Dan's Saw Painting

Dan’s Saw Painting

Dan's Saw Painting

Thank you to Lava Soap for sponsoring this post.

This saw painting was a commissioned by a friend Dan whom though it would be cool to have a portrait of this antique miter saw hanging in his home.  The saw belonged to his great grandfather.  It’s funny, once I had this particular saw in my possession I could see that it was just like my grandfather’s miter saw that was handed down to me and I had painted previously.

Like all of my refined paintings this started out with a line drawing on canvas.  That line drawing would have to describe several crucial aspects of the painting to as it develops:

  • The shapes of all the parts
  • The color separations
  • The edge between form light and shadow

The first thing on the previous list is the most obvious things to look for but I have found the last item on the list (edges between form light and shadow) has become a critical part in determining a successful composition.  The subject matter itself is only one small part of a painting’s composition.  How light interacts with that subject matter is equally important.

Based on this way of thinking I could in theory paint a boring, unsuccessful painting of a sunset (beautiful subject matter).  The opposite is also true.  I could take something boring, maybe even something ugly such as an old rusty garbage can and under just the right lighting create a very interesting and successful painting.

Okay, back to the miter saw painting…

Despite much of the recommendations of many of my drawing and painting instructors I have come to really embrace the process of painting to refinement right from the start.  Although I am experienced enough to know that my paintings will take several sittings to complete that doesn’t stop me from trying to make the painting look finished from the start.

Below you can see the inked line drawing on the canvas with the start of the wooden handle being painted in.

saw painting step 1: line drawing to paint


I just work very slowly from top to bottom and refine as I go.  My palette is very organized with paint strings being premixed and organized on my palette from light to dark.  Having 5 values of each color tends to be my starting point; the rest I’ll mix on the fly.

I usually prefer to paint the entire object through once in its entirety before moving onto the background.  After two painting sessions over two days here’s what the saw painting looked like:

saw painting step 2: first painting layer complete


The saw would need some final touches but this was certainly a good start to the painting.  Now matter how long I work and no matter how small my brushes are almost every painting needs an additional layer of paint just to get things perfect.  With the first layer the darks never get quite dark enough and the lights never quite get light enough.

But before I bother with those finishing touches, this is the point at which I begin the background.  Using larger brushes I start at the top and work my way down.  As usual I have some paint strings mixed up and ready to go right on my palette.

Here’s what the painting look like shortly after I started painting the background in:

saw painting step 3: background in progress

I allow myself to loosen up a bit when painting the background.  I use bigger brushes, and purposefully apply the paint thicker with a more noticeable impasto.

Even after painting the background there would be another session or two of fine tuning things.  This is especially true of any of the metallic parts wooden highlights and shadowed areas.

Here’s the final commissioned painting completed before I handed it off to the client:

Dan's Saw Painting


Remember, when cleaning up your hands and brushes it’s a good idea to pick a soap that is effective at removing oil.  Lava Soap will help you remove stubborn oil paint off your hands!  Lava Soap is available at Walmart or you can find a retailer near you on Lava’s website, as well as print off a coupon.

using lava soap



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