Art Tip File: Painting From Back to Front

Paint From Back to Front: An Art Tip for Still Life Paintings
From the January/February 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine (Luminous Illusion: Ted Polomis shares his toys—staging visual puns and painterly pleasures, rendered with a translucent glaze on opaque color.).

Art Tip File Painting From Back to Front Ted Polomis artist still life

A Touch of Orange (oil, 21×32) by Ted Polomis

Rather than build all areas of a painting at once, Polomis looks at his painting technique as “a little puzzle,” for which he fits the pieces in order, back to front. He explains the sequence for A Touch of Orange.

“I hung a blue sheet behind this arrangement,” says Polomis, “but I painted it a little ‘foggier’ than life—a little light in the middle and dark on the edges.” He wanted to contrast the hard edges of the arrangement with the ethereal quality of the background: “So first I painted a blue gradation with the shadow, although I hadn’t painted the objects making the shadow yet.”

Next, Polomis painted the drapery on the table and then the big white vase. “It was just a white vase at this point,” says Polomis, “no design yet. The blue pattern on the vase came later. At that point I glazed with two different gradations of blue generated with titanium white, raw sienna, raw umber, French ultramarine, cerulean blue and a bit of ivory black.”

Next, he painted the orange up to the outline of the inkwell (with the help of faint pencil lines), “because,” as he explains, “the orange is behind the blue inkwell.” He painted the blue vase to the right in the same sitting as he did the orange. Finally, he painted the inkwell and the teacup.

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