Sometimes I have Artist’s Block…

Pears are my go to in times of trouble

I don’t mean trouble like, I can’t pay the bills this month trouble… I mean like the kind of trouble writers sometimes struggle with. Writer’s block. You have a deadline and all you can do is stare into space. It happens to artists too. Instead of struggling through a commission I grab a canvas and paint a pear. It doesn’t take me very long and it helps get my creative mind in the right place to pour my heart into the commission I need to do next.

Why pears?

  1. They are fun to paint, lots of play on light and shadow.
  2. You can paint with any color, weird blues, neon pink, gold! I love gold. Go crazy.

Still life is an excellent exercise

Painting the same thing over and over again might seem boring or a waste of time. Let me assure you it is neither of these things.

Practice is an essential to honing your skill. The play of light and shadow on an object can make it look realistic, cartoony, ethereal or just plain flat. I think it is important to know how to get all of these effects.

Muscle memory and transferable knowledge

  1. When you paint something similar over and over it gets in your brain

Practice drawing a pear, it is a fairly simple shape. Set up a real pear on a table with a light source that casts a shadow. The light placement will determine the highlight on the fruit and the length of the shadow cast by the object. After doing this eye to hand exercise a few times, you will be able to  draw and paint from memory.

  1. All paintings are made up of shapes, light and shadow

I know, I sound kind of ridiculous. Bear with me… To make a pear painting look interesting or real or whimsical the light and shadow has to draw the viewer in and make them see a pear. I can take some creative liberties when I paint pears.

Transferable knowledge from this exercise is this; using light and shadow you can make the appearance of three dimensional objects on a two dimensional surface. Practicing on a pear is great because of its curve appeal. An eyelid is curved, a nose casts a shadow on the cheek, the top lip is darker than the bottom lip if the light source is from above.

That hot pinky glow that lights up an ear when the sun is setting behind the person… When I paint a portrait of a client’s face, one foul move, one shadow or highlight that’s off just a hair they end up looking like the tattoo uncle Larry got in a college dorm room.

Painting pears gives me a chance to loosen up and practice. When it comes to painting commissions I have to get it right the first time.

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