They really are intimidating because of the fuzzy texture of the suede heal and toe. Shiny is easier or at least I have painted plenty of shiny objects. One night last week, I stopped at one of the many pawn shops that litter the Ft Knox landscape and found the cheapest pair of used boots. Luck was with me and I found a pair for 10 dollars. I figured it was going to cost me at least double that so I was happy. They were broke-in and perfect for my still life.
I looked through our well-stocked spare room of everything military and selected a helmet with goggles and a few smaller items and started the composition. I have painted with a few "naturals" who could set a still life up in 10 minutes. For me it's always an hour or more. There were several ways that looked good but I ended up taking the helmet out. It just looked too typical and staged. So I decided to just paint the boots making them the main focus. Because I have 20 years experience taking my boots off nightly, I am familiar with every possible combination of two boots landing in a corner. This really helped me to visualize the composition.
Painting is one of my favorite things to do. Making neat plies of paint I set the oil out by value starting with white and working left to right until I ended up with ultramarine blue. Adding clove oil to the paint always reminds me of painting in Mason Michigan with Natalie Hause in the one room school house. We painted together for over four years and I picked her brain every Thursday. She so so talented and I treasure those days. I wanted to paint more than I ever wanted to do anything else in my life. It was frustrating because I would take lessons from painters who were self taught. This is not a bad thing it just wasn't my thing. Natalie taught us to mix colors from the color wheel, not buy all the colors ready mixed in a tube. She insisted on painting from life, no photos so we could see the colors on and around the object. We learned to draw using our paintbrush measuring the known to find the unknown. Over the years I struggled to finish a painting in the 4 secessions but eventually was able to finish a painting in 4 settings with using all the steps. I still hear her voice when I paint and am trying to figure out what is wrong. "Check your drawing", "If something looks wrong check the direction of your stroke, Does the value look wrong? check the color behind your object..... highlights have a shape a value a hue... anyway she was the real deal and I am so lucky to have found her and been able to work so closely with her for so long.
It was about stage 3 when I began to dislike the painting. It just looked immature. I struggle like most artist and started feeling in over my head. Those boots were hard. As always when I returned to my studio the next morning I thought the painting had enough merit to continue on. I did go back to my drawing and found two areas that were wrong. Once I corrected the drawing I began to flow with the painting. At a certain point the painting becomes fun. My favorite part is when all the construction is done and I look for detail in the colors placing them so they define the object.
I may paint the boots one more time before entering them. The first time I paint some thing it is more a study of the object and its complexities. I like this painting and have learned so much I know the second time I will be able to really rock it.