I love to garden and naturally I love to paint. What could be better than combining these two passions. While gardening I somehow came up with the idea to paint a series of still lifes that honor hand tools, especially gardening ones! I talked to my uncle Ted who is an amazing gardener himself and who has an unbelievable collection of farming / gardening tools and he instantly went to work finding things for me to paint.
He ended up giving me the garden trowel (shovel) you see in this post. It came from an estate who’s only living heir hired my uncle to keep her gardens growing after her husband passed away. She bequeathed all her family gardening tools to my uncle and has been super generous to him. She just had her 100th birthday so this neat little shovel is super old and surprisingly heavy. They don’t make tools like they used to!
I documented each step of this painting; you can see the photos below. The painting unfolded over a total of 5 sittings. Each sitting occurring on a separate day so that I could let the paint dry in between.
I hung the garden trowel between two nails and placed some strong lighting on it. Then I draw out my composition in graphite pencil. Next I quickly covered the surface with oil washes just to establish the composition.
Next I started increasing my range of values and tightening up edges.
I started making color corrections and fine tuning some of the details in the painting. Since the painting was dry I was able to glaze some areas darker. I also layered some more paint onto the background to give it more of a “worked” look. I also took a good hard look at the wood grain on the shovel’s handle.
With the end in sight I smoothed out the necessary gradations such as with the cast shadow. I also brightened up some existing highlights.
After some painterly nitpicking I was able to call it quits and sign the painting! The completed work measures 16″ x 10″ and is on Belgian linen primed with and oil-based primer.
I also made a video documentation of this painting and posted it here: The Hand Trowel Video
Thanks for watching!