Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Christmas 2008" -- oil on masonite panel -- 12x16" -- Margie Guyot

This morning I bundled up, hitched on my snowshoes and took a long hike back into the swamp. It was about 10 degrees, with blowing snow. I'd been to a big party last night and was trying to burn off some of those yummy dips and cookies! Spied a cute little evergreen and considered cutting it for my Christmas tree. But I decided to leave it be. I'd rather be painting in my studio!

Don't ask me what kind of skull that is. A young deer? Don't blame me -- I nabbed it at a garage sale, along with everything else in this setup. The hardest thing about doing this painting was the tapestry. I slugged away on it for days. Scraped it all down a couple days ago. It's one of those things I could slave away on for years and years, but I think I finally got it down to give "the illusion of tapestry".

I love painting shiny, reflective things, so that was probably the most fun thing: painting the Christmas ornaments. But doggone! Getting a perfect circle is tough! I ended up scavenging through the studio to find various sizes of jar lids to trace, to get the round shapes.

It's been cloudy here for probably 2 months (and will probably continue being cloudy until April). It snows up in this part of Michigan practically every day. I used natural light when painting this, so there were no really strong, sharp shadows. We did have one day of sun, however, last Saturday. That gave me my one crack at seeing some bit of shadow shapes. I probably should use my studio lights for the next still life.

How to get the skull and antlers to stand out from the tapestry? It was another problem to work out. When I'd squint and look at the setup, there wasn't really a great deal of value difference between the tapestry and the skull. I had to make the skull look like it was sitting on top of the tapestry -- and not sunk into it. The wild pattern and colors of the tapestry naturally would tend to make the viewer focus on that. Scraping down the surface of the tapestry helped, I think. And I laid on the paint for the skull pretty thickly. Being the largest, solid shape also helped.

Ah, I SO look forward to starting on my next still life! It will be using pumpkins. Gotta paint them before they rot!

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