Thursday, May 14, 2015

On the Easel - Step by Step of Chocolate Chip Cookies Trompe L'Oeil Daily Acrylic Painting

"Cookie Emergency 1," acrylic on panel, 6" x 6".
I won't claim this is the most successful daily painting I've done, but it was one of the toughest. All of the cracks and crevices of a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie definitely provide a challenge for a trompe l'oeil piece.

I also remembered to document my process today, too, which I often forget to do! Enjoy!

Painting realism as daily paintings is a pretty labor-intensive process. Most of them take between 6 and 9 hours to complete, at least for me. To speed up my process, I actually take a quick photo of my subjects, print it in black and white, and trace the outline onto my board. Don't get me wrong - I love a beautiful drawing, but here I'm planning to "draw" most of the work with the paintbrush, so I just want to quickly get the major shapes down in the right place so I can get to work. Hey, if it was good enough for Thomas Eakins, it's good enough for me!
I try to use a very limited palette for most of my pieces. This one will only have five - cadmium yellow, burnt sienna, titanium white, payne's gray and burnt umber. I add a bit of retarder to each color to extend the working time, and use a bit of glaze and/or water as I paint. Because acrylic dries so quickly, though, even with the extender, I'll end up using several "palettes" of color, tossing each in the trash when they become too tacky to work with.
Just laying in a base color. I work in very thin glazes most of the time, so this is just a jumping off point.
I forgot to take a photo of something here, but thought I'd explain that when I have a larger flat area of color, especially one that I'll likely need to go over several times or return to later in a piece, I actually mix a larger quantity of the color in a small disposal condiment container with a lid. These are really inexpensive; I buy a pack of 50 (I think) at Target. They are just the right size, will keep my paint pretty fresh, even overnight, if I find I've missed something and need to retouch, and I just toss them when I'm done.

Between the above photo and the one below, I actually spent about two or three hours reworking the details of the cookie. This makes the trick of the trompe l'oeil more convincing. My goal is not to get it to look convincing a few feet away, but less than a foot away. I don't always reach the goal I aim for, but I do keep trying, and I learn something with each piece.

Thanks for looking!