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Painting Techniques: Two.

You can access some books about painting techniques here

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When you first begin your still life painting, it is best not to spend a small fortune on supports..(by which I mean canvas etc). Hardboard (masonite) is fine, primed with household 'vinyl silk' white emulsion. When you are sure of yourself you can paint on the best quality linen canvas if you really must, but for a beginner with no hope of selling his work ,the price of it is astronomical. You would be better advised to take it that your first few steps into still life painting will be very tentative and unfortunately not likely to make you rich.

When your painting techniques improve, it may be time to consider the permanence of your materials.

I am going to take it for granted that you wish to paint a reasonable likeness of what you have before your eyes. When you can paint more or less accurately exactly what you CAN see, you will be better equipped to branch out into the world of the imagination, should you so wish, to paint what you CAN'T see. (This was originally my own intention, incidentally. But I never did learn to paint exactly what I could see. I'm still learning.

If you cannot draw accurately at this stage, you should put away your paints and go practice. The qualities in a worthwhile drawing, for these purposes,are that it should accurately 'map out' the broad regions of your still life. It should NOT be a filigree of finely chiseled detail.
The still life to the right is an example.

still life:peonies
If the subject of your still life painting doesn't appear to HAVE any 'broad regions', perhaps you should find a subject that does! (I should explain...... I am speaking of broad masses of light,midtone,or shade. A subject with a simple design of say a light mass against a dark background is much easier to paint than something more sophisticated. It is the broad and simple design that will 'carry' your still life.) A bunch of white flowers (roses,dahlias,camelias..anything that has mass and isn't too full of intricate detail)set against a dark or low middle tone is far easier, to begin with.
In the diagram to the right, the lights are outlined in red, the middle tones in green, the darks in blue.
This conception of the painting as a mass of coloured tones is the heart of the matter. Get these right, (right tone right colour, right shape) and you're well on your way to a halfway convincing stab at painting reality.

You will have to arrange your 'white mass' so that it seems to balance well, in the context of the (at the moment imagined) picture frame. The 'arrangement of masses', otherwise known as 'composition' is a vast and unfathomable subject I won't say much about here.

still life:peony diagram

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