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Filtering by Tag: oil painting

5 easy tips and tricks for a successful still life set up

Tony Luongo


I set up this still life knowing I was using the palette knife for the January 2019 demo. I wanted to demonstrate how to use the straight edge of the palette knife to paint with. So I picked these two different colored boxes. Using only two colors, Venetian Red and Titanium White I knew I wanted to make sure there was a strong contrast. The painting was going to be a monochromatic painting with values not color. So I started with the big empty box laying on its side and positioned it so the back of it was in complete darkness with a strong single light source. As I set up the items inside I noticed the light coming across the base, up the side planes and over the top.

Here are five quick tips on setting up you’re still life.

  1. Find some items you want to paint. If you’re making a final painting it should definitely have some meaning to you or you’re not going to want to keep at it. If you’re painting a still life as practice then maybe pick an item that challenges you or that you just have lying around. I painted a lot of apples because that’s just what I have lying around and I wanted to paint.

  2. Have a single light source that you can adjust to create the lighting affect and mood you’re trying to achieve.

  3. Experiment with the lighting to create a mood. For example if it’s strong straight overhead light that gives a much different feel than if it’s off to the side or a soft diffused light.

  4. Arrange and rearrange the items with some overlap to create space, depth and keep in mind all the rules of composition.

  5. Use a large open box on its side to set up a smaller still life inside. You have a better chance of controlling the light if you’re in a room with multiple light sources.

Let me know what you think of these tips and tricks. Have you set up a still life? What works well for you? Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Thanks for reading.

For additional fun watch the demo of the painting here and watch me premix the colors to make the painting quicker and easier to complete.

Mixing your paints to discover exciting new colors

Tony Luongo


These are some of the awesome supplies that our subscribers received in their November 2017 box. If you are new to painting or have some new colors it might be a good idea to do some mixing in order to see what color combinations are possible. Here I used a scrap piece of cardboard with my Gamblin 1980 oil paints and Royal and Langnickel Zen brush.

I started with colors straight from the tubes in the three corners. I then took some of the Titanium White and Transparent Red Oxide and mixed a color in the middle of the two. I repeated this with Titanium White and Torrit Grey and then again with the Transparent Red Oxide and Torrit Grey.

I continued mixing colors until the triangle was complete. My goal for this exercise was to get an idea of what colors were possible not to make a smooth even gradient. When I mixed the color midway between the Transparent Red Oxide and Torrit Grey I add two levels of white to learn what values that warm grey would make.

This is a fun little exercise that gets you pushing around paint without much planning. I was surprised how orange the middle color between the Transparent Red Oxide and Titanium White was. Which was not planned but worked out well for my alla prima painting demo of the pumpkin. (You can watch that full length demo on our YouTube channel.) I frequently do this when creating color combinations for the monthly boxes and when we do a three color challenge. Like I did in the gouache painting demo of an avocado.

What tricks do you have for learning about your new colors?