Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Plum Still Life Daily Painting and Art Instruction

Original still life oil painting, 5"x7" unframed
Fresh plums on a dark blue plate, painted from life


We've not had the abundant fruit harvest this year as we did last year. I figured I'd better get outside today and pick whatever plums are left before the bears totally break the branches to get fruit (which they did to several last year). Dodging the piles of bear and deer droppings, I risked life and limb on the fruit ladder to harvest what I could reach.

I liked the way several had broken off with a short piece of the branch and thought they'd make an interesting still life. Here's a demo of the way I approached this loosely painted study which I painted live in low directional light.

First, I blocked in the shapes on a grey-tinted panel with dark oil paint (a mixture here of ultramarine blue and burnt umber).

I didn't bother to sketch this out because the composition and shapes were pretty simple and I knew where I wanted to go with it. (For a more complicated arrangement, I might draw things out first to decide what goes where. A sketch is especially handy in landscape painting en plein air, because there is frequently so much visual information it's good to decide in advance what shapes will be dominant and what might be good to leave out.)

Next I laid in greens for leaves (mixes of thalo green, cad green pale, yellow ochre and white) and then began painting in those fun pinks and reds (mixes of perm. aliz, white and thio violet).The sticks were sketched in (burnt umber and white mixes, also yellow ochre). More color (a little cad red scarlet and more aliz) was added to the plums and that purplish haze that makes plums look like plums was painted in by dragging some violet paint (mixes of thio violet, thalo blue and white) onto the surface.

I then painted in more blues on the background (mostly ultramarine with a touch of burnt umber and white, and a little thalo blue in the brighter spots) and the dark shadows (ultramarine, thalo green and aliz). On the plums I brushed in some warm glowing orange (cad scarlet and white) and then a very small highlight glow (white and cad yellow med).

I suggested the reflections under the plums and then added finishing touches to the sticks, plum stems and leaf stems. (See finished painting above.) Even though it's pretty loose, I decided this is enough to portray these blushing beauties.

©2008 Diana Moses Botkin


Dianne Mize said...

Lovely, Diana. And I really enjoyed your step-by-step. Isn't it a beautiful little mystery how these things just begin with simple materials and end up coming to life! Oh, and I like the rhythm in this one. sh

Diana Moses Botkin said...

So happy to hear you enjoyed that, Dianne.

Yes, it is indeed a mystery. Lots of times I'm truly surprised, even though I planned to make a painting!

Recently when I was painting en plein air at the beach ("The Loner") one of the people I talked to remarked, "How amazing that you just draw it in free-hand and then it becomes something!"

As artists, I think we get a small glimpse into the pleasure God had/has in creating.

Rhonda Hurwitz said...

this is gorgeous. thanks for the demo!

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Glad you liked that, Rhonda. Thanks for dropping by.