Apple by Meg Lyman
6×6″ oil on board
Varnished on top; unvarnished on bottom
I’ve always simply imagined lighting for my cephalopod paintings – since I don’t have an actual octopus to paint and I’m idealizing them anyway, it seemed the best course. I have a good general idea of light and shade principles from life drawing – good enough to get away with anyway. But when I got it into my head to paint an apple octopus (like you do), I figured I should give the still life test a try.
Painting the apple still life was hard enough, but then incorporating imaginary bumps and nooks made this extra challenging. The apple part looks serviceable, but without an actual applepus to paint, it’s hard to get the lighting down. Maybe next time I will sculpt eye nubs out of play-doh or spitballs or whatever and stick them on the apple. Either way, I am reasonably happy with the result and I learned a lot from it. That means the painting was successful, right? Right.
I also did some interesting color mixing for this one. I made up “color strings” – a James Gurney term meaning different values of the colors I planned to use. I need to work on the whole “changing value without changing chroma and hue” thing, but that’s another post.
My tube colors for this were, left to right, Quinacridone Red (M. Graham), Golden Barok Red (Old Holland), Cad Yellow Golden (Michael Harding), and Nickel Yellow (Williamsburg). I used white and black to mix the bottom 3 piles of varying values of grey (OK OK, bluish grey), then used those plus titanium white to darken or lighten the tube colors. The hue shift with Cad Yellow and black is very green, and fun to play with. The Quin Red strayed into blue territory and I didn’t use much of its mixes. I have so much to learn! I feel like I’m at a stage in my learning where I’m going way faster than I realized. That is good but kinda overwhelming.
Aside: the board I started with was some amalgam of leftover colors that I slathered on with a palette knife months ago. I have no idea what they were, but I chose my apple colors so they’d work well with it. Gives a nice texture, too, no?
A final note: see how sunken in oils can get when they dry to the touch? Especially the darks. Varnishing makes them look all rich and shiny again. Magic!