This is the beginning of another bottle still life in oil, size is 20×20 inches. I have the first 2 layers, the value study and color map, layed in. At this point, the painting will go through an ugly stage–one where the colors are very close in value and somewhat muted in appearance. That is because I am still working with transparent color at this stage.
However, it is important to note that the colors may be muted, but they are not muddy. That is because I have waited for the first layer, the value study, to be completely dry before putting color on top of it. The next layer, the color map, serves the purposed of mapping out how colors will balance in the composition. I use the dark and medium values of these colors in this stage, hence there are no bright brights or highlights to really make things pop, and as a result the image appears flat.
If you are working in layers as I am here, it is always best to be sure subsequent layers are completely dry before beginning a new layer. If you are working alla prima (wet-into-wet), as I will in the next layer, it is important to place colors next to one another as opposed to over blending and allowing colors to mix with one another on the canvas. This keeps color pure and prevents you from getting mud. The next thing I will do on this piece is go back to my darkest darks in a more opaque manner, I will then progress into the medium values and brighter colors, and finally add in the lightest colors and highlights. I will post a photo of this once I have the darkest darks placed so you can see the actual progression from dark to light and how working in this order helps to established depth and dimension.