Strada Easel Challenge Day1-3

Do you paint daily? Well, the announcement of the Strada Easel Challenge to paint from life for the month of September has spurred me to paint daily for the next 27 days (we are already three days in).  Although I like the idea of blogging every day, I don’t think that will happen too!

My goal for the month is to focus on color in light and shadow.  For some reason, this seems relatively simple outdoors.  When painting en plein air, I can easily see the shadow in leaves or in the forest.  The form and cast shadow of rocks are fairly easy to see too.  But painting those colors when there are so many colors in the object is a challenge.

Most of the month, I will work from still life, simple objects on a simple surface.  And, if the weather cools off a bit, I’ll head outside to paint too.  I’m also off to Steamboat, CO for a plein air festival later this month, so I’ll have a full week of outdoor painting to look forward to.

Day 1 “An Apple a Day”, 5×7, oil on panel.
"An Apple a Day", 5x7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper
“An Apple a Day”, 5×7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper

A painting a day.  An apple a day. (Haha)  It’s tempting to paint 30 apples of different varieties, but I need to keep this simple, so I started with what I had on hand, an akame apple from the farmer’s market.

My goal was to paint the apple, using white only in the highlight.  I still have work to do creating plane changes, but I was very happy with the red color and using cool and warm colors.

Day 2 “Cocozelle Zucchini”, 5×7, oil on panel.
"Cocozelle Zucchini", 5x7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper
“Cocozelle Zucchini”, 5×7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper

AKA – A study in Green Stripes

This little striped gourd came from the garden.  Freshly picked, I kept the little tendrils on just for fun.  Here the goal was to not only get the color in light and shadow but to also create a sense of foreshortening by having the bottom of the zucchini closer to the viewer.

I still need to work on turning the under planes.  Those areas are bit tricky.

Day 3  “Mini Pumpkin”, 5×7 oil on panel.
"Mini Pumpkin", 5x7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper
“Mini Pumpkin”, 5×7, oil on panel, © Nelia Harper

AKA a study in orange.

It’s almost that time of year.  Although temperatures soared to a 100 degrees today, cooler weather and the end of summer are near.  A trip to the farmer’s market today resulted in a feast of gourds!  I picked up four lumpy, bumpy gourds and two mini pumpkins.  I was a little tired from the heat and an early morning hike, so I stuck to just one mini pumpkin for an exercise in orange.

Again, getting the pumpkin to ‘turn under’ at the base was a bit of a challenge.  I also wanted to limit the use of white on the pumpkin, using Naples Yellow Light and Cad Yellow to lighten the orange color.  I felt that the shadow got a little ‘dirty’.  So, I’m going to try this again using Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber and create a larger gradient of warm and cool hues of orange.

Having used the same background for all three has been really fun.  I have found each one a little easier and more enjoyable.  Testing out various brush strokes, using the knife, incorporating texture, and using both opaque and transparent paint has been a real pleasure.  I ‘see’ a little more each time and although the paintings are quick and finished in one sitting, I’m enjoying the process.

I hope you enjoy the paintings too.

What do you think?

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