View Full Version : Five Color Exercise for a rainy Saturday

04-05-2008, 02:47 PM


Title: Five Color Exercise for a rainy Saturday
Year Created: 2008
Medium: Oil
Surface: Board
Dimension: 4X4
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

I got this exercise from Linda Cateura's book-
David Leffel - Oil Painting Secrets of a Master
Just a few colors, almost identical layout.

The idea is to show the transparency of the grape vs the solidity of the cherry by shifiting colors and values.

The idea is Leffel's but the rendering (sigh) is not quite the same as his!

Did it work?

04-05-2008, 06:23 PM
Interesting theory – was reading myself that the old masters painted with the complementary colors first, and then added the true colors last to create depth. Those tricky guys.
What I actually like here especially is your brushwork. Wow! The cherry works well. As for the grape – this is hard to describe, but to get the translucency; van Huysum seemed to strike the highlight on the paling colors. I’ve included a picture. See how the ‘color’ itself seems to be more in the ‘back’ – if that makes sense. Oh for Saturday time to practice <sigh> - happy painting :wave:

04-06-2008, 02:10 AM
Hi Bill. I'll give you an A for effort. I have come back and studied this cherry and grape and have decided it was a good thing to do on a rainy day. Actually we finally got up here in the mts for a weekend and I tried to paint, but it didn't turn out either. At lease you got rain, we got snow. Keep having fun......Lenore

04-06-2008, 09:02 AM
Lunchbox: good insights on transparency, thanks.
I think you may have caught the great Leffel in a lapse.
After your post, I seem to recall from another book that the highlight on the grape should be exactly opposite the brightest transmitted light point?

I'll bet Corby knows the answer to that.


If those are the Rockies, I'm jealous.
I did some work during the 90's in the Sangre De Cristo section near Alamoosa, Co and I'd love to be able to get back there again.

The rain stopped and the weather turned out to be perfect for golf, but I got these done first.

My wife snared these two 4X4's and wants to frame them for the kitchen, so it turned out to be more than just an exercise, but these are worthwhile anyway.

I'm working with an instructor, Larry Chestnut, who has me working on brush technique and I had that in mind with these also.

One of the nice features about painting on board is that you can keep the scraps and with a table saw you can do just about anything you want with them.

John Jaster
04-06-2008, 09:06 AM
I think the colors and the fruit are great and your experiment is a success. I'm wondering though if the images are really that blurred or if it's instead the digital camera struggled to lock on.

04-06-2008, 09:16 AM

Thanks, they were fun to do.

Here's a picture that's more in human scale. They are a bit sharper than what you see here.

04-06-2008, 03:43 PM
Hi Bill! These are so beautifully classic and such sumptuous use of so simple a subject! I saw them in the book on Leffel and it never entered my head that they would be fun and worthwhile to paint. Obviously a major lapse on my part! I see why your wife commandeered theme! What you say about the tranferrence of light is the whole rule in a nutshell!...er, grapeshell?... My knowledge of light is not deep, it is just basic, but I am always mesmerised by its law and how we can show it in a painting. Sorry about this, I have said it before, but for my own p[leasure, here it is again. In the over all scheme of a painting it is good to decide where the light will be coming from. View that side of the canvas as "The Dark Side". One may or may not paint the beginning of the painting starting there with dark values and hues. But we have established a rule, a law, that in my view must be followed. The light will flow out of that side and touch the first object. Creating a bright hue and light value and a beginning hard edge. It will flow across the object, gradually going into shadow, in the process, creating a soft edge. This sets up a rhythm in the painting not only for light: dark/ light/dark/light/dark/light. It creates a rhythm for edges as well, especially for non angular forms: hard/soft/hard/soft/hard/soft. As always rules can be bent or broken. But to know them is to paint with intelligence and control. The GRAPE What you say is true. The light hits the outer membrane, the skin and at its highest point it creates a highlight. The membrane or skin, even though it transmits the light will still cast a shadow. Thats where the interior of the fruit is darkest, next to the wall that makes its own shadow. Some light passes through completely and falls on the interior surface of the wall or membrane on the other side. here the interior of the fruit glows with trapped light. Then of course the grape, the object as a whole will cast a shadow on the item or surface next. This will usually have a small aura of light at its heartthat escapes from the grapes interior. This situation with the grape is the secret to painting crystal, dewdrops, any glass...all of it regardless of shape follows that same law or rule. OOOOooooooooooooOOOO that feels good! I got it off my chest again! By the way with this rule in effect you could paint any object you wish as being glass...from your imagination! The rule frees up ones creativity!

04-06-2008, 04:02 PM
I LOVE the grape!!.....not sure about the cherry. The darkest part on the cherry is really black...wont there be any color in that area at all?

04-06-2008, 05:36 PM
Wow, that was what I had hoped for and you didn't let me down. Thanks for reminding me of what I should know by now. I'll copy that out so that I'll have it next time.

That book is full of little nuggets, and this is one I've been meaning to try.


wont there be any color in that area at all

Yes, there is color there as a rule.
Normally, I'd have used some sap green with alirizin crimson there. In this case tho, I was focusing more on values so I limited my pallette. This is a rare use of lamp black for me. Both objects started with an ellipse of solid cad red and lamp black and evolved from there.

05-07-2008, 04:37 PM
OK, so I submitted 5 paintings to a juried show in Trenton. I submittted 3 "serious" paintings that I think are as good as I could do, and simply to fill the remaining two slots at no additional charge, I included these, each as a separate entry.

The brilliantly original titles are "Grape" and "Cherry."

The juror is a curator at the NJ State Museum.

Would you believe that these two were the only ones accepted?

Barbie Bud
05-07-2008, 06:36 PM
Hi Bill, very nice , by the way I love your work every time I see something posted I LIKE IT! Barb

05-07-2008, 07:36 PM
Bill, if you really want a challenge, try painting a white broken egg next to it's broken shell. Really difficult, but highly educational. I learned so much painting that. Your grapes are sumptuos!!!!