This little turquoise seashell painting progresses bit by bit.
I have a bunch of seashells ranged on the table in a composition that extends along the length of the table. When I began this painting, I put one of the shells in the center and I could have portrayed it alone. There is another shell beside it, though, and I drew that one too simply because it was there. I knew that the edge of the picture would crop part of the second shell.
Lately I’ve been painting still life that way, letting the picture extend as far as it will, letting it end wherever it ends. It alters one’s relationship to the edge. Then edges of a picture can become fascinating places to describe. I remind myself that the frame will cover about a quarter inch. Sometimes I find I am getting caught up in little details that occur on the part of the panel ordinarily covered by the rabbet. And I don’t want the frame covering them. Certain of my paintings probably need to be glued to a second support so that it can be framed in a floater.
It’s a bit of an odd problem to have, or an odd fascination. But there it is.
The contemplative nature of still life is what I love: the fact that you can find intriguing bits of vision throughout the whole set up, so that the more you look, the more you see. I never quite know how far the image will spread — once I’ve begun putting the central things into the composition. Some object gets cropped — it goes without saying — and what will afterwards be occurring at the edge is unknown. I like surprises. I like visual mysteries.