Boston area painter Michael William is a master of the subtle value shift, and his slightly grayed colors lend a beautiful cohesiveness to his work.
Michael has selected two of his favorite paintings from 2013:
White Peony oil on masonite panel 8" x 10" 2013
This piece, despite its minimalistic end result, was probably the most labored still life set up process yet. I took the flower from a centerpiece that was laying around our house, and it took me about 3-4 hours to decide on the flower, the composition, the background, the glass, and the lighting until I finally settled on something (I imagine my inability to make a decision is more to blame than the loftiness of the project). I placed the flower on a table and put a box behind it, then draped the box with a dishrag, creating the patterned trim and a shallow space for the glass to sit in. I then pulled the curtains down to various levels behind me to get the right amount of daylight.
One of the most frustrating obstacles I run into in my studio is getting the tones to be warm enough in the painting, as my work lamp is fairly warm already (despite trying to get it as close to "daylight" as possible) but in this case I actually preferred the coolness in the painting to the warmth of the photo. I was inspired by the way the light decreased from the surface of the table toward the top of the dishrag, and I attempted to emphasize it in the final piece.
Sliced Cortland Apple oil on masonite panel 8" x 8" 2013
I tend to tread lightly when it comes to seasonal / holiday-themed paintings out of fear that they will end up looking tacky or contrived, and Sliced Cortland Apples was no exception. While working on it, I consistently worried that it was boring and that, because I was painting it in October, it seemed like I was trying too hard to market it. After it was completed, however, it became a piece I was happy with and felt could stand on it's own.
I have always loved dark, moody, high contrast paintings with little visual information and small glints of light indicating the forms. In the last year or two I've become fascinated with using complimentary colors or even non-complimentary colors (as long as they still work) to breathe life into shadows and mid-tones. I tried to mix some viridian into the mid-tones and whites on the apple wedges to create consistency in the palette and give them a little vibrancy, although I don't know if it's very noticeable in the photo. The form of the whole apple and the texture of cloth under the cutting board were probably my biggest challenges as they begged for intricate focused detail. After giving in a bit to this urge, I decided that sometimes a little detail is warranted when it helps to balance out the vague, impressionistic areas.
You can see more of Michael William's work at his blog, his Daily Paintworks Gallery and his Etsy Shop. Also be sure to check out his "favorites" post from last year.