Art & Design Magazine

Painting Metal

By Ingrid Christensen

Painting Metal

Pearl Onions and Peonies
24 x 12

Painting metal, like painting skin, seems to intimidate students but it's actually pretty easy and I think it's a lot of fun. I enjoyed the challenge of rendering the reflections and distortions across the surface of this brass pot because it was an exercise in simplification and color modification.
The painting was about simplification because there were many more marks in the reflection than I put into the painting.  The most important thing to keep sight of was that I was trying to create a believable form, and the more reflections in the metal, the more the form broke apart and became hard to read as solid.  So I sacrificed some of the interesting little reflections in order that the pot felt like a single, rounded object.  By editing for the fewest, big shapes that I could, this became easy.  I could depict the surface as, essentially, a dark top and light bottom part with the reflection of the little square dish and a couple of the pearl onions in the middle.  Although I could see my easel and a lot of other details reflected in the brass, I left them out and just put in these few major shapes.
The color modification was interesting because I had to render the reflections that I saw in the pot with the correct influence of warm, yellow brass.  So the green dish became warmer in reflection and the white table cloth looked almost peach coloured.
None of this was guess work; the set up was right in front of me and I just had to look.  The tricky part was, as always, understanding what I was seeing and translating that in simple terms to the canvas.
The peonies gave me no end of trouble, but that's another blog post.
Happy painting!

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