big sketch

study (2)

Several times already I have drawn the objects that are going to appear in “the big painting” of previous posts.  I draw and redraw the objects.  Drawing them is like solving an enjoyable puzzle.  Each iteration reveals different facets of the objects.  Redrawing them is like rehearsing a part in a drama.  Soon when the time comes to put them actually into the painting, they will already seem very familiar in their shapes and forms.

I have a little table where the objects are stationed that simulates the expansive table portrayed in the painting. I shift them around into slightly differing relationships trying to find the one pattern that connects them well to each other.

objects on table photo2 small file

These aren’t permanent drawings.  They are instead big sketches.  Art ephemera.  The one above is on a 24 x 18 inch sheet. But they help me find the solutions I need.

contemplating planes

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The objects on the table would appear — I think — at slightly varying angles.  In Bonnard’s painting La salle à manger sur le jardin which this painting emulates, one comes upon the table as though standing in the room so that objects on the table are slightly below you.  In my painting, by contrast, the compotier and certain various other objects are not really sitting on the same plane.  And I guess I shouldn’t write that in my blog post because perhaps some observers wouldn’t notice unless one draws attention to it.

I am not being literal, though, about the objects.  The compotier has to be seen slightly from above or it looks wrong.  In contrast I think seeing the bottom level of objects in profile just somehow feels right.  So I’m going with my artistic intuition rather than attempting to assemble these things in true space.

When you walk into a room you look around, and you move through the space yourself.  This painting is large enough that it benefits from having a mobile quality.  So the objects sit in ways that perhaps relate to their being noticed at different points in time.

Below, my painting in progress on the left and its mentor by Pierre Bonnard on the right.


getting good help these days

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My studio assistant doesn’t look too happy.  He thought the job would pay more in dog biscuits than has proved to be the case.

In the background stands the work in progress.  I’ve taped a few more drawings to the canvas to gain a better sense of where some of the still life objects might go.

finding the positions

teapot position

It’s time to figure out where the other objects in the painting are going to go.  Since I don’t have an actual still life, I cannot just look at the motif and arrange things there in the set up.  Instead my painting develops from drawings — some that I make from actual objects and some that proceed from photographs since certain objects in the painting are not things that I own — like the Limoges vase and the porcelain basket.

I have to guess how large to draw things.  And some of the decision is based also on a deliberation about how big I want the thing to be.  Because I love the frog teapot so much I have placed it at the very bottom of the picture where if all goes well it will be especially visible to inspection.  Otherwise, my decisions are just hunches.  “Maybe this would look good here … maybe that over there.”

Not included, but in the works are at least a couple more objects: a ceramic figurine of a bird, a second much smaller vase with flowers and perhaps a Chinese teacup holding some tea.  I’m still figuring things out.

pulling out the big guns

hi def still life detail (2)

I had to take a high resolution photo of a painting for a prospectus, and while I had the pro camera out I took some pictures of the work in progress just for fun.  So the shot above is actually a small detail of a photo..  Ain’t technology wonderful?!  I usually use a now rather antiquated Kodak EasyShare for most of the blog’s photography.  It’s so ancient that you can’t buy the 2 GB chips very readily.  Of course I used to think — actually I still think — that the detail available on the old camera is amazing.

Well, here’s hoping I don’t break the internet with all the bytes. The above is a section of the shot below (whose total file size has been reduced).

hi def still life detail small file

You can see the weave in the canvas.

hi def still life detail (3)