How to Oil Paint a Baseball

How to Oil Paint a Baseball


By Hall Groat II, 2008 ©

How to Oil Paint a Baseball


By Hall Groat II, 2008 ©

1.Begin with by deciding on the placement of the baseball within the composition, and then trace around a circular object with a pencil. However, if you are very skillful and are able to render a perfect circle, then you will not have to cheat! I usually position the baseball slightly off-center to make the painting more interesting and not so visually static. An asymmetrical composition is dynamic and suggests visual tension and movement, unlike the formal bi-lateral symmetrical format. With either compositional format, be certain to consider the “rule of thirds,” and avoid placing the baseball in the exact center, as if it were a bulls-eye. The classical compositional theory called the “Rule of Thirds” is taught within my volume #18 DVD that introduces basic rules of composition.


2.Paint the cast shadow, opposite the light source, using a transparent layer of Burnt Umber, which is an outstanding low-key value to establish the initial light and dark patterns. Be sure to both observe and render the foreshortened elliptical shape of the cast shadow.


3. Mix together on the palette with your brush, Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber using an ample amount of linseed oil so that the paint can be applied transparently and not too thick. Apply the paint throughout the negative space above the baseball. Allow this layer of paint to gradate thinly through a scumbled brushstroke into the white gesso ground on the lower left, and into the cast shadow on the right.


4.Paint the foreground with a layer of yellow ochre using broad and simple brush strokes and scumbles. Allow the bristle marks from the scumbled stokes to remain.
Slightly overlap the front edge of the cast cast-shadow to soften and diffuse the edge as it extends away from the baseball.


5. Mix together on the palette with your brush, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre using a small amount of linseed oil to slightly thin the paint so it can be applied as a semi-opaque layer. Paint in low-key, slightly warm neutral, throughout the lower half of the baseball where the shadow exists. Work directly over top the bottom right edge so that the cast-shadow and shadow of the form become integrated as a “shared value.”


6.Drag with the paint brush a very transparent layer of the shadow tonality around the top edge to enable the edge to recede back into space.


7.Paint the light striking the form as a half-moon shape, with a tint of yellow ochre and white. Leave a gap in between the spot of light and shadow.


8.Mix together on the palette the shadow tone with the tint used for the light, and paint a secondary plane in between the form light and shadow with brushstrokes that cut across the form.


Detail of secondary plane brushstrokes


9.Blend the three “value spots” together with small geometric, wedge-like brushstrokes to realize a sphere. With a clean brush, begin by using a series of small wedge brush strokes in a 45-degree pattern and carefully merge the form light into the middle value from step 8, and in the same manner, merge the form shadow value from step 6 into the middle value. You will end up with four separate value bands or spots.


Take not of the angular brush strokes that cut across the form, and the four distinct areas of value.


10.Mix Ultramarine Blue with white to create a middle value tint. Apply the tint using small wedge-like brushstrokes in the areas that you see cool light. With this painting I observed
cool light spots with the lower left, middle of the form shadow and along the top left right edge.


11.Suggest the location where the stitches will be rendered as a cross contour through scumbling in with the tone left on the brush


12.Using a very small “00” sized brush carefully render the pattern of the stitches with the neutral tone from the background.


13.Integrate the shadow of the form with the upper right background with a tone consisting of yellow ochre, burnt umber and the neutral used for the surrounding space.


14.Paint the spot of warm light with a tint of yellow ochre where the light strikes on the upper and lower left. Apply the paint more thickly as isolated spots that are not blended.


15.Now it’s time to introduce middle value cools. Paint a modular brush stokes around the Yellow Ochre spots that slightly overlap the warm and extend into the lower-key umber on the right side.


detail of brushstrokes


16. Scumble with a dry bristle brush the muted blue and ochre spots into the umber to model the form.


17.Apply a thicker passage of tinted yellow ochre throughout the lower left to pull the foreground foreword, which will enhance the illusion of depth. Move some of the cool blue–gray tone from the baseball into the foreground to harmonize the color and suggest movement.


18.Restate more accurately with umber and red the form of the stitches, and indicate the minute holes in the leather that the stitches are woven through.


19.Scumble into the space above the baseball contrasting warm and cool neutrals to vary the left from the right side. Use both the red and the blue tones that were already introduced into the form of the baseball. Overlapping these varied temperature spots gives the space more of sense of depth, and an overall sense of color harmony. Introduce both warm and cool tonalities within the cast shadow to give it a sense of atmosphere and inner light. Suggest the spot of light with a tint of yellow ochre that breaks around the baseball at the lower right.


20.Completed Painting!


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