Jaye Schlesinger finds an evocative subject in packaging (like in this Tiffany & Co. bag). We’re proud to announce that she is the still life judge for The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition (now accepting entries).
Here Jaye shares a free oil painting lesson, excerpted from The Artist’s Magazine, on how she created this still life. Learn her expert oil painting techniques so that you can apply them to your own unique style.
A Gem of a Bag
By Jaye Schlesinger
Art Materials for the Oil Painting
Surface: linen mounted on panel
Paints: Winsor & Newton, Gamblin and Utrecht oils
Brushes: Flats, filberts, fans, brights (sable and synthetic)
Medium: A small amount of Martin/F. Weber Turpenoid, occasionally Winsor & Newton Liquin
After I was working on this series for a while, friends began to send me their bags. That’s how I acquired this one from Tiffany & Co. The bag was in pristine condition when I received it, so I had to distress it a bit for a more interesting painting. I wanted the handle to really stand out to create a trompe l’oeil effect. Naturally, for the painting to read correctly, it was necessary to re-create that particular shade of robin’s egg blue. As is typical of my process, I started by taking a series of photos. Then I did a quick sketch to help visualize overall values and composition, sized the sketch to fit the canvas and traced the outlines of the drawing with transfer paper.
1. After transferring the outlines of the sketch to the canvas, I painted in flat areas of color. For the color of the bag, I used a mixture of radiant white, phthalo green and cerulean blue.
2. I painted in the general tonal values of the bag and started to indicate some of the details—the major folds and wrinkles, the brightest highlights on the left side of the bag and the cast shadow of the handle. I used a single upper-left-hand light source, which helped define the planes.
3. I toned down the background with a cerulean blue glaze and continued to define the details in the wrinkles of the bag. I paid particular attention to the edges and tried to suggest a slight thickness at the top edge of the bag.
4. I started to work on the handle by adding some shadow areas. I mixed a neutral gray using cadmium orange, cerulean blue and titanium white and gave the handle an overall cylindrical form, saving the texture for later. I further refined the creases in the bag by adding more dark areas using a mixture of phthalo green and ultramarine blue. This is probably the stage that I like the most, the point when I can bring most of the areas to their final level of completion. I enjoy the craft of painting and, as a representational painter, get satisfaction from creating the illusion of reality.
5. I used my photo reference, enlarged on the computer with Photoshop, to carefully observe the specific texture in the handle. Painting texture, such as this corded handle, often requires some trial and error. In this case I exaggerated the pattern of the handle first and then painted over areas to obscure some of the texture. I added some yellow ochre and Naples yellow to bring some warm tones into the handle.
6. To do the lettering, I also used my photo reference to see how the letters were affected by the wrinkles of the bag. There wasn’t a lot of distortion, as there sometimes is. I lightly penciled in the type and then used a No. 000 watercolor brush to very carefully apply the paint. I added a small amount of black to the gray mixture used in the handle.
7. Here, I cleaned up some of the areas around the letters by painting back in with the turquoise blue color. I toned down the detail of the handle, preferring to suggest the texture rather than paint it exactly.
8. Finally, I used a yellow ochre glaze on the background to unify the entire painting, for Tiffany & Co. (oil on linen, 12×12).
Visit Schlesinger’s website at www.jayeschlesinger.com. And, learn more about her oil painting techniques in the July/August 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.