This particular project resulted from an acrylic painting class I signed up for in October 2008. Our class was given an interesting still life to paint that was supposed to expose us to a number of challenges and painting techniques. The detail alone made us cringe with fear, especially when our teacher told us we had to paint it as realistically as possible (which meant, among other things, counting and accurately reproducing every single grape in the image). To make sure we did not secretly remove elements from the still life (resulting in less objects to paint), we were each given a photograph to work from.
I love to draw and paint but I must be honest here - this was not a pretty picture. There was nothing in this photograph that was remotely interesting to me. I have nothing in my house that works with a Southwestern theme and I don't like drawing or painting fruit or flowers. Apart from the diversity of the items in the image, there was not much to attract me to this challenge. I spent most of the first session dreaming about painting an Elvis on velvet or some dogs playing poker...
Our teacher was wonderful at helping us dissect the image. Drawing the elements accurately turned out to be a really big challenge for some of us but the biggest question was "What do I paint first?".
We worked from the background forward, building layers and colors and constantly thinking about things like accurate color mixing, choosing the right brush, and how to achieve depth and shape by blending colors. By the third class we were painting grapes and other fruit elements in the foreground. We were also learning how to throw the color of the foreground objects on to the background objects and the importance of shadows and light. We were giddy with our newly acquired skills and confidence!
Then the worst possible thing happened - we were finished with our 6 painting sessions that made up our class in total but we were not finished with our paintings! I had an entire cob of corn left unpainted (approximately 272 kernels) and a number of small elements were still undefined. What were we supposed to do now!?!
Our teacher told us to use the skills we had learned and keep working on the painting. She told us we would learn more from the painting if we never considered it finished but instead saw it as a 'work in progress', Something we could come back to often to apply our newly learned skills and insights. I suddenly had visions of the terrible painting that would never go away...
After Christmas I met with a classmate and, together, we took on the challenge of finishing the painting. We met 2 more times and each managed to complete our paintings (to our satisfaction at least).
It's not my finest work but I have learned a LOT. Many of the skills I developed painting this piece I will use in the future; I am SURE of it. This fact, unfortunately, does not change one important thing - I really, really hate this picture.
I did sign this painting and I'm proud to say it hangs on a wall in my house. OK, it hangs on the wall in my Garage (next to the hot water heater) but the garage is part of my house, right?
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