It had been a while since we did any Still Life work in the class so I decided to kick off this semester with a demo.
The urn cost me all of $4 at the local Vincent DePaul outlet. The demo took a little over 2 hours to complete. The idea I wanted to convey was this: Give someone a plain object to paint, and they will usually do all the usual things to model the form with light and shadow to give it volume – (sometimes even when such modeling is not warranted). Give the same person a patterned object however, and often, the modeling of light and dark is forgotten or relegated in favour of the lights and darks of the pattern. The result – a two-dimensional depiction. This is not a bad thing in itself (think Matisse for example), but what if you want a want to show a fully modeled form?
This is what I wanted to demonstrate on Monday night. To emphasize the point, the vase had sections with a black background and sections with a white background. I turned the black section towards the spotlight. The key to successfully modeling a patterned object like this is to ensure that the values you use for any given area are guided in the first instance by the light falling across the surface of the object in its entirety and only secondarily by the local values dictated by the pattern. In this demo for instance, there are places where the paint used to depict some of the fully-lit “black” areas is actually lighter than the paint applied to some of the “white” areas that are in shadow.
This is an interesting exercise to try out and a great way to develop a mindset that constantly questions what we are really seeing in front of us.