29 September 2011

Limited brushstrokes exercise

This painting was in response to a weekly challenge on dailypaintworks.com. The challenge was to assemble 2 to 3 items into a still life arrangement and calculate the minimum number of brushstrokes required for the painting.
Blue vase, bowl and pear still life limited brushstroke challenge
A4 size, oil on canvas board

I set up the still life on a glass sheet over a dark red cloth to see if I could capture some reflections and then illuminated it with a flood light on the right. I drew in the design with a watercolour pencil, indicating the large masses. I calculated I needed a minimum of 32 brushstokes to create the painting.

I had two practice runs on scrap cardboad coated in gesso before committing to the canvas baord. This practice helped me to find out how to manipulate the brush to get the long gestural strokes in one pass and what thickness of paint to use. With my first effort, I stopped counting my strokes after about 50 LOL. My second effort was more successful as I realised I had to thin the paint a little so that it would flow more easily. When I moved onto the canvas board the surface was much easier to handle and I had ALMOST finished at 32 strokes but couldn't resist some fiddling. So I used about 40 strokes to get this far. I mainly used a large No.10 brush which certainly helps with the no fiddling rule!

This was a very good exercise, and I learnt quite a bit while doing this. I am still a bit hesitant when using oils as I am fairly new to them and have not explored it enough yet to feel truly confident with all the techniques. Using cardboard certainly helps to loosen up the painting style as there is nothing to loose apart from paint!

This painting no longer exists - I have scraped off the paint and will reuse the board for another trial.