Painting Intensive: Part 2

After Lunch we will be continuing with the second part of today’s lesson.

1:00 – 5:00

This part’s featured artist is:

Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967)

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Edward Hopper was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching.

Still Life Value Studies

This section will now move towards creating multiple sketches and a finished watercolor painting of a still life which will be set up in front of you.

The history of still lives goes back thousands of years and was a stark contrast to the religious imagery which commonly dominated painting. The benefits of still lives were many. For one, the subjects didn’t move so they could be carefully studied. By having small objects which could be easily moved around also gave the artist the ability to play around with composition. So as we proceed through this lesson we will first be looking at how composition plays a role in the creation of painting.

The most important thing to remember is that when we are painting we are painting within a certain shape (generally a rectangle) which has limits and boundaries. Somewhere usually in our teenage years it becomes common to ignore the edges of a painting and still lives take up the center of the page/canvas, since we generally believe that since this is the subject, it should therefore be placed in the center. However, as we look over the rules of composition we can see that there are a multitude of ways to draw attention to certain areas of a composition. We can take a look at this PDF for a quick guide to how we can think about composition.


Glass bowl of fruit and vases. Romanwall painting in Pompeii (around 70 AD)

Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625),Bouquet (1599), Kunsthistorisches MuseumVienna. Some of the earliest examples of still life were paintings of flowers by Northern Renaissance, Dutch, and Flemish painters.

First we will start off with pencil and paper and begin working on what are called reductive drawings. It is best to use a softer ( 2b) pencil for this task. The same exercise can be done with toned (grey) paper and both white and black charcoal pencils, however the goal remains the same, and that is to create a study/sketch of how are values are working on our objects in preparation for the next stage which will be to paint these values utilizing the same values we used in the last assignment.

A value sketch can be something as simple as what you see below. There’s no need for too much detail, here we are focusing on compositional elements, value, and form. An example of what a quick sketch of a still life subject should look like can be seen below in the drawing of the shoe.

Watercolor painting of a shoe