I put flowers into the bouquet last week. I think it has enough flowers now. I put flowers into the decoration behind the bouquet too. I worked some on every inch of the painting making little alterations in this and that.
Now everything is in the painting, but everything still needs tweaking. This large still life — it measures 48 x 36 inches, is “resting” while the paint dries. And I’m working on something else in the interim. Then it will get its tweaking. And then …
The last time I bought flowers I decided to draw them with oil pastel. It’s the easiest medium for me to use — very direct — just grab a sheet of paper, open the box, begin.
I made this drawing and the next on Strathmore 400 series 18 x 24 inch notebook sheets. That makes the flowers approximately life size. Drawing same size provides an interesting sensation as well — you can feel very connected to the thing when you draw it life size.
Now I find these drawings become helpful when I need flowers for a flower painting. More and more I find myself doing some of the flower pictures from composites. And when I need individual flowers to put into a painting, I can turn to these drawings.
That fact, in turn, makes me want to draw more flowers — definitely a virtuous circle ….
Different painting on the easel today. Yesterday’s painting was a large still life. I put paint on nearly every square inch of its 48 x 36 inch surface. Yesterday’s paint surface is tacky so while that one dries, I take up this smaller painting. I like switching from one painting to another. It keeps my thoughts lively.
I’m working from drawings, but rather than use the actual drawings I find it more convenient to use my computer —
And there are cheerful things in the studio to look at whenever I look up from my work.
But here’s the guest of honor. The painting is in a middle phase. Lots of stuff is already there, but everything needs to be gussied up.
I was saying in the previous post that my current still life is in part an attempt to emulate Pierre Bonnard’s painting. His way of placing objects, his uses of arbitrary colors — altered, enhanced colors — the ambiguities of his art are all things that I notice and wonder about.
My painting — even without a still life set up to look at — is still perhaps more grounded in actual appearances than his. I’m not sure what I want from him. Or what I want from myself. I’m figuring it out.
Here’s how the painting looked yesterday in the studio.
The last few days I’ve been working on a large still life painting. It’s in the in-between state — a kind of messy place where some elements seem well realized and other features are inchoate. I seem to have settled on colors and positions but I’m not sure they won’t change.
It’s a new way of painting for me because usually I’m working from a motif that I can look at whereas in this painting I am working from drawings, from direct observation of some of the objects in isolation and from old photographs taken at different angles from the motif I’m painting.
And I’m working from an idea, too, of wanting to emulate Bonnard my hero while also wanting to do my own thing.
The painting has a ton of texture.
I like doing new things. Not sure where this one’s going, but the journey pulls me along. I work on one section at a time.
There’s so much stuff that it’s like working on several paintings within the painting.
Some of it doesn’t quite make sense, so for instance, I’m not sure what to think about my out-of-kilter stacked boxes. That’s one of the Bonnard quotes. If you let the perspective drift — “just because” — because Bonnard did, what will that mean? What does it mean in Bonnard’s painting? I don’t know.
I’m not expressing myself well. I think it’s because I really don’t know where any of the picture is going. It’s a strange mental place in which to be. I don’t mind it, though, not at all.
Indeed, it feels like I’m learning something about painting that I’ve wanted for a long time to explore.
I feel like a painting tourist. I’ll be content to walk around inside the picture’s world and gawk!
It will be interesting for me to look back at this post and compare wherever the painting ended up going with what it was like here in the middle.
I have been looking for butterflies without much success. We used to have a garden that attracted butterflies, but not this year. And the few I have happened upon accidentally have flitted away before I could fetch my camera. They are known for their flitting.
However, in the absence of actual butterflies, I see no reason why one couldn’t invent one’s own. So now I’m hunting things that are like butterflies and the first items that have answered my search are these two leaves that are early in their transformation, anticipating autumn.
Like the inventor in The Artist of the Beautiful, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s haunting short story, I’m out to create my own do-it-yourself flitter critter. My version of the quest is less haunting and romantic, more optimistic and can-do in spirit. But mine is also less actual in yearning for painting is illusory from the outset — my quest more so, is unreal two-fold, an illusion of an illusion.
The difficulty one encounters in trying to paint dreams is that often you cannot remember them. Dream memory is exceptionally fugitive. That feature of itself draws in a certain scientific interest (for those who study dreams) because it’s so startlingly different from ordinary perception. While you will most probably forget what you did this morning over the course of a few days, you are most unlikely to forget it seconds after it happens. But how often has one awakened from a dream only to see it seem to disintegrate even as one watches?
Some dreams last in memory and others don’t. Even what distinguishes the one sort of dream from the other is unknown. But while dreams cannot be counted on to furnish stable material for art, the process that one’s mind uses to dream is most probably accessible — to some extent — in a waking state.
I’m searching for some random things to include in certain pictures that are in the works. I say the things are random, but I only mean that they’re random in the way that dream elements often seem to come in bizarre forms. And one thing clearly connects to another as though by some great law of causality. But when you tell the dream to someone, it seems to make no sense at all. I am putting things into pictures just because, and wondering afterwards if the stream of consciousness leads somewhere.
Your dreams, O years, how they penetrate through me! (I know not whether I sleep or wake.) — Walt Whitman, Years of the Modern
This small painting Sea Flower will be on exhibit beginning this week in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, at the Torpedo Factory. It combines two of my favorite things — a Queen conch seashell and my favorite floral cloth.
Here’s another view of the cloth, a detail from another painting.
The favorite floral cloth ends up in a lot of things.
In Sea Flower the two subjects almost blend together in a fairly abstract image. It was the camouflaging of the seashell in the painting that made me realize that the Queen conch is kind of a flower itself, a hard beautiful calcite flower.
The painting on exhibit is for sale. Inquire for details.