Still Life with a Pineapple and Other Fruits
by Vicente Collado Jr
Doha, Qatar
Mon 11th July 2011

This is the first time I paint from life. Sort of, that is.

My still life paintings have always been from pictures or imagination. Setting up arrangements is simply too cumbersome especially when perishable goods that can't last the duration of the painting process are involved.

Still Life with Pineapple and Other Fruits
Oil on Canvas
(40cm x 50cm)
But now, with digital cameras, setups do not need to be physically infront of the painter; a photograph of it will suffice. Painting from an image displayed on a desktop screen, tablet or smartphone is as good as painting from life.

This shot seemed to be the most suitable resource for a still life painting. There were supposed to be three slices of watermelon but my six-year old son grabbed one before I could click.

I worked most of the time in front of the computer. The image enlarged beyond life-size proportions provided me with information and details I could not have gotten from an actual setup.

But, there are certain conditions for a picture to be a good substitute. Only one source of light must illuminate the setup and no flash should be used. It goes without saying that a more hi-tech camera will produce a more realistic result.

For this painting, I arranged fruits from our refrigerator in a triangular shape, considered to be the most stable composition. I then took several pictures from different angles and chose the best shot. After putting back the fruits into the refrigerator, I was ready to work "live" from a photo displayed on my computer screen.

Stage 1

First, I roughly sketched the image, making necessary adjustments. A 'kiss' between the cantelope and the glass of juice needed to be corrected. 'Kisses' in a painting happen when the edges of elements just touch, giving the impression they are parts of each other. Overlapping or separating them solves the problem. The sketch done, I started the underpainting using acrylic burnt umber. Acrylic dries faster and is a good support for oil.
Stage 2

I then applied two layers of oil paint using only middle tones or the local color of each object. The most brilliant color of red was placed in the central area. The background was covered with a gradation of dark to light from left to right to indicate that light is coming from the left. Here, I already tried to establish color and form balance to strengthen the composition, but paint application was still loose with no attempt at accuracy.
Stage 3

Here, I started to paint with greater precision. The eyes of the pineapple are a challenge. At first sight, they all look like a blur, but a closer inspection reveals there is a pentagon border and a star-shape inner core in each one of them. The cantelope is another enigma with so many lines on its skin. But, it's basically a sphere with light yellow lines all over it. So, the first step is paint the sphere and then add the lines later when the paint has dried a bit.
Stage 4

In this stage, more texture was added. The right side of the drapery was given more folds to mirror the other side. 'Wiggly worms' were glazed on the cantelope. 'Pimples' were added to the avocado and strawberries. I also scumbled the white haze on the plum.
I glazed the basil leaves and extended a couple of them to overlap with the pineapple to avoid 'kisses.' I also added a bluish layer on the cloth and on the pineapple leaves for vertical color balance.
The Finished Painting

In this finishing stage, I strengthened all highlights and deepened all shadows. After applying another layer to the juice itself, I painted the glass applying just minimal paint on its outline. Higlights were added later. To make the juice appear to be really inside the glass, the front higlight was extended all the way down over the yellow juice.I then scumbled white warmed with yellow ochre on the light areas of the table cloth, sauce plate and basil pot, and added grains to the wooden table. I made some finishing touches on the seeds of the watermelon and refined the skin of the rest of the fruits.
The focal point of this painting would be the area containing the watermelon slices, the orange, a part of the cantelope, the green and yellow mango, and the plum. All the other items lead the viewer's attention to this point. The triangular arrangement of the different objects gives unity to the whole composition. The cloth underneath also serves to strengthen this unity.

After signing my name, I am ready for the next painting from life.


Still Life with a Pineapple and Other in the Fruits
Mon 11th July 2011