Week 4: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem



I was at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) again today and with each time I learn new things. Today more time was spent chatting and answering questions for curious observers that were visiting the gallery because I forgot my ipod. It was nice interacting more with the museum visitors and the security guards. Two visitors were particularly interested in why I was painting this piece, and what type of paint was on my palette, and why I was using a maul stick.

For the first question, I answered because I want to learn how to paint like this, to gain the patience it takes to complete such a complex composition and become more comfortable with handling paint in this manner {that is thin oil paint with lots of medium and a smooth canvas}. For the other two questions, I answered that I use simple oil paint supplies and the maul stick helps steady my hand.

It was interesting how a little thing like not having headphones on will totally change the experience. I may not wear headphones on a more regular basis...
Here are some progress shots:

End of Week 3
{Where I started this week}

End of Week 4: before lunch
{right before lunch}

It took me awhile to get into the grove. I ended up wiping down the carnation flower once because I got confused with the variety of petal shapes and thus the scale started to grow.
Tonight as I write this, I am realizing that the intricate detailing of this flower may be beyond my current skill level, I am hopeful that as time goes on I will figure out the handling of such subtle shading, then I will return to the flower to get it closer to what is in the original painting.

End of Week 4:
{status at end of the day}

By the end of the day I began to further refine the lower pea pods and finalize the details in the leaves. Though it is the snail that feels right, I got it pretty fast, learning to use a dry sable brush to soften the edges of the shell to give the sense of it turning into space. De Heem must have used brushes with only a few hairs each because the detail in the snail's skin has tiny, tiny little dots that give the impression of the wet bumpy skin. I used a #2 round sable brush and felt it was too big for some areas!

End of Week 4: Snail
{detail of the snail}

Now I need to think about where to focus on next week. Little by little, this painting will come together.
Thanks for visiting and being a part of this journey, Liz