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Gouache Workshop: Part II

Today was the second day of my gouache class at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Because the weather wasn't as sunny and warm today we continued painting from still life set ups instead of going outdoors. I was kind of bummed, but at least I got to finish off the second still life from yesterday. As you can see from the first two pictures, I had started off with just simple color blocking and then gradually built up the layers until I got to the final product in the second picture. I really felt good about my grasp on the technique until... the instructor rolled out the second still life set up we would be working from.

Holy moly... There were three different still life groupings to choose from and I went with the one seen above. Each grouping had a variety of different objects in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors. Although I tried to focus on following the technique of color blocking I found this new set of objects a real challenge. The plain glass bottles and the plumb were the easiest for me as I had previous experience painting those types of objects before. The tricky part came with the blue vase and the pitcher with the flower. Not only were those objects particularly complicated in shape, but I found that the shadow on the white pitcher was hard to work on because of the gray tone of background of the paper. The paper was covered in a layer of a medium called flashe, a vinyl based paint that has a velvety, matte finish. I chose to work with the toned paper rather than a white piece of paper simply because I liked the way the colors popped against a darker background in the second still life painting. However, in this instance it made it difficult for me to get the right shading on the pitcher in comparison to the dark shadows of the background and the dark values in the plumb and black bottle.

And of course, because I didn't have a lot of time in the afternoon to work on this last piece I had to leave with it unfinished. Perhaps if I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew for the time frame I had I may have gotten farther with a simpler composition. I could have focused solely on one or two elements of the still life, but I like what I have anyway. Perhaps if I feel like tackling the rest of it again I will pull out the picture I took of the still life and work from that to see if I can't bring the middle portion of the painting to life.

All in all I really enjoyed myself and will now add gouache to the list of mediums I will potentially use in my future pieces - although, perhaps after a bit more practice!

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