Live-blogging a Painting, part 1

This year I've followed a number of live-blogged events from my favorite bloggers - it's basically just a live event where the blogger writes commentary in real time. This has gotten me to wondering if a similar approach could be used with my paintings. Lots of artists are making condensed movies of their work sessions, showing the process start to finish. I've made a number of them myself.

While fun to do and watch, they do have some disadvantages. There is of course all the video editing involved; not unmanageable, but still work to do. Unless the artist is also stopping to speak, there's very little in the way of useful commentary. Also, it's more difficult to scan and search when in video form.

So, I decided to try this approach with one of my Fragment paintings. This is just an experiment; I have no idea beforehand how it will turn out, but... there's only one way to see. Here goes:

So this is the subject for today's painting. Pretty straightforward, except it will be severely cropped.

Shapes are lightly sketched in with pencil. I'm painting on brushed aluminum.

Applying paint to the dark areas of the background cloth first. I've experimented lately with skipping the underpainting phase and painting directly. That has worked well with paintings on darker grounds, but I can see right away that it's a mistake on the aluminum. The surface reflection is simply too great for the semi-transparent pigments to cover.

Strongly considering wiping down what's there and going back with a grisaille. At any rate, this is obviously going to be a 2-pass painting.

Applying more of the dark areas of the background cloth.

Painting in some of the lighter blue areas of the cloth pattern.

I am getting really concern about the direct to metal approach here. I think it just won't work without an underpainting.

I don't recall the last time I actually did a wiped0wn, but experimenting with a new support obviously calls for flexibility.

Clean slate; start over... this time with an underpainting.

Laying in some tones that represent the middle-range of the background cloth. At this point, frankly, accuracy is less important than providing a usable roadmap for the final painting phase.

Several of the surrounding dark tones are laid in.

Expanding the pattern.

Painting the shape of the spoon.

More of the background pattern. Far, far too light in value; it will be corrected in the final painting.

Working in some of the dark field; I tend to favor working with a very light part or a very dark part in establishing shape.

Very tough to get mirror image objects to correctly match, as in the case of these two flourishes.

Wrapping up the background detail

Beginning to build up the cup, working darker to lighter.

The rim of the saucer reflects light back onto the body of the cup. I find it's precisely these types of reflections, done absolutely right, that give a true sense of realism.

The outline of the saucer rim.

As the saucer is the object that captures light at closest to a 90-degree angle, and also as it's highly reflective, the rim (and the handle of the spoon) will be the brightest spots in the finished painting.

Simply laying in shadows.

The underside of the sauces captures reflected light from the table.

And done.

It's been an interesting experiment to write up the workday like this. Having finished the underpainting, I'm not sure if it's practical to do this often; there's a little too much work involved, and frankly I shouldn't be spending so much time on these small pieces. Maybe when I finish it tomorrow, I'll try a more abbreviated approach.

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