Two Shallots Still Life & Making Color Sing

two shallots 2008.jpg

Two Shallots – 6" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel SOLD

Yes, sometimes my food will begin to grow before I use it. This happens most often in my kitchen with potatoes and ginger root. Needless to say I was somewhat surprised by the green coming out of my shallot. It was a happy surprise, as they created a very picturesque duo.

I am particularly pleased how everything in this painting came together ~ the process, color theory, and outcome ~ to create something that I am proud of. (I am about to dive into the geek aspects of painting and the little gifts of happiness that makes painting such a joy in my life…) To play off the vibrant red/violet of the skin, I shifted the background to be more of a cool gray/green. Cool temperature colors pervaded the setup, so to offset that and to bring in some warmth I infused warmer colors into the shadow areas. Warm color temperatures are emphasized especially in the reflected light. I really love how playing off the warm/cool color temperatures of a painting can really get some legs and become more visually stimulating.

Prior to painting with oils, I did some watercolor painting. Watercolor is beautiful however all of my pieces ended up being overworked and rather drab. Because I like to read and investigate, I initially turned to researching why this was happening. I read many books on theory, technique, and materials to get a better understanding. From this experience I came away with a pretty extensive knowledge of pigment properties, and knowing the techniques, but not being so adept at applying them when painting with watercolors. However the one thing I did come away from this period of extensive inquiry is a firm belief in the importance of understanding color theory and learning to apply it in your composition. The one book I keep on going back to read, is Jeanne Dobie’s Make Color Sing. This is a watercolor book, however I find many of the color theory principles can be applied to oil as well. I will occasionally read one of her chapters, and purposefully apply the main message to a painting or two to see if I understand it, if not I will go back re-read that chapter and try again. Chapter 30 “A Personalized Light – Changing the Light Pattern” in one chapter I go back to all the time and will sometimes find ways to work out examples of it in my mind. The message still eludes me, but like any quest I will continue on. One day I will go through the entire book and try out each of the principles, and record the effects. That is one of many goals I have, I guess when time is more plentiful, maybe it will occur then...

I am very interested in learning what books do you really enjoy and find helpful? Please leave a comment so I may learn more about them. Thanks, Liz