Today I'm going to explain how I make the initial drawing for the painting onto my panel, using comparative measurements.
Here's a photo of the subject.
To make the measurements, I hold out a paintbrush, keeping my arm straight at the elbow. I mark the measurements with my thumb on the paintbrush.
First I measure the height of the arrangement, and then keeping my thumb in the same place on the paint brush, and my arm still held straight, I rotate the brush by 90 degrees to compare the measurement to the width of the arrangement.
I find the height of the arrangement is slightly greater than the width, so I mark a rectangle with these proportions by eye on my panel. I'm using a mixture of burnt umber and ultramarine blue thinned with medium to make the drawing. If I make any mistakes, I can easily wipe them away with some white spirit.
Next I make some comparisons of the main proportions within the still life arrangement.
The first comparison I make, of the width of the flowers to the height from the bottom of the jug, shows the width is approximately 3/4 of the height
Next, I note that the width across the bottom flower to the right hand edge of the jug, is approximately the same as the width of the top flowers.
I find the height of the jug, and compare it to its width. I find it's about twice as tall as it is wide.
I plot the points I have measured within the initial rectangle I marked out.I draw another rectangle divided vertically in half to help draw the jug. I find marking the halfway point helps me to keep the jug or vase symmetrical.
I check the angles of the sides of the jug with my paint brush.
Here I'm working out the relationship of the handle to the rest of the jug.
Now I have enough information to plot all the outermost points of the arrangement, at this point you can carry on using comparative measurements to complete your drawing, but I usually fill in the rest by eye.
Heres the finished drawing. The proportions aren't 100% accurate, but they are close enough to make the painting work.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
I am a realist painter, working in oils, painting landscape and still life.
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