Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mortar and Pestle still life - oil, 6x6"

Mortar & Pestle in Marble
oil on 1/4" wood panel

Every serious cook needs a mortar and pestle in his or her kitchen!  This one, made of white/gray marble, doesn't get as much use lately as it did in the past, but I will never part with it.  I will say that it was a challenge to paint, but it was a great exercise in doing ellipses - something I haven't painted or drawn in ages.  And, of course, being able to really observe the true values and subtle colors and reflected light that photos seldom capture accurately.  

Another limited palette here - burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and white, with a touch of yellow ochre.  I constructed a 3x3" viewfinder out of a piece of foamboard to assist with composition, and actually taped it to my small tabletop easel.  Worked great.  

I tried to keep the strokes on this loose, but I keep having issues with my paint getting tacky during the painting process.  I've been using M. Graham walnut oil as a medium, and am wondering if that is the problem - it is fine immediately after mixing with the walnut oil, but then gets sticky and doesn't spread well after about 5 min.  Exasperating, to say the least.

One thing I did discover that was the best way to clean my brushes is simply on a bar of Ivory soap after wiping as much paint off as possible.  I have tried removing paint with unrefined linseed oil, followed by washing with dish soap, but that often left the bristles stiff after they dried, indicating I didn't remove all of the oil or paint.  I do have Turpenoid, but I'd prefer not to use it if I don't have to, and it seems to drive paint up into the ferrule, which I have always had a problem getting out.


  1. Great job on painting the Mortar & Pestle in Marble! Good work on the highlights and the shadows!...Daniel

  2. Very good, Sonya. You composed the M&P very well.

    I wish I had a solution for your tacky paint issue.

    This looks like my mortar and pestle that I use for grinding pastels.

  3. Thanks, Daniel - it was a challenge here, due to the coloration of the marble adding some confusion to the shadows, and that they were all subtle at best. I need a stronger light source, I think!

    Thanks Casey. For these small, simple still life paintings, it's a challenge in itself to try and make them look interesting via the composition.

    I'll eventually figure out the issue with the paint; it's been plaguing me ever since I started using oils, back with the Four Corners roadtrip series.

  4. I like these simple little paintings of everyday things. Sometimes we forget the beauty of what we live with every day.

    Congratulations on the daisy painting. How much fun and excitement for you to get accepted into a juried show.

  5. I agree, Ruth - there can be a lot of charm in the everyday objects around the house. I suppose that's why produce and flowers remain ever-popular subjects for paintings.

    It was definitely neat to have work accepted into this popular show here :).


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...