I thought it might be fun to compare my initial black and white study to the (nearly) finished result.

Japanese basket #34

Japanese basket #119

It’s turned out pretty similarly! The only major difference I see is that the background behind the basket is now lighter in value than my original conception. When I was setting the still life up, I took some photos of it to study. The background looked very dark in the photos because of the limitations of photography. The basket was so bright, that the camera couldn’t show any detail in the darks. At first, I liked this look in the photos. As I began to paint from life, however, I could see that the background was indeed, much lighter than in the photos. All of the light from the set-up was bouncing around, illuminating most of the shadowed areas.  Painting the background showing this reflected light produced a more realistic look. I have no problem ignoring reality if it would make a more beautiful and convincing painting, but in this case, reality won!

Another difference is that the value of the orange background wall on the left ended up lighter in value than in my study. I thought that the lighter value made this area more vibrant and provided a balance for the brightness of the basket without detracting from it.

Finally, it is interesting to see how a quick study can convey the feeling of a finished work. You can see this especially in the basket and the decanter, where just a few strokes of paint can capture the essence of an object. In same forms of modern art,  these quick sketches would be considered a finished result. I can see the beauty in them, but for me, they are not a finished work. As I get more experienced, I like to think that I can paint things with a minimum of fuss, and I certainly use less paint and effort to depict things than when I was a beginner. There is a certain beauty and bravura in a simply conveyed image. For a still life, though, a certain level of detail is required for it to be convincing. A still life is, by its nature, an up-close study. There has to be detail for the eye to study. Quick, loose brushwork will work for a background, but not for the main subject.