Part way there

two shells

Part of this picture I love.  The central shell has a nice presence.  The smaller shell needs adjustment.  But it’s been a good painting day.

I need to wipe out the smaller shell and redraw it.  But it’s been a good painting day nonetheless.

color scheming

seashell red and yellow backgr 2

Sometimes I put the seashells into color environments that recall their ocean homes.  Sometimes I plunge them into a set up of bright colors that I favor.

Here the seashell is not ocean artifact — it is still life object, sitting on a tabletop covered by a yellow leaf and floral patterned cloth with brilliant red and bright violet backgrounds adjacent.  I realize now that some of my paintings record the evolution of still life table changes, that the different colored backgrounds feature a succession different objects as I cycled through various color and pattern choices, using them for various different objects.  Thus the same color scheme used for this seashell appears also with one of the flower pictures.

The still life table is like a theatre stage and the still life objects are actors that appear in different scenes of the drama.

amazing how active tulips are

tulip study 1The tulip I picked from the yard this morning has moved around while I’ve been painting and observing it.  Apparently “still life” is terminology that tulips don’t understand. I don’t mind the flower moving around.  It’s just a little strange to observe.

  Flowers are not these placid, exemplars of stillness that one supposes.  They fidget.

They merely do so on a time scale unfamiliar to human perception.  Drawing helps reveal it.  Cezanne asked, “Does an apple move?”  Well, friend, he never would have asked that question concerning a tulip.  Believe me, they move.

tulip drawing

Hold on a minute, I was certain the contour was over here ….

Green Pitcher with Flowers

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Visits to the thrift store are staples of an artist’s still life experience.  I like thrift shops not merely because they are thrifty, but because they are the opposite of trendy.  They preserve the past, and often that past they preserve is a peculiarly ordinary and everyday past.

Finding the green pitcher was one of those wonderful thrift store discoveries that every flea market aficionado loves.

The pitcher has no value in a monetary sense, but it is visually rich.  It’s one of those objects that lends itself to numerable interpretations. Placing it into this still life gave the flowers a new character.  I had been portraying the same hardy flowers over the course of several days (it is amazing how long well-tended cut carnations will stay fresh).

The green becomes a factor.  The green of the pitcher, colored like a grassy lawn, brings its own associations of spring, evoking the sense of a landscape where flowers bloom.  Of course this vase has its own porcelain flowers, too, ones that decorate its waist.  A bright gold-yellow cloth and variegated violet and pale linen-colored cloth behind the flowers create a light-filled scene.

Green Pitcher with Flowers is a pastel painting measuring 15 1/4 x 21 inches.

 

finding the fish

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A close up view of the fish drawing is pure abstraction.  You can hardly tell there’s a fish there except for a bit contour — that along with being told — does vaguely produce a minimum of fishiness.  I am an abstract artist — in some respects.  Someone told me this, one of my insightful students.  I wasn’t even aware.

Why do I like the scrawl of the crayon more than the specific features of the fish itself?  Well, I only like them better in some pictures.  In other pictures I’d be quite content to imitate the look of a koi sliding through the water. But here the energy of crayon markings in bright colors has gotten the better of me.  The markings capture some of the alacrity of koi energy.

There’s still fish there.  And it matters too that they’re fish.

This detail occurs in the giant rehearsal drawing.  I reworked it based on some random lights and shadows that fell on the drawing when I was outdoors photographing it.  Here’s a picture of it indoors with the tool box and step stool to give a sense of its actual size.

drawing indoors