Monday, March 25, 2013

Conquering Cabbage

I'm not so good at painting florals - all those petals! But I'm thinking maybe cabbages are the "gateway organic" to floral painting. Overlapping leaves are just really big petals, right?

Essentially, here's how I tackled this painting. First, squinted to break it down into basic, flat shapes including the major shapes of cabbage leaf forms.

Next, mapped out the darkest darks. Sticking with only the cabbage at first since the ruffle of surrounding leaves was bound to wilt fairly quickly. (Fortunately my studio is about the same temperature as a refrigerator so it held up overnight.)

I was struggling in the second image above - the "ugly duckling" stage of the painting when it's doubtful that it will become anything worth keeping. It can take discipline and crossed fingers to keep going. No stopping for photos.

Painting the mandolin (an antique coleslaw slicer) balanced the composition and provided a contrast for all that green. And speaking of green - the base color starts fairly neutral, unsaturated and subdued. Then the more complex greens, yellows and blues were added because nature is just not that boring! A lesson learned in Karen O'Neil's class at the Art Student's League.

Leaves started as flat planes of color and began to gain depth and direction when the veins were added. Where they go deeper into shadow veins need to be are duller and darker. I was reminded of Leah Lopez's lesson at New York Academy of Art about painting a form in shadow then painting the pattern on top, also in shadow. That helped a lot.

Cabbage leaves vary between the veins too - the leafy part is thinner. More shadow shapes helped define that area. Todd Casey does an amazing job of explaining light and shadow and how it describes the way a form turns, or "rolling the form," in relationship to the light source. He teaches about the geometry of light on a object and it makes sense!

I suppose some might think it's kind of tedious to shade and highlight nearly every segment between each vine-y vein of every blessed cabbage leaf!!! And they might be right, but I like the degree of realism it brings.

Knots in the wood and tarnish on the blade finished the slicer. And finally another squint to check the lightest lights - which had gotten a little dull while working on the shadow forms. So I brightened the light area... and it was done!

With gratitude to Karen, Leah and Todd.

Cutting Cabbage ©2013 Dorothy Lorenze
PS: I'm still not ready for florals.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you!