By Noah Layne
I started this painting by doing a quick drawing of the outlines of the lemons and box. I drew the box with a 2h pencil. I used a ruler to measure 3 inches in in from the edges so I would be sure to have the same size box all around the painting. I then used the ruler to draw straight lines and find the vanishing point of the places the box joins at the edges.
After drawing the box I found the placement of the lemons by looking at my setup and comparing the size and shapes of the lemons. I checked the horizontal lines to compare the top or bottom of different lemons with other lemons, tying all the relationships of the lemons together.
As I say in the classes I teach “It’s like a puzzle. The more parts we get in the right place, the easier it is to put the other parts in their right places.”
I used a stick of charcoal to draw in the big shapes of the lemons. I deliberately left the drawing of the lemons a little loose and unfinished so that I could make changes as I started to paint. I like to work on a drawing that is not too tight so I can feel excitement as I start to paint and not feel like I’m just filling in the drawing.
Start of the first coat: Here I’m using a limited palette of earth colors. By using a limited palette I can focus on getting the big flow of light and value and not worry too much about color.
I use mineral spirits to thin the paint a little in the first coat. I started by blocking in the lemons. At this stage it can be hard to judge the value of the paint compared to the white of the linen. As I go over the all of the linen with paint, it becomes easier to see the values. Reminds me of those optical illusions where the value of a square is only relevant as compared to the value of the squares around them.
Here is how the painting looks when I’m finished with the first coat of paint. I try to keep this coat loose and exciting so that I feel like coming back and painting more! If you squint your eyes down the value relationships are starting to work.
Start of second coat: Here I start using a full palette of colors. I go over the whole painting bringing the color closer to what I’m seeing. I deliberately do not try to finish or model anything in the second coat. I find if I do finish things too much in the second coat it makes it harder to want to come back and paint over the finished parts. I like the look of having a least 3 coats of paint. So the second coat is just to bring the color closer to the real thing I’m painting and build the paint up. I paint very thinly so it helps to have at least 3 layers of paint. I use linseed oil as my medium for the second coat. I started working from the left to right and from dark to light. Slowly going over the linen.
Start of the third coat: I used a full palette of colors again. This time I used a medium of linseed oil and stand oil mixed on my pallet. It’s an oil rich medium but the Artfix linen I use is very thirsty so it works well. The stand oil adds a buttery quality to the paint and helps level the brush strokes. I start by working from dark to light so I start on the lemon in the back left. I paint over it trying to finish it as I go. Then, I move down to the left bottom lemon and, starting from the shadow side blocking in the big light and dark. Much like in the second coat but this time I start to model and finish the lemon by painting all the little changes as the light flows across it’s form. I do this by painting both the shadow and light side of the lemon with their local color and then working in to the wet paint to adjust and model things.
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