View Full Version : Background thoughts

CM Neidhofer
08-08-2010, 07:22 AM
I want to paint this ref and I'm wondering how to approach the background. Paint it on black paper and just let the paper be the background? Tone the paper with a contrasting, dark green, maybe, to bring out the cherries? Or tone it with that wonderful Ludwig dark that we all love? Suggestions greatly appreciated!

08-08-2010, 08:33 AM
Well I know that I wouldn't do it on black paper because, however careful I am, I get smudges. Then I have to coat the paper with pastel amyway!
I like the idea of a very dark green but I think it would be equally as effective with a dark egg plant colour (is that the Ludwig you mean? I can't get them but I do have an Art Spectrum which is that lovely deep, almost but not quite, black).

08-08-2010, 12:22 PM
Hi Christine,
I just did a workshop with Dianna Ponting. On the last day we were painting our own images and one of mine was similar to this. I asked her about black paper and she suggested a light-med tone instead, saying it's sometimes difficult to get brights or lights to cover black paper (unless you work with many layers and fairly thickly). That hadn't occurred to me before but it makes sense!

I would take advantage of the light source on the fruit and do a background very very dark (if not starting from black) with a rich color where the light would be hitting. Maybe the hint of a surface or reflection on a dark surface.

I love love love still life, this is a great reference! Have fun!

08-08-2010, 02:06 PM
besides the dark, I'd give it something to sit on, unless you want a surreal floating basket of cherries.

08-08-2010, 02:42 PM
You could always use both the deep dark green and the deep dark eggplant together. That can look gorgeous and you can vary the hues, turn it into something like counterwoven fabric. If you set up a piece of fabric drapery and put something similar in shape to the basket of cherries on it, then put your lamp at the same angle, you'd see where the highlights fall on the fabric folds and have very real folds to put behind the cherries. I think that would look lively and powerful - and it's the easy choice, both!

08-08-2010, 03:43 PM
Cherry basket floating in the middle of a black void - hmmm. Love the basket of cheeries, not so fond of the composition and solid black background, but it is your painting and your choices to make. As Dianna Ponting suggested to Chaus, it can be difficult to cover with lighter pastels, and the basket is in the "lighter" catagory. I agree with Chaus' suggestion, "I would take advantage of the light source on the fruit and do a background very very dark (if not starting from black) with a rich color where the light would be hitting. Maybe the hint of a surface or reflection on a dark surface."


CM Neidhofer
08-08-2010, 05:41 PM
I forgot to mention, I have already cropped the reference. The bg is only that top third or so. I'm kind of liking the TL dark with a dark green suggestion. Robert, your draping suggestion also sounds interesting. Sounds great so far, any other ideas? Thanks, everyone!

Deborah Secor
08-09-2010, 11:46 AM
I'd play around in Photoshop to see how the various b/g colors might look before deciding. That always gives me some ideas, even though the results look different when painted.

I agree that the mysterious non-surface creating a totally floating basket is odd looking. Without any shadow on the tabletop it creates a sense of cartoon flatness to my eye. Photographers are odd animals and I suspect someone worked hard to make a photo without any cast shadows. From the angle of the light overhead I'd guess that the cast shadows wouldn't show much anyway, so that will likely be a non-issue and free you to add a horizon line of some sort as Robert suggested.

08-09-2010, 01:36 PM
Hey, y'all! Them's Cherries In Space!! :D

I would go with the dark green background because (1) green is the complement of the bright red cherries, and (2) it's a cool (receding) color, while the cherries advance, and (3) I like dark green!


08-09-2010, 04:07 PM
well maybe a dumb question, but are you talking about straight paper or sanded, prepped paper?

i've worked on Canson and Strathmore black and first thing i saw was my pastel sticks/colours looked very different/unfamiliar

i worked on the paper horizontally so if there was any spill/crumbs, i could lift it off easily

definitely an education - suggest a simple assemblage to start

black is certainly a shortcut once you get the sense of it

:} Ed