This post was approved by the FQCM., painting the couch... let's see... well, there's always... no, that's super-boring...  hmmn.  Oh!  Oh Yeah!  I almost forgot!  People LOVE that thing about couches!  You know THE THING!  I'M YELLING AND EXCITED ABOUT IT SO YOU SHOULD BE TOO!  ...Alright.  I admit there is nothing inherently exciting about a couch and I don't really have much to say of any interest about painting one either...  hmmn.  It's a couch... with cushions?  Fascinating stuff indeed!

This may surprise you... I  don't really care all that much about painting couches.  Unfortunately, sometimes girls in paintings need to recline semi-naked on things..  I don't actively seek out these sorts of situations, they just happen to me.

In fact, if I had my preference I wouldn't even have a couch in the painting.  It's way too dangerous for a gentle soul such a myself!

It is well documented that if I don't do a top notch job of rendering every little detail, the Furniture Quality Control Monster sends one of his goons over and I may find myself on the business end of a talking-to about why I can't wait to spend three more hours painting the piping on the couch cushions and how said piping had better move people to tears when they see it.

The FQCM means business and he gets the tears he wants, one way or another.  

As you might imagine, the possibility of having the FQCM show up for one of his surprise inspections puts a great deal of pressure on a painter.  In order to prevent any kind of FQCM confrontation, I have a certain procedure that I go through EVERY time I'm working on the supporting elements of a painting.

First, I gather up loads of reference photos.  If I'm painting a lamp, I usually like to have pictures of four or five or fifteen different kinds of lamps.  Sometimes I even have a picture or two of lamps that I just like and couldn't pass-up in the magazine I was looking through, even though they have nothing at all to do with with what I'm painting.

Second, I like to really step back from the canvas and try to decide which of my reference lamps will best fit the piece.  After flipping through the stack of reference pictures, I step back even further to consider shape, texture and perspective of all the possible lamps. By now I've stepped back a couple of times and since my studio isn't huge, I'm now probably standing next to my couch so I might as well sit down.  It is well known that sitting is MUCH more conducive to thinking than standing.  This way I can focus all my brain-powers on the important task at hand!

Third, I usually close my eyes so I can imagine each lamp as it would fit into the layout of the painting.  Careful consideration must be given to every detail so as not to provoke scrutinizing from the authorities. Combined with moving into a horizontal position on the couch, this often results in a zen-like mental state known as Maximum Focus.  I have been known to maintain this kind of concentration for a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon.

Also, as every one knows, it is virtually impossible for any of the FQCM's goons to smash your head in during Maximum Focus.  It's like a protective barrier against things that are trying to ruin your day.

Sometimes I enact this routine even when there aren't any supporting elements in my painting because it's that important for my personal safety.

   Easily my favorite part of the rendering the surface of the couch is the shadow under her right knee.  Normally, obsessing over every little detail leads to my work having a stilted, overworked quality, but this area somehow managed to escape that fate.  Just a couple of strokes around the knee with a half paint-half waterlogged brush leaving some of the darker orange area underneath showing through and BAM! we have a terrific grounding shadow.

Official Super-Useful Diagram #1

Official Super-Useful Diagram #1

As you can see in the above Official Super-Useful Diagram, a grounding shadow is the trick that makes one object appear to be touching the surface of another object.  The Fig.A Stick-Figure Andrew is clearly pathetic and lost, floating in a indeterminate space while the Fig.B Stick-Figure Andrew is much happier and well-adjusted because he has a grounding shadow that shows that he belongs somewhere and gives his life meaning. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Regular Andrew needs to get a grounding shadow ASAP.

Even though they are important and make you feel really good about yourself, grounding shadows are just a fraction of the details that come under the jurisdiction of the FQCM.  Details like piping on the cushions and the tufting buttons on the backrest of the couch are the kind of thing that gives an object a solidity and believability. Without them, the object just seems unfinished and might get you kneed in the balls by one of the FQCM's henchmen. 

Without sprinkles on top, a cupcake still looks like cupcake, but it's much more cupcake-y with the right delicious supporting details in place.

Official Super-Useful Diagram #2

Official Super-Useful Diagram #2

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is too many goddamn Official Super-Useful Diagrams.

The point of all of this is that as an artist, you need to be ever vigilant about every tiny aspect of everything you ever do or you will suffer the FQCM's tortures in excruciating and undignified ways. 

hmmn... So I guess all the fussing I did about ruining the painting in the previous post with the blue was just a shitload of overreacting since apparently I painted over every bit of that mess this week.

I'm a professional!