Day 0004

An apple. As always, a terrifying morass to paint, with a simple structure that reveals any deficiency in perception or representation of volume or form. Additionally, apples have a texture that incorporates streaks that follow the longitudinal lines of their structure, meaning you have to get the patterns right, as well. Finally, they shift between yellows, greens and reds in their larger markings, while maintaining the relative contrast in streak texture across the larger variations. The recipe, as such, is that you need to use the representation of a fine texture of streaks as displayed over a larger texture of mottling to describe a simple spheroid, and then apply appropriately chosen colors for the highlight over the inititial variations of light and shade on a sphere in order to finally capture the low polish of the texture of apple skin.

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Day 0003

A pair of golden mangoes. I like the color yellow a lot, as it’s generally sunny and exciting, but without the freight of symbolism that red carries. Still, it’s a major pain to use it well. I use Cadmium Yellow Hue for my go-to yellow. The “hue” in the name just means that while it isn’t genuine cadmium yellow, the color in the tube has been formulated to behave as much like it as any non-metallic pigment can, that is, it’s (reasonably) opaque, intensely colored, and very warm. The hue colors are generally made from what are called synthetic organic pigments. These are bright, permanent colors that, while not having the opacity of metal pigments have the advantage of not losing so much chroma (color intensity) when mixed with other colors. In other words, the palest yellows, mixed with white, will still have a strong ‘yellowness’ about them, whereas with cadmiums, they get much duller. This can be a great asset when painting, provided you take it into account and make an effort to dull the color as I did here. Of course, you can dull yellow toward cooler or warmer, to vastly different effect, and that’s what I was trying to observe here. While my vision is pretty damn blurry, I seem to be able to pick up on warm and cool contrasts pretty well. The result of having a built-in neutral density filter? The result of doing this for forty years? Who knows.

Day 0002: Just a number makes it more serious

These are exercises, limited to one half-hour start to finish, and done in oil. These first ones are on canvas board, but I have a big stash of Arches brand oil paper, a type of watercolor paper that resists the acid in linseed oil and is permanent when painted on with same. The paper is thinner, and easier to store, so I’ll be using that for a while. Until I run out, for sure, but I may just decide to stick with it. There’s a certain delightfully cruddy quality about painting in oil on paper. Oil has this reputation, at least for me, of historical preciousness, of a finicky requirement to work in a particular manner, in particular layers, Never mind that it’s simply the most fun painting medium out there. it has a psychological heft that can mess with your head, If you let it. The thing daily exercise painting lets me do is ignore the preciousness of oil and just use it as a tool.

This is a couple of bottles old enough to have become slightly translucent. Aside from the ovals of their bases and necks being an easy way to see if I’ve messed up the damn perspective, they’re a lot of fun to paint. My usual palette:

Gamblin Flake White Replacement

Utrecht Burnt Sienna

Any old brand of Ultramarine Blue

Utrecht Permanent Green Medium

Utrecht Cadmium Red Hue

Utrecht Cadmium Yellow Hue


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Day 0001. The Optimistic Beginning

To begin again.

A painting of an abalone shell. Chosen because the mother-of-pearl interior of an abalone is gorgeous, and slightly difficult to paint. Basically, the process involves getting your neutral colors correct (a violet-gray) and then pulling pure greens and reds out as the angles of the interior of the shell change. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t painted seriously in about a year. I could ascribe it to having cataracts, but it would be more accurate to say it’s purely due to the existence of the cataracts getting me to question myself and why I paint. Some discussions with a friend, and some reading of philosophy made me realize, “What difference does it make why I paint, as long as I paint?” So I’m painting. Feels better.

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