"Dad's Thin Ball Pein" • Oil • by John Morfis

Dad’s Thin Ball Pein Painting

"Dad's Thin Ball Pein" • Oil • by John Morfis
“Dad’s Thin Ball Pein” • Oil • by John Morfis

This ball pein hammer belongs to my father. I can remember it standing up, handle in the air, in an old, retired, boiling kettle he kept on his work bench in the garage. That was where all the hammers and chisels were placed.

I have painted many hammers before and they have all have faced the same way in my compositions. I have been painting hammers so that their striking side faces the light source. In the case of the ball pein which is double sided as far as hammers go…I had been typically placing the rounded end facing away from the light source.

This time I decided to flip the hammer around.

I used to paint much more indirectly in the past. I would often lay down washes of a single brown paint or two (usually raw umber and yellow ochre) to create a grisaille underpainting. Alternatively I used to create ebauche underpaintings which are muted-color underpaintings using desaturated primary colors to mix all of the color – sometimes called a dead palette.

How do I paint now?

I’m so used to painting the colors used in these old hand tools I usually just go right for the color. No grisaille or ebauche. I’ve gotten very comforatbale mixing the colors necessary to paint the metals and aged wood handles, there’s really no point in dancing around the color. I just go for it!

I definitely did not paint this hammer in one sitting. The level of detail still requires about 4 sitting to get things right. Not to mention painting on top of dried oil paint is such a joy. There’s magic to it for sure.

Do I glaze?

Not nearly as much as I used to…but I will say that glazing once in a while to imitate the real-world light effects I’m emulating sometimes make things easier. For instance, the lacquered handle of this ball pein hammer is in essence glazed in real life. It has a slightly yellow, film (lacquer) that sits on top of the wood grain. Understanding that in a materials-sense leads me to the conclusion that glazing my painting in the same kind of way would give a realistic portrayal of the handle.

If you could see the painting in real life you would see what I’m talking about and hopefully I’m making some sense here!

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