Painting on a painted surface

What are the most appropriate ways to show the different tones in a painting? 
One of the challenges was starting with a thin wash of paint because it feels like it’s setting one of the tones still relatively light because the paper is white. Furthermore I felt I needed to continue with thin washes of paint which shows all brushwork both good and bad.
I thought the plates high contrast tonal variation would be most striking to paint. I started with side on view with a light watercolour ground for a black ink painting and second an darker orange ink ground for a coloured acrylic painting. Both cases didn’t work well, maybe because I was including too many plates and loosing control of the paint. They feel messy, no real focus, the sharp contrasts seem to have been lost. Another issue was the paper curled and made the painting difficult because it hadn’t been stretched. Possible ways to improve, focus on the top 3 bowls showing interesting marks, make the plates tones sharper, apply more paint to the ground for darker areas.

Next painting is gouache on a dark orange ink ground on stretched paper. This time I had a bit more fun and used pva to outline the plates then drip blue ink in between the plates. The composition was chosen to spiral the eye in from the large plates.   Overall this simpler composition and tonal choices provided structure and form.  

For the clothes I decided to Paint the background a darker blue acrylic mixed with pva to make the brushwork more visible.    The thin acrylic brush work on the pva ground worked well for the hat because the blue ground was visible through the stroke with enough contrast.  The dress appears light which is good but the contrast with the ripples is a bit weak.   I felt I needed to darken the background after painting the dress in order to make the dress seem brighter.   The idea of painting another collection on top appealed here so I thought the collection of toy animals painted with a dry brush would continue a similar style.  There’s a lot happening here and perhaps focussing on the top left hat is the most stricking.

Next I looked at utensils and some interesting shadows using ink and watercolour.  I found ink less forgiving on the lighter tones than watercolour.  The shadow was intended to be blurred using wet in wet but with less paint it was not as dark as I’d liked and applying another layer highlighted mistakes.  This meant the not so dark shadow set the tonal range from the background.   Despite the low tonal range the compositions helped where the shadows drew the eye into the utensil.   The addition of the serving spoon gave its’ painting a surprise boost with a better tonal range and focus.  The use of salt didn’t work out for creating featured highlights on the spoon surface.



Author: Paul Hunter

An artist rediscovering art using life in Hong Kong. Since the birth of my son, I've taken an opportunity to use the time I'm not looking after him on exploring my artistic skills. I'll be using the hunter blog to record my journey.

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