A Still Life Painting for The Perfect Facebook Challenge

Take Three: A trio of friends who’ve never met in person hold a still life painting challenge across the miles.

A few months ago, I was chatting via Facebook with my friend and fellow painter Anne Hightower-Patterson White. Although we’ve never met in person, we’ve developed a great connection through social media.

We determined that we were both ready for a new creative endeavor and devised a virtual still life painting challenge. She brought our friend Susan M. Stuller on board, and we were off and running.

Simple Guidelines

We’d each select and share three favorite pieces from our glass collections, and then we’d each paint a still life painting based on some of those pieces. We shipped the glass items back and forth until we all had photographed a still life setup using at least five pieces from the collections.

The agreement was not to tell one another which pieces we had chosen—or to share our works in progress. There was a lot of excitement to see how our different painting styles would translate into compositions featuring the same subjects. Here’s a look at our experiment—as well as some tips for painting glass objects.

Try It Yourself

I encourage other artists who are friends on Facebook or other communication outlets such as Instagram or email to try a similar project. It’s always interesting and educational to see how someone else interprets the same subject through their own eyes and creative style. This even can be done internationally, by emailing the same reference photo or idea to friends around the globe and having each create a painting in his or her individual style. -Laurie Goldstein-Warren

Doing the Prep Work | Anne Hightower-Patterson White

STEP 1: I began the process by doing two 5″ x 7″ value studies (below) to work out the composition and plan the pattern of lights and darks.

TakeThree_Anne1a                     Step 1

TakeThree_Anne1b                     STEP 1

STEP 2: I then did a complete 9″ x 12″ color study in which I tried out some darker shadows that I decided to leave out of the final painting. I focused on triangulating the colors to provide a visual map through the painting. For this, I altered a few of the reds and blues from my photos to improve the color harmony.

TakeThree_Anne2                      Step 2

STEP 3: I completed a detailed line drawing of the composition (3a) and then masked the areas where I wanted to preserve the white of the paper (3b).

TakeThree_Anne3a                     Step 3a

TakeThree_Anne3b                     Step 3b

STEP 4: I created the initial washes to begin to define the light values and establish the local color.

TakeThree_Anne4                     Step 4

STEP 5: I removed small amounts of masking and began establishing the middle and darker values, as seen in the upper left.

TakeThree_Anne5

FINAL STEP: Once I had the values in correct relationship, I did what I call “a finishing step.” I go through and tighten up shapes that seem ragged. If I’ve lost a highlight, I either scrub it out with a fabric dye brush or use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to lift color, especially staining color. I think the traditional scrubbers are a little rough on 140-lb. paper; however, the fabric dye brushes by Loew Cornell are just right.

If there’s a small point to highlight, I’ll use my go-to opaque white—Shiva white casein. In the final assessment of While the Fish Danced (watercolor on paper, 21½” x 28″), I determined that the lower corners needed less emphasis, so I used a neutral gray mixture and lightly floated it across the bottom from corner to corner, which helps to lift the eye to the focal point.

TakeThree_Finish-Anne         Final Step

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