the center are reflections of my shirt color.

Metal Cup With Napkins, 7" x 5", acrylic on canvas, 2016
Deanna Williamson, Metal Cup With Napkins, 7″ x 5″, acrylic on canvas, 2016

There are two main problems in painting a reflective surface like this. The first one is that any kind of curved surface distorts the shapes reflected in it. If you want your object to look realistic you have to avoid the urge to “fix” those.  Just trust your eyes and paint the shapes as you see them. The other problem is that while working on a model like this, every time you step forward or back a little, the shapes change a bit. It helps to have a piece of tape on the floor in front of the easel to mark your standing spot. My metal study didn’t turn out as metallic looking as I’d hoped, but I still like the final product.  For examples of perfectly rendered reflective surfaces, check out the links to the artists in Lesson 39.