Coffee mugs have many qualities that make them engaging subjects for art:
- They have no problem holding a pose for hours on end.
- They are vessels for the nectar of the gods. The dark, bitter, piping-hot nectar of the gods.
- They can be used to convey any number of symbolic meanings. Well maybe not any number. More like four or five.
- They interact well with human subjects: a person’s hand is fun to draw holding a mug, with one finger crooked reverently inside the handle….
- The mug raised to a person’s mouth also covers up the bottom of his face, which is convenient if you: A) want to focus more attention on the eyes, B) your model has facial hair, or C) you are bad at drawing mouths.
- Coffee mugs come in many shapes and sizes. The mug’s figure can vary from short and stout to tall and tapered. There is the diminutive demitasse for espresso, and the jumbo “soup bowl” that acts as a perfect medium from which talented barristas can coax hearts, ferns, or detailed portraits of President Barack Obama out of latte foam. My personal favorite, though, is the cream-colored porcelain mug with a simple handle and slightly concave sides (see image below).
This little painting gave me plenty of grief. It actually took a couple weeks of on-and-off work to get it to its finished state. The mug itself was completed in about an hour on the first day. It was the table top and shadow that confounded me. The brown was either too patchy, or too chalky. Too thick with pigment or too watery.
(Here you can see an earlier state of the painting, still taped to the backing. Not too pretty.)
Although watercolor does not lend itself to do-overs, you usually *can* remove a great deal of the pigment and try again.
- To do this, you fist have to apply large, yet controlled amounts of clean water to the area where the paint needs to be removed.
- Once the water has re-activated the paint, you then must lift the color off the paper either using a dry brush, towel, or sponge.
- This works as long as the paints involved don’t leave too much of a stain. Staining depends on the actual pigments used in the paint.
It was a great learning experience, and I applied this new knowledge to the next mug I painted. Check back tomorrow for that one!
As for yesterday’s challenge: The Pier 1 items are the fake potted succulent, the white blob of a condiment dish that the spoon is resting on, and the enormous wine glass.
Today’s challenge: can you find the previous post where the early stage of this painting (above) makes its first appearance?