In this post, I’m going to explain how I approached painting the bead necklace. Below is the underpainting, all dry and ready to receive more paint.

I realized that before I started on the beads, I would have to paint the orange crate. It has continuous patterns going across it. In the top portion, the grain is horizontal. In the lower section, there are diagonal ridges where a cutting blade has marked it. It’s much easier to paint those textures with continuous brushstrokes across the length of the entire crate. If I had to stop and start when I came to the beads, the strokes would be interrupted and wouldn’t look convincing. Another reason I painted the crate first is that after I paint it, I’ll need to glaze the shadow cast onto it. If the beads were already painted, the glaze would invariably smudge into them, and I’d have to paint them again.

Below, I’ve painted the crate, using brushstrokes to show the textures. I’ll return to this area again and again, refining the textures and colors, but for now, this is enough. I roughly indicated the black bow.

Below, I’ve put in the glaze to darken the crate. Next, I finally put in a first rough version of the beads.

Below, I’ve painted the push-pin and some highlights on the bow. I darkened the beads a bit.

Below, I’ve spent a lot of time observing the beads. I warmed up their color, softened their edges, and added some highlights. I painted some texture onto the ribbon and refined its highlights, being careful to keep everything within a very narrow, dark value range. I continued to add details to the textures on the crate. I lightened its top surface, making the bow more visible. I softened all of the shadows that the beads cast onto the crate. I brightened the crate on the right side.

Below, I further softened the shadows cast by the beads onto the crate. Shadows are often a lot softer-edged than they seem at first glance. I think that our brains are attracted to contrasts of light and dark, exaggerating the difference. Also, a shadow will get softer the further away it gets from the object casting it. Next, I darkened the beads laying on the table, and softened all bead edges. Rounded objects will always have softer edges, since their form has no hard edge, but just curves away.

Below, I re-painted the push-pin. I re-painted many of the beads, adjusting their color and trying to see all of the subtle shadows, highlights, and reflected lights in them. They were very difficult to get right. The beads on the left are in shadow, but dimly illuminated by the Japanese lamp on the right, which also casts a very subtle shadow on their left. The beads on the right are emerging from the shadow, and are lit by the spotlight on the left. They are also dimly lit by the lamp on their right side. Their right sides also have reflected light bouncing onto them from the lit orange crate. In addition to all of that, their value is very close to that of the orange crate. I am trying to achieve subtle difference in value in a very limited range.

It’s not finished yet, but for now, I’ll move onto other areas of the painting.