Sunday, August 9, 2015

Still Life Paintings

One reason I love living in Tucson is that the Gem and Mineral Show comes to town every February. Amazing rock specimens from all over the world all come almost to my doorstep. I have collected a lot of interesting crystals, minerals and objects de arte over the years. Below are a few recent still life paintings with some of my quartz crystals and Zuni fetishes.

Three Amigos
Acrylic on panel, 8x10

Geode slice and Fetish
Acrylic on panel, 5x7

Jet Black Bear Fetish
Acrylic on panel, 5x7

Malachite Fetish 
Acrylic on panel 5x7

Something that has always bothered me about acrylic paint is that it is a bit translucent. Its hard to get really opaque brush strokes without getting into heavy imposto. I love painting with gauche and casein because the paint can be very opaque. This is really helpful for doing fast sketches and on-location plein-aire painting. With acrylic its hard to get the same opacity. Recently I had one of those "duh" moments and realized that I should quit fighting the translucency of acrylics and embrace it. So I started using glazing medium and soft water washes to build up layers of paint. This technique gives me complete control of luminosity, color and value in my painting. It is definitely not a spontaneous type of painting, but for for me is more like a zen meditation, allowing me to merge into the painting and fine tune it. I've found that I like casein and oils for a more spontaneous approach. You can see that style in my on-location Tumamoc sketches done in casein, and the cactus flowers done in oils.