"Tiny Monkey Wrench" • Original Still Life Paintings • John Morfis

Tiny Monkey Wrench Painting

"Tiny Monkey Wrench" • Original Still Life Paintings • John Morfis


I’ve never seen such a small, yet elaborate pipe wrench like this one. Its wooden handle is definitely a telltale sign of it’s old age. Unlike hammers, I don’t think they make wrenches with wooden handles anymore.

Like all of my tool portraits, a good drawing was the foundation for the painting’s initial success. I spent a great deal of time rendering that adjustment screw. That object was complicated. It was threaded and contained a texture that rotated around the cylindrical form. That’s hard enough to conceptualize, but to paint it? Yikes. I took my time and drew that component out on paper first. I was well acquainted with it by the time I was ready to paint it and that’s something I would recommend to any artist that is about to paint something technically complicated:

Draw first! Get very familiar with your subject matter and the painting will happen with less fixing, less headaches.

Actually, when I began painting this adjustment screw I wanted my lines underneath to show up. I used some extra medium and a drop or two of thinner to ensure that my paint was translucent. The last thing I wanted to happen was all that intricate line work to get lost with my first layer of paint. Eventually I want all pencil or transfer paper lines to disappear but I’m finding them quite useful for complicated areas of a painting. For these reasons I let these lines stay visible for the first layer or two of my painting. To the contrary, if a form I’m painting is simple I try to paint over the lines and cover them up as soon as possible.

In regards to this choice over whether or not to us transparent or opaque applications of paint, I find myself choosing different paints on occasion to suit my needs. I like cobalt blue for opaque applications of paint. Although a wee bit expensive cobalt blue has such nice covering power! Now, an extremely similar blue (similar in hue) would be ultramarine blue. When I find I need my paint to be more transparent that’s when I’m more likely to reach for ultramarine blue. So, not all paint choices are based on hue alone. A paint’s physical properties such as transparency also play into an artist’s choices as well.

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