First The Pearl A Lesson In How To Look At Things

An apprentice painter might learn how to hold a brush, mix colors or how to use a palette knife, but it matters nothing if the same person does not learn how to 'look' at things, and to look with the eye of someone who wants to explain the world in terms of paint. After many years of learning to 'look' we come to understand the nature of things and how they relate to each other.

This first lesson is an entertaining introduction to give you some idea of what I mean by 'looking'. Don't be too worried if the world I now introduce seems alien at first, because as you progress with the lessons, you will begin to understand that the real joy of painting is not so much occupying your hands, as truly understanding the laws, the lights and shades, and the memories of all the things around you.

OK, I think I remember what a pearl looks like. Ah, its been so long between pearls. I will try to construct one from memory, first principles and logic.

To begin, let us imagine the largest pearl in the world sits on a red table in a room with a blue ceiling. I am the viewer and I view the perl from the front while behind me is a window. Outside it is a fine bright sunny day.

Now if the pearl was someone elses 'eye' we must imagine what it would see!!.

It would see me, basic and a little crude - but that dosen't matter at this stage?

The window in the same condition.

Together ...

Add a blue ceiling, some walls and a red table (this is roughly what the pearl would see if it could see). Next we squeeze it into a round shape (with a computer this is easy, in a painting you would work backward.) I am a little disappointed at this stage as it looks rather raw and nothing like a pearl. But, staring failure in the eye, we must proceed (forever faithful to our logic).

So lets us rid ourselves of the black edges. Then, since a pearl is not a perfect mirror, I will blur everything ...

Now we can and add a little milky screen (I somehow remember pearls are a little milky, aren't they?)

Still too much saturated color and dark values - so maybe another yellowish screen (glaze) ...

OK ; Now let's cut it out and give it a hard edge ... as it is not made of fur! (later we will look at a lesson on how edge effects texture) ...

Why, I'm virtually rich! So why can't a pauper have a millionaire's imagination? I expect any artist can always be rich beyond the dreams of mere mortals, the difficulty becomes one of keeping reality in plain view.

PS. I am concerned you may think I am confusing computer graphics with oil painting. I am not as this is a lesson about 'looking'. In either case we must still learn the essence or nature of things before we can make them - using paint or computers. With our 'pearls,' as with the world, that is the starting point, and remember, everything exists in relationship to light and other things nearby. The rest is simple logic - either with a brush or computer. OK, lets look some more into the world of the painter.

STUDENT ACTIVITY: Draw and color your own string of pearls using oil pastels or crayons. Hint ... use a toned paper for background. Allow 40min.

GO TO ... looking into a deeper, deeper world or back to lesson list

GO TO ... looking into a deeper, deeper world or back to lesson list

Canvas Painting For Beginners

Canvas Painting For Beginners

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Responses

  • macaria
    How to paint pearls in oil?
    7 years ago
  • gandolfo
    How to give paint a pearl look?
    7 years ago

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