So I've gone from making copies and following walkthroughs to painting from "life" (if you call a stuffed monkey "life").
Chickens - This was a copy of a painting. The original was square, and my canvas was a rectangle, so I had to add a bonus baby chicken. I didn't have a baby chicken in the original, so he looks a little sketchier.
Vlad - After the chickens I had to up my game to humans. This was a walkthrough - believe me, I would never have seen the greens and purples in the shadows. Gary decided the model looked like Putin. The eyes are not even, and I don't know why the right eye works and the left one doesn't. Perhaps Vlad had a stroke. Also, his nose, mouth and eyes all seem to have drifted to the right as you move down the face.
Apples - This is closer to a forgery than a copy, since I used my own apples but obviously I'm trying to make it look like Cezanne's apples. It's my first try at cast shadows. Cast shadows are my nemesis.
Croquet Balls Try 1 - I was not content with the easiest things in the world to paint: spheres and cylinders, no, I had to add the hardest thing to paint: glass. Also, cast shadows, we meet again. I was pleased with the mallet. The glass jar - well, it was good for a first try. Also, I had to draw from life again, and I was rushing to paint so I didn't check the drawing. I have since flipped this upside down and have seen how wonky the jar is.
Croquet Balls 2 - The overhead fluorescent lights made the previous painting hard, so I set up a still life box. It's just a box lined with black fabric and a single external light source. I set up the croquet balls again, this time in the box, and it came out better. (Except again with the cast shadow. Ugh! Too dark.) I see why artists paint studies. It's so odd how you can subconsciously make sense of something each time you paint it.
Sock Monkey - This time I really held myself accountable with the initial drawing. I drew it on the canvas, then took a photo of the monkey and compared my drawing to the photo. The pitcher was dead on, but the monkey, like Vlad above, decided to skew to the right. So I transferred the photo to to the canvas with a Sharpie. (I believe the technical art term is "cheating".) I should have checked Google first: the alcohol in a Sharpie will rise through multiple layers of oil paint. You can't cover it. Still, I like how the pitcher came out. Except, of course, for the shadow it casts on the monkey’s chest and arm.
So what am I painting next? I made a still life with teacups and a transparent red glass bowl. It has a cast shadow combined with reflections AND the light shines through the red bowl and falls on a white napkin - and I am crazy. I am taking that bowl out right now. Teacups on a white napkin, that’s what i’m painting next.