Seven Steps to a Painterly Still Life | An Oil Demo With Qiang Huang

Seven Steps to a Painterly Still Life
by Qiang Huang

This demonstration is excerpted from “Practice Makes Perfect” by Robert K. Carsten. It’s in The Artist’s Magazine (April 2014) and can be purchased here. If you’d like to subscribe to 10 full issues of The Artist’s Magazine, click here.

I place the setups for my works at almost eye level. The center of focus in the arrangement for Delicate Porcelain (below; oil, 9×12) is the orange and the lighter part of the white porcelain pot. The dark bottle enhances the contrast in the central area. The entire composition has a linear reading path starting from the small cup on the left and ending at the lime on the right.

Delicate Porcelain (oil, 9x12)

Delicate Porcelain (oil, 9×12)

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Demonstration:

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1: Drawing: Using simple strokes with a brush, I indicate the size and location of each object. At this stage I don’t draw details and I ignore value and color.

 

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2. Underpainting: I determine the basic value design. I mix transparent red oxide and ultramarine blue for darks and show general shapes of the dark, light, and midtones in a transparent underpainting.

 

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3: Value and Opacity: I start to introduce opacity. I mix grays, cover the light area, and keep the dark area transparent. I’m still ignoring color and am now paying attention only to value and opacity.

 

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4. Color Temperature and Relationships: I observe the color temperature and place color patches to indicate the color distribution and the temperature variation. I pay attention only to color relationships, not to the detail of the shapes. I make sure the color values don’t deviate widely from my early value design.

 

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5: Modeling Individual Elements: After I lay out the basic color designs, I begin working on each object to make it look more solid and three-dimensional. This image shows how I modeled the dark bottle.

 

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6: Edges and Details: After modeling the porcelain pot, I manipulated the edges and put in detailed handles and design patterns. In this stage, I allow myself to temporarily ignore the integrity of the painting and just focus on individual objects.

 

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7. Consolidation and Finessing: After I get enough details and edge work on the individual objects, I start to give my attention to the entire painting, working on the relationships between objects and linking them together. At this stage I even add a sufficient number of objects to the painting to make the design more dramatic—I added the grapes, stems, and leaves to Delicate Porcelain (oil, 9×12). In this finishing step, I make parts of the painting more realistic and other parts more abstract. I also emphasize the center of focus and soften areas where I don’t want the viewer to pay as much attention.

This demonstration is excerpted from “Practice Makes Perfect” by Robert K. Carsten. It’s in The Artist’s Magazine (April 2014) and can be purchased here. If you’d like to subscribe to 10 full issues of The Artist’s Magazine, click here.


About Qiang Huang
A signature member of Oil Painters of American (OPA), Qiang Huang received the Still Life Honorable Mention Award at the 20th OPA National and the Still Life Award of Excellence at the 22nd OPA National. Huang attended the graduate school of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, studying with well-known figurative artist Zhaoming Wu. Additonally, he attended workshops taught by David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Scott Burdick, and Carolyn Anderson. His work is represented by InSight Gallery, Fredericksburg; Capital Fine Art Gallery, Austin; and Marta Stafford Fine Art Gallery, Marble Falls–all in Texas. To learn more, visit his website, www.qhart.com, and his blog, www.qiang-huang.blogspot.com.

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