The Difficulties of Painting Popcorn

Some nights I know exactly what I need to paint or draw then on other occasions I wonder out loud, “what am I going to paint tonight?”. In which my wife responds with, “popcorn”. Yes painting popcorn is a bit random but hey, we needed a snack before dinner and I consider anything I can see to be a worthy subject for any artists. So, popcorn it is.

Of course I made a very large bowl, and we munched the heck out of it until I had a small pile left for my still life. The greatest thing about this still life is that I can snack on what I pull out of it. Needless to say the pile of popcorn started out very large and I chomped it down to a better size for a gouache painting.

Originally I was going to paint the popcorn on a white background. I felt it would be a very interesting challenge to paint a white object on white, it would have been a good lesson in values. But after looking at the still life for a bit I opted for a very dark background. I think I’m partial to very dark backgrounds and high contrast. And anyone else reading this now that has seen most of my work is saying “duh!”.

The Popcorn Painting Setup

painting popcorn with chris beaven setupI have got into the habit of painting dark to light. For my popcorn painting I did a very fine drawing then went straight for the dark background and carefully outlined each and every contour with close to the darkest color on my palette. This would not have been possible unless my drawing at the beginning was very accurate.

By the time I reached the midtones in the popcorn cornels I was starting to see all kinds of subtle color transitions within the shadows of the cornels. I always amazed of the complexities of our world and the depth at which you can get lost, painting popcorn is no different. Soon I was totally lost in the focus of painting each small transition trying to view each individual shape and put it down with all its correct attributes. Before I knew it 2.5 hours had passed.

The Popcorn Painting Subject

painting popcorn on black by chris beaven

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