Iterations in the life of a piece of art

The brief is to produce a still life or interior of at least A3 size and demonstrating a number of capability criteria. I won’t go into those because, here at least, they’re not very interesting. More so might be the process, from spotting the target to getting to grips with the piece itself. It starts with a photo. I’ve had this fire screen for years but, unlike a lot of familiar household items, I still see it because it shines and burnishes itself in almost any light.


There were sketches to get a feel for composition – did I want the whole fireplace, the frog, the companion set, the metal bird? And if so, how? What arrangement?


I settled on the screen being the focus. It’s big and bold and, with a bit of a squint to one eye, it’s a fantasy citadel. The fireplace is black so I set it on black paper using white gesso to make the shape. That stuff brings the pzazz out of inks and watercolour pencils like Inktense. Below are some method sketches using those media plus charcoal lines.

This is a piece of A4 that I dampened and stuck onto the screen to get a feel of the texture. Charcoal and inks bring out the light detail.


Meanwhile, I was looking at Gustav Klimt and his mosaic style of painting. Discovering in the process that any effort to replicate his trademark gold effect would be pointless as he used actual gold! Still, that blocky mosaic effect seemed feasible.


So here we have a sequence from gesso with charcoal lines, through inks, then inks with more gesso applied with a finger, to detail using Pentel brush pen, Fineliner, and brown oil crayon.

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But look at these. I took a photo in very low light which Google offered to adjust. Spooky!


And this – imported into Paintshop Pro for adjustment of contrast and saturation, cropping, and some cloning of edges and background.


I wonder what the finished article will look like!




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