The first stage of the painting is a monochromatic rendering , done loosely and without detail. Generally I use raw umber for this part. The idea behind this is to capture the lights and darks of the objects and to set a mood or a tone that will show through to the very last stage of the painting.
Next comes the color. The monochromatic rendering of the previous stage I like to think of as the blueprint, and this next stage as the foundation. Working in the local colors I start to give each piece its own identity, giving highlights and the beginnings of contours. Here it is important not to be too heavy handed and paint out the underpainting in the shadow areas, that is where the depth of the painting comes from.
Here begins the refinement of the painting, this is where the finer brushes start to make their appearance and more medium is used in the paint for a more refined brush stroke. The paintings overall tones are set. Now begins the capturing of each pieces unique quality; the bloom of the grapes, the reflections in the silver pitcher, the wet quality of the inner part of the figs.
At this point the background is pretty much finished, although some lightening or darkening is sometimes needed. Throughout the painting (mostly in the shadow areas) that original monochromatic underpainting should faintly appear, making a unifying effect and holding everything together. This also adds to a real sense of depth in the darker portions, well lit areas jump forth and shadow areas recede. Sharper contours are now also brought out, popping the objects from out of the background.
The final stages are the most rewarding, here comes the fine tuning that can really finish off an object. At this point the last strokes are used to bring out the sharp highlights of the silver, the highlights of the grapes, the twist of the added knife handle and the dots of highlights on the figs. Actual painting is at this point minimal, and more time is put into sitting back in the chair contemplating the next stroke, this is important because of the very fact that onestroke can either bring an object to life, or cause you to try and re-work it, which can be very frustrating.