Before I begin my study, I must mix up a range of greys in values from black to white. I’ve found that for the purposes of the study, 9 values will suffice. (The finished painting will contain many more values than this, but I can save subtlety for later!) I number each value mix right on my palette. That way, if I use a #3 and it looks too light, for example, I’ll know to try the #4.
I usually begin by painting the darkest and the lightest values. I can judge the rest of the values in comparison to these. Seeing values can be tricky. I must compare one area to another constantly. Until all of the paint is in place, it’s very difficult to be sure I’m seeing correctly! This doesn’t bother me, though, because I know that this is just my first approximation. I will return after this first layer has dried a bit, and make corrections.
I’ve added some more details below. I don’t try to be exact when painting the study. My style here is extremely loose and free. I just want to see where the basic large shapes and values are. That will be enough for me to be able to judge the composition. Any time I spend painting too carefully will be time wasted.
After a break of a few days, I’ve made some corrections below. The box wasn’t dark enough, the tablecloth was too light, and the left side of the basket needed more shadows. I completed the bottom cloth and geode. I made a few more corrections in other places, but the paint was very wet, and difficult to work with without smearing. I’ll have to wait a few days for it to dry before making my final corrections.
I’m always fascinated to see how few details are needed to suggest an object’s form. The Japanese basket is extremely simplified here. I made a few loose brushstrokes to barely represent the weave, and yet it looks pretty good! My husband pointed out that in most modern styles of painting, the basket would be considered just about finished! Of course, my style of painting is quite different. I’ll be spending a lot of time carefully observing and painting the details of that basket. I will essentialize and simplify, of course. My job as a painter isn’t to be a recorder of every detail, but to represent the essence of each object by deciding which are the most important parts to emphasize.