If you study Bonnard a lot, inevitably you will begin to notice the edges.  Perhaps someday you even live in the edges (I don’t know yet about that).  While many artists advise students to choose a “center of interest” old Bonnard taught his fans to seek the periphery and now I include things in the picture that can never be identified.  For instance, there’s a black vase to the right of the blue compotier.  I’ve drawn the black vase before (as below).  It’s covered with the most beautiful designs.  Sitting next to the compotier, its surface wasn’t even black but instead reflects the red of the background cloth and also reflects — in a marvelous way — a convex image of the seashell sitting next to it.

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All that fell outside the range of my picture, but I was so aware of it.  (I suppose I’ll have to do another picture sometime of these other things.) But at the right-hand edge of the new picture at the top, there’s a dark curvilinear shape touching the compotier and it depicts the edge of that black vase.  So that really makes no sense, does it?  But Old Man Bonnard told me not to fret about what makes sense.  He said this is a nice trail to follow, but you have to travel a long ways down its route before you come to the really neat stuff.

I’m taking him at his word.

And once you discover the edges, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the stuff inside the edges too, he said …

Above: pastel on UArt 500 grit paper glued to board, 18 x 24 inches; below: watercolor


10 thoughts on “some red, violet and green inside the edges

  1. Both are beautiful but the top one is really inspiring to me. Your love of Bonnard shines through but your own stamp is also very strong. I like studying the color variations within the areas of seemingly same color. Thanks for posting.

  2. Fritz, that is exactly what I like too — the colors inside a color, all the many variations that you can find on the inside of the color that we tell ourselves we see. Thank you for your encouraging, kind words.

  3. He did paint on unstretched canvas, but I’ve never quite understood the notion that it gave him more latitude since the composition could only extend to whatever the canvas dimensions were — plus he had to allow space for the stretchers even if they weren’t there. It’s a conundrum. Now Degas would sometimes add material to a work after it was in progress so that the composition expanded after he had begun ….

  4. Very true. In the landscape Genre, I see it often in the paintings of contemporary painters Michael Dudash and Jim McVicker. And in earlier painters, in Chauncey Foster Ryder. But I am sure you have many more of your own favourites!
    If you are on Pinterest, look me up (“Fritz Jooste”) – I have boards for all my favourite painters.

  5. Yes, Ben, that’s the logical use of it — that you could crop the picture in some way that creates a dynamic effect. I have never heard that Bonnard did that. The story always goes that he didn’t stretch the canvases so that he could continue the picture. He does draw attention to the edges by the ways he puts things into the corners. But from the character of the image, it’s clear that he had to have planned some element of that in advance — or, at least it’s clear that simply working on unstretched canvas doesn’t account for things like Marthe lurking in the shadows and whatnot …. a conundrum. But cropping can reveal a different emphasis than what an artist starts out with. Sometimes artists will cut a picture down. The National Gallery has a Manet toreador that was originally larger, which Manet himself cut down into something that focuses exclusively on the man’s reclining figure ….

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