First painting in five years

This may be one of the biggest steps I’ve ever taken in all my life. A true commitment to art making daily.

After five years of not painting anything I didn’t expect this painting to turn out well, and it didn’t. But, I’m super excited because I had a great time doing it and I ACTUALLY DID IT! That is what counts the most here. I sat down and painted.

My first painting in 5 years!


The painting setup

After five years of not painting anything I didn’t expect this painting to turn out well, and it didn’t. But, I’m super excited because I had a great time doing it and I ACTUALLY DID IT! That is what counts the most here. I sat down and painted. I wanted to focus on just blocking in the major ideas of the painting. Focus on the facets of  shapes rather than getting it to look exactly like the candle holder. The more I look at it the more I see that it isn’t such a colossal failure. I was expecting that after 5 years I would have lost all painting ability but it wasn’t quite like that. I also wanted to focus on taking my time and trying to get each and every brush stroke correct the first time and in the right place. That didn’t work out so well, and I found my mind loosing focus more often than not. The ability to do a painting and not care how it is going to turn on but just to do it for the sake of doing it was exhilarating. Now lets go over the issues in detail and how I can improve for tomorrows painting.

My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color


Above I outlined my painting and then overlaid the basics of the drawing over a picture of the original still life. Here it is easy to see that my drawing needs work. I just did some cursory measuring when I started this painting.

How can I improve the drawing?

Take more time and measure more. I wanted to get to laying down paint so quickly on this one that I figured, that the shoddy draftsmanship was ok. This ended up causing me more issues further into the painting. Remember the hierarchy, each item in the list must be correct or all that follow will fail.

I also remember years past that for some subjects like portraits the likeness depends heavily on the extreme accuracy of the drawing. And that accuracy can be thrown off by just the width of a brushed line. That kind of accuracy was not needed here but I did get caught by not setting up a base to measure from.

  • Setup a base to measure from (in this case it would have been the head height of the figure)
  • Take more time drawing
  • Measure more


I took the setup picture and removed all the color. Then cutout the still life and the painting and brought them closer together.

How can I improve the values?

Here again I rushed it a bit. I tried to setup the lightest part of the painting in the beginning, by determining what the lightest part of the painting would be and put a stroke down for that area. Then further in the painting I would know that no other value would be lighter than that. But I forgot to do the same for the darkest area. Seems like the lightest and darkest were the easy parts, where I was getting mixed up were the medium areas.

What is interesting is the lightest area in my painting was almost 100% white but when I look at the picture I see it is no where near the lightest light in the still life. I’m pretty sure this is due to the lighting for the photograph. Even though this is not a good excuse, when I refer to values I have to remember that they are all are relative. I can never achieve the brightness of the sun in a painting, so the rest of the colors will have to darken to compensate.

Here I pulled out pieces of the painting and still life and put them right next to each other so I can see the exact value issues.
  • Take my time
  • Set lightest light
  • Set darkest dark
  • Recognize the medium values right next to the lightest and darkest and put them down next
  • Remember values are relative


I didn’t focus on edges much at all in this painting. I plan to focus more once I get better at the drawing and values for later paintings.


I kept the composition simple and didn’t focus on it at all. The only thing I wanted to do was keep the entire figure in the painting.


Not much of a focus on color here. I just recognized which areas were warm and which were cool and tried to keep them somewhat true.

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