my tea cup lives a life of complexity

Actually my still life was inspired by the paintings of another artist.  I set up my still life to emulate qualities in the other artist’s work.  My subject is different in scale, in medium, in manner and in subject but the arrangement is partly there.

I always say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and I intend to be very sincere.


My Snow-proof Refuge of Thoughts

My snow-proof refuge is my imagination fitted with an oil pastel box.  After digging out of all that snow, I’m longing for the color green and cannot be bothered to wait for nature to provide it.

Of course spring is just a couple weeks away, and already we are feeling hints of pleasures to come.  And you see robins everywhere.

Call me an early adopter.  I’m doing greens now.  I’m getting warmed up.  And when spring breezes and leaves arrive  in earnest, me and my paint box are going to be ready!

Green apples

I’m on a theme of apples.  Also, am thinking about the “empty” passages, the smooth swells of the drapery, trying to figure out what their relationships should be to the “stuff” of the still life.  And I’m trying to find dimension and air in the spaces through effects of color.  However, in light of my other discovery today (see previous post), I’m looking at my picture in black and white too.

I’m happy to find it still has some poetry even in black and white.

Seeing in black and white

A lot of books teach painting by emphasizing awareness of tone in pictures.  When we look out upon the world, we see colors and yet color can be either dark or light.  What tonality is to color can be partly discovered in drawing: which is to say that when you draw with pencil or pen, obviously you are eliminating color as a factor; and having eliminated it, you have to discover something else to organize the image — line, texture, masses of light and dark.  In painting, though, the dark/light element is still there — only it is hidden “under” or inside the color. 

 To discover how much your perception of tonality makes itself felt through color, artists can photograph their paintings in black and white.  If the image is still strongly organized and legible, then you used tone in your colors.  If the painting is hard to understand in black and white, then it probably relies very strongly upon color effects alone.  A great work of art might go either way of course.  Many impressionist painters, for instance, were little concerned with tone.

So, having strong tonal elements is not a necessity in making a wonderful painting, but it’s good to know how to see tone and to be able to decide whether to be painting tonally or not.  And I always forget how easy it is to take black and white photos with digital cameras.  I almost never use the black and white feature so I tend to forget that it’s there.  But it’s a good tool for testing your pictures to see how strong the tonality element works in particular images.

One setting of my camera defaulted to black and white today when I started my photo session, and I was astonished seeing the picture I was photographing transformed into monochrome.  Here’s the picture below as I photographed it previously for this blog.

Seeing it in black and white at the top of this post, I find that it’s more dimensional than I realized, and some of the dimension was captured by patterns of light and dark.  Don’t forget that you can use your camera not only to document your work but to explore it as well.

I went wild with this feature today.  Here’s the other comparisons I made:

Naturally for studying the effects of black and white in my pictures, I wanted to compare apples and oranges.