A Finished Unfinished Oil Painting

I started the beginning-level oil painting sessions the last week of May. I chose three objects for my set-up: an apple, a bowl, and a pitcher. First I sketched the objects with charcoal (on canvas), next I massed them in with Raw Umber oil paint, and finally I began painting, using only two colors: Raw Umber and White.

Here it is near the end of September and I’m still working on this same painting.

A photo of the still life objects that I chose to paint: a red apple, a yellow bowl and a white ceramic pitcher with handle

Still life

As an art student with no art experience or skill, I have trouble seeing some of the details. What I saw was a red apple, a white pitcher and a yellow bowl. What my instructor saw was an dark apple that projected a two-tone (at least) shadow, a bowl with a lip and a small pedestal, and a pitcher with a handle that changed width due to its angle. All these objects had highlights and tones (up and down, side-to-side) that indicated they had contours.

Really? Oh.

Step 1 in the beginning painting process: sketch the objects with charcoal on a canvas

Step 1: Charcoal sketch

That bowl and apple gave me fits. My version of the apple turned into a dark glob; same tone as its shadow. Sigh.

Objects massed in with raw umber as the base color oil paint

Step 2: Raw umber as the base color

The bowl changed shapes so many times, I lost count. I elongated its width too much and one side was drooping way lower than the other. It was too close to the apple, then I moved it too far away from the apple. Sigh.

A photo of the in-progress oil painting.  The objects are recognizable but do not reflect the actual shading

Step 3: Progress, mostly

The only reason the apple is recognizable now is because my instructor sat down last week and spent about 30 minutes correcting all three objects, explaining each stroke she painted. Deep sigh.

Photograph of the painting that I'm calling finished even if it's not

Step 4: Declaring it finished

And that handle on the pitcher? My next painting won’t have one of those, I can tell you that.

I’m declaring this painting finished and moving on. At this rate, I might have another one “finished” by Valentine’s Day. I’m just not saying which year.

2 thoughts on “A Finished Unfinished Oil Painting

  1. Your drawing may have taken some time but in the end it was fairly accurate. The painting was going pretty well. It is tricky once you start putting on paint to put the first layer on lightly enough so you can still see your drawing. It is a lot of trial and error (practice) to get the right consistency of oil paint, how much paint to put on the brush (the brush will absorb some of the paint) and you must have proper ventilation and glove use is recommended. Acrylics can look like oil and are less toxic – me, I love oils! I watched a lot of YouTube videos about how to use color for shading and I practiced with color pencils and markers. It does take a lot of practice but I can’t think of anything that doesn’t!🤗

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