Danièle Lemieux
Oil Paintings

Diary of a Painting Opus V

Our little main street market is filling up with bright local produce making it difficult for me to choose between making dinner and making art! I decided to do both and came home with a large box of tomatoes on the vine, half to eat, and half to paint.

I've had many requests for a new painting "diary" and thought a large fresh vegetable composition, my first of the season, would be just the thing to document.

Day 1

The arrangement actually came together quite quickly with the emphasis on the fresh reds and yellows, and using the cruet of olive oil (olio) as an anchor. Although I normally use one spotlight, for this painting I used two. Twice the light means twice the heat so I will have to be mindful of keeping my cut fruit on set only as long as absolutely necessary.


Day 2

Drawing a grid on my canvas makes it just that much easier to position the elements. This charcoal sketch is simply a rough idea of where things go; I know it will change as the painting develops. Everything gets wrapped up and refrigerated until tomorrow.


Day 3

I start by working on those elements that will fade the fastest. While I prefer to work the whole canvas in roughly on the first day, it is simply not possible with a work of this size. I had hoped to get the second cut tomato roughed in, but I ran out of steam. I have learnt that to continue to paint when my attention is spent is a waste of time and only results in work that will eventually be scrubbed out.


Day 4

Still working on getting all the elements blocked in. It was especially exciting to rough in the striped cloth. This is an important element of the composition, and although it is not a perishable item, it still needed to be blocked in if only to document how the fruit sits on it.


Day 5

I start to go back and add more depth to the tomatoes, lemons and peppers. I add another garlic clove on the far left and work up the reflections in the wine glass. The timing on this is great as it is Friday and I will let the work dry for two days before continuing.


Day 6-7

I rebuild my set and get to work, again focusing on the quickly rotting tomatoes and lemons. Yes, I had them refrigerated over the weekend, but the days under hot spot lights are pretty cruel. I finally get to work more on the striped cloth and oil cruet.


Day 7-8

I am almost satisfied with the fruit and have turned my attention to the background and foreground. This is less than exciting work, but it is crucial to get it right. Again, another two days of drying before I can go in with final steps.


Final Days

Over the course of the past few days I have worked on the background, the foreground as well as re-working the tone of the green bowl. I also strengthened the reds in the wine and whites in the cloth. The work done in these final days are almost imperceptible to the camera. I am glad to finally put my signature to this one!