Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finishing a "Finished" Painting

A student recently brought this painting to class (done outside the class) for a critique. First, though, he added two additional elements to it to try to balance the composition - the palette knife on the lower left and the tube of paint on the lower right. This did not really do the trick. The apple, because it contained the strongest light int he painting, is the focal point, located in the left third of the painting, not a good place for a focal point to be. The lighting on the vase is inconsistent with the level of the light on the apple. One brush, which enters the vase at the lower left "corner", would go through the outside of the vase if it followed the path indicated by the top of the brush. The student wanted to just paint over this painting with a new one. Instead, I asked if I could show him how he could improve this painting before he covered it up.

I modeled the apple a little better by adding form shadow to the right dide and bottom of the apple, which not only improved the roundness of the apple, but also decreased the amount of light in the left third of the painting. I added a stem and its shadow. I painted over the palette knife and the tube of paint with the color of the table and increased the light on the table as it approached the vase. My purpose from here on was to change the focal point from the apple to the vase, which would make the focal point more appropriately placed.

I corrected the middle value on the vase as it turned out of the light into the form shadow on the right and I lightened the light value on the left third of the vase. I then added highlights to the main body of the vase and made these, as well as the highlights on the neck of the vase, much lighter and more intense than the highlights on the apple.

I moved (repainted) the errant brush into a position that would allow its handle to stand upright int he vase. I also added slight highlights to the brush handles to add to the effect that the light was hitting this area of the painting strongly. I also added a reflected light on the right edge of the vase.The last thing I did was add another green apple, totally in shadow, to the area behind and to the right of the vase, to balance the composition. This is not a great painting, but it is much improved from its original state. And now it will lie beneath a hopefully successful new painting for many years to come! My thanks to my student for allowing me to demonstrate this.


Anonymous said...


I was there when you started to change this painting, and the little touches that you did made all the difference in the world.
I learn so much from watching you use a brush and your technique.
Thank you for being a great teacher.

Pat Gray said...

Thanks, Terri, for your kind words. I'm very happy to have you in my class!

Judy P. said...

Pat, I have just discovered your blog through your E.E. newsletter article;
this correction demo was a great breakdown, and I wished I could have been a firsthand witness to it too!
Thanks from a beginner.