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Assignment One – A moody still life in the ‘chiaroscuro’ style

Assessment time for me. I was asked to choose a simple subject and demonstrate some of what I’ve learnt about painting so far. I decided to do another painting on a dark background as I had loved the deep, moody effect that this had created in my last exercises and I was drawn to subjects in low light, such as those depicted in the chiaroscuro-style paintings I had looked at. I decided to try and capture this low-light, high contrast effect, but to introduce some colour, as I had mostly been doing monochrome work so far.

First some sketches to explore contrast, line and composition. I found the wine glass so, so hard to get right and had to practice the ellipse of this over and over. I also started to think about what colours I could use to show the different tones.

DSC_2770(small) DSC_2767(small) DSC_2768(small) DSC_2769(small)

When it came down to painting, again I found less was more. I had prepared a black acrylic wash background (on A3) and ended up leaving large areas blank or over-painted slightly with darker black oil. Transcendent greys gave the feel of transparent glass and careful highlights helped to show reflections and give the shapes a sense of form. I enjoyed exploring the reflections I could see in the bottle and glass and adding tiny touches of yellow and orange to show to reflected flame. I loved using the rich red and bottle green colours and feel these worked well together. It turned into an incredibly absorbing piece, lulled by the candle glow and the soft light. I loved working on it and thinking about how the objects and colours worked in relation to one another.


I was really pleased with this one and it feels great to have the sense of a ‘proper’ painting under my belt as I move forward. I’m really looking forward to developing my use of colour in the next section – I have lots of exercises playing with different colour combinations next. I just desperately need to pick up the pace now. It’s going to require a lot of discipline as keeping us afloat work-wise is proving so demanding and my health is not so good again, but I’m going to keep putting as much energy in as I can.

See you back here soon!

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