Adam Houston

American Impressionist Oil Painter

Two Pears and an Apple

This one is sort of a warm-up exercise. We went to the beach for Thanksgiving and I have a new set-up to paint while away from the home studio that I wanted to try out. The new easel is a Guerrilla Painter Thumb Box and I also bought a brush carrier so I can start painting plein air.
When we got in it was really overcast and rainy so I had to set-up inside to give it all a try. They had some really nice fake fruit so I sat down and painted what I had. It was good to try this out indoors and get my feet wet while it was nasty outside.

Apple Bowl IV

Here is the painting that came out of the study on 108. You can click on the image to see a more detailed version. This is the biggest one I’ve done since starting the blog and it was both fun and terrifying to work this large.

For something so simple there is a lot going on in this. The bowl has this cement feel to it, I had to get the feel of beat up wood, the apples had to look like apples and then the light behind it all had to be just right. Lots of different textures in a pretty sparse layout.

Most of it came together without gnashing of teeth. The funny thing was the background. I had it the color I wanted but it was almost perfectly even and boring. I decided to try a line of light going diagonally through the background and that gave it the life it needed.

Apple Bowl IV (study)

I recently donated a painting to a silent auction and used a larger size canvas than what I typically work with. Before starting the 20″ x 16″ I needed to get a plan for exactly how I wanted to paint it. So I painted this.

This one is a small (6″ x 4″) study for the larger work. I was focused on nothing but the basic blocks of color, composition and how it all felt once the colors were together. It’s alright I guess but the real value was in making some mistakes here and clearing things up before I did the “real” one.

I’ll post the bigger version this weekend so you can see the before /after views. Plus there is some really fun stuff to post next week.

The Standoff

For number 64 I tried to do a little more with the composition and make it more dynamic. The original idea had the pears ganging up on the apple but once I got it on the canvas it looked more like the apple is bossing them around. For some reason too the brushwork was a lot more loose too and this one was especially fun to paint.

Out of the Shadows

Building off of what I learned with No. 57 I cropped this one in tighter, made the background a little more dramatic and then focused in on the apple a little bit more. I like the way it turned out and the composition is tighter as well. By focusing I was able to keep my colors cleaner on the apple and I think that’s what helps it. It did not go on too thick so the yellow near the stem and the light yellow/red on the highlight stayed purer on this one.

Mug Shot

Another apple here but this time I’ve tired two mugs and backed off of them a bit. In hindsight I think they are a little too far back but it would look good in a frame. This one was weird too because the mugs felt really good but I struggled a bit with the apple. You would think after painting dozens of them I’d have them down but it’s still a challenge.

The Lineup

Another one of the apples on blue here. Same goals as last time – be more loose and try a different perspective. It’s not that different but I tried looking at it straight on. I was also toying with the composition by cropping off the other two apples and then having the bright side of one and the darkest side of the other.

Three for the Road

Switching gears here and moving back to the fruit for just a bit. I liked how the last couple of fruit paintings turned out but I wanted to try and be a little more loose and experiment a bit with the color. I think I would paint everything with that brown / ocher background but it’s good to try different things. This one too I tried to look down on the apples to get a different perspective. I was too chicken to try it straight down but this is getting there.

Believe it or not, the red ones are a lot easier to paint. They have so many more colors (which would seem to complicate it) but the variances on the granny smith’s are much more subtle and harder to capture. More tomorrow.

Apple Bowl, III

With number 48, and the fear of being back in color, out of the way I was able to really start moving. Number 49 picks up with our friends the apples. I had struggled before when there were a number of different apples in the composition but this one felt better. Same deal as 48 here too. Set it up live, took about an hour with no wailing or gnashing or teeth.

These are also the first few with the 6″ x 6″ canvas boards. I had seen a lot of painters using these and wanted to give them a shot. I like the 8″ x 8″ size but these are even easier to deal with. It’s not too small but still has a limited area so finished them is relatively easy.

Apple Bowl, Part II

Here is number 35, which is the sister painting of No. 32. As I mentioned in that one, Leslie forbid me from doing anything else to it after the first take and I wanted to finish it so I started over. Personally, I like this one so much more. Not just because it is “finished” but because I took what was good about the other one and pushed it. Some of it is personal preference I guess but I am just happy I did it again and got it here.

This one is the last of the apples probably until the end. I have enjoyed staying on a subject and it has made me better at painting them, but I am tired of apples. The next six or so will be from the Georgia coast and they are shaping up nicely.

This is an 8″ x 8″, original oil painting, done on stretched canvas.