Frog still life: 1st go

frog still life first go

In just under two hours I began an oil sketch on Arches oil paper of a ceramic frog and some other objects that are arranged haphazardly on a kind of over-flow still life shelf.  The bottle with the bird motif has appeared on this blog before.  To its right is part of a conch shell.  To its left is a little model of the Eiffel Tower.

I realized afterwards that among English speakers the juxtaposition of the frog and Eiffel Tower might seem significant, but their appearance is accidental.  The Eiffel Tower got misplaced on the floor while I was cleaning and upon its rediscovery, I just put it on the shelf with other things. The Eiffel Tower formerly belonged to my mother.  And the froggie, while he is exclusively mine has associations with her as well since she owned a similar little ceramic frog (someday I’ll have to paint a face off of the two ceramic frogs). In any case the two things, Parisian landmark and frog figurine, connect through her rather than through any humorous cultural associations — unless cultural associations over-rule all others …

I bought my ceramic frog last summer at Homestead gardens near Annapolis.  I liked his cheerful green demeanor. I also loved holding it in my hand.  The glass is so smooth that just to hold it offers comfort, offers a mediation on mindfulness through the sense of touch.

It’s amazing to me how sketchy of a sketch this sketch is, but there’s so many little color notes to observe and even in as short a span as two hours the light began to alter rather dramatically.

I don’t know if I’ll continue work on the picture or not, but I like to set myself the task of doing fast little paintings to see how much I can gather together through quick thinking.  The froggie has colors across his chest that require a careful depiction if his form is to be evident. Some of the marks on him now relate to those colors, but I haven’t enough there yet to establish them as colors sitting on the surface. Revealing what is shadow and what is marking in a painting’s early stage can be tricky.

If I do continue working on the painting, it’ll be the frog who gets my attention first. For today, though, I wanted to catch some of the hodge podge of things in their thingness. As a preliminary sketch, I think it’s not half bad.

The blue bottle (to the Frog’s left) and the yellow vase behind it are regulars on my still life table, as the drawings above attest.

morning coffee drawings

rose wc

I have neglected my flower project so this morning I decided to resume thinking about the project by doing some studies of flowers. The flowers on this watercolor page are actually two different vignettes from the artificial flowers I have in my studio still life. They will probably none of them find their way into the painting that’s in the works, but they help get me into flower-thinking-mode.

And the mode is important too.

Just now as I was on the porch photographing the watercolor page, I was surprised to note that there was still water puddled here and there. Don’t know if it’s visible in the photo or not.

I was also very mindful of the humongous spider that I see in that same location at night.  I think he’s strictly nocturnal so I don’t anticipate encountering him in the daylight.  At least I hope not!  He’s very big, very scary (for the arachnophobic). and besides that I’m worried I might trip over him.

Seriously.  He’s big.

Anyway, in episodes of coffee sipping when I waited for passages of the watercolor to dry, I made a quick oil pastel of the same central rose. I’m looking at a volume on Sargent lately and I marvel at how much the man was always painting or drawing something. Little vignettes, random sketches, you name it. The lesson for me is this: be often drawing.  Look all around you, and draw what you see.  It’s that simple sometimes.

rose oil pastel