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Demonstration by Lori Mc Nee - FineArtTips.com LoriMcNee.com


The Concept:

Once I returned from the grocery store, I immediately set up my props. I wanted a fresh, country appeal to this painting. So, I chose the white doily and sliced open one of the lemons…I enjoyed its zesty scent. The ‘bluebird’ was the bird of choice for this cheery painting. I felt good about the set up – it had good energy and I was confident about this project.

However, little did I know that the title,Lemons to Lemonade” would literally foreshadow the agonizing process of this painting…

The Start:

Lately, my ‘starts’ have been more refined than my bolder approach towards blocking in. But with either approach, I generally begin my still life paintings with a sepia toned under-painting. For this ‘start’, I began by mixing raw umber and burnt sienna together and then thinned the mixture. I used this monochromatic color to nail the basic shapes, light patterns and shadows of the composition.  I am inspired by the Dutch masters who often worked in this manner.

oil painting underpainting

At this point I began to block in the color. My plan was to keep the colors harmonious, so I chose to use blues, oranges and warm yellows. So far so good…

still life oil painting demonstration

The Middle:

The middle part of any project, art related or not, can be the toughest. This is the time when we can get lost and lose focus –  and I did just that! In fact, I struggled with this painting for days and stopped photographing the stages because I was certain that this one would be fit for the dreaded – TRASH!

italian pitcher with lemons country lemonade

Then the painting’s name, “Lemons to Lemonade” hit me like a ton of bricks – Here I was, literally struggling with what seemed to be a ‘lemon’ of a painting! So right then, I decided to make ‘lemonade’ out of this situation. As soon as I changed my negative attitude, the painting turned from sour to sweet! Meaning…that one should make the best of bad situations. What a life lesson.

“When fate hands us a lemon, let’s try to make a lemonade”-Dale Carnegie
“If you have a lemon, make lemonade.” -Howard Luck Gossage

The problem was, I struggled with the weird shaped handle and then I got stumped on choosing the background color. The colors I experimented with were ruining the feel of the whole painting. Meanwhile, my juicy lemons were drying and shriveling up! Now, I wish I documented those various stages, but that was the last thing on my mind at the time – lol!

  • Finally, after trial and error – wiping and repainting, I decided upon keeping the warm sepias in the left-hand side with a gradation of cool tones as it progressed to the right side and into the light.
  • I chose a lavender blue shade which compliments the yellows and oranges.

still life set up painting demonstration

The Finish Line:

As most of you know by know, I add birds and often butterflies, and sometimes even a monkey, to my still life paintings. Once again, the Dutch Masters did it, so why can’t I?

  • I like to wait until the majority of the painting is completed before I add my ‘live’ subjects.
  • I start with the same sepia under-painting, just like the pitcher above.
  • Then I block in the color and add the details last.

still life oil painting demonstration

So, I am really glad that I stuck with this painting and was once again reminded of this age-old proverb, “If life deals you lemons make lemonade”

Italian pitcher and lemon oil painting with bluebird

bluebird oil painting

Read more: http://www.finearttips.com/2011/02/on-my-easel-3-from-lemons-to-lemonade/#ixzz2DD7lrLbb






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