on the wall: Pickle Jar of Flowers

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I just learned that my pastel “Pickle Jar of Flowers” has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming “Mark” exhibit at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.

Here’s how the gallery describes the exhibit:

Pencil marks, painting strokes, woodcuts, or a dynamic editorial eye are all marks artists use to create their works. Mark-making has been associated with conventional pen, pencil, and paper, but artists make marks on ceramics, plates, fabric, and film, with tools ranging from sticks to scrapers to pixels. Artists can also be marked with memories, conditions, or experiences that shape how their artwork is made. Specific tools, techniques, and the artist’s physicality are embedded in every work of art. This exhibit will show the viewer how the artist’s mark can be the most important element in transforming the ‘blank canvas’ into an image. Artists are also encouraged to provide a brief statement about their ‘mark’.  The curator is Charles Jean-Pierre.

The exhibit will be on view from September 5th through October 1st with a reception taking place on Thursday September 14th from 6:30-9:30 pm.

A print of the painting is available for purchase here:

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/pickle-jar-of-flowers-aletha-kuschan.html

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the flowers are resting

yellow still life last week aug

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 …

when I need flowers

flowers drawing 1a

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.

flowers drawing 2

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 ….

bouquet of flowers in a green vase

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I put all the flower bouquets into simple settings at the time.  Now I put them into complicated settings, with lots of color and patterned cloths.  But I like these simpler works, and I did do something like this one when I was painting flowers with pastel last autumn.

The one on the right was painted sometime in the early 1990s, while the one on the left was painted last autumn. They are not so far apart in design — though they are decades apart in years.  Thus it goes to show that my youthful self is still residing inside my head.  That’s how I’m interpreting the similarity — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Obviously I am young at heart.  Here is the proof.

the curve

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For some reason I posed these flowers on a round table.  The blue cloth seems to have been the only still life cloth I owned!  Here it is again.  But I like it.  I must also have liked it a lot then to have used it so frequently.  It reminds me of the blue of the sky.

This time the profusion of flowers was crazy. I was again worried about being able to paint all of them, but evidently I managed.  And I also found a way of becoming mesmerized by the visual activity of the glass’s interior where the stems bunch together.

This was my favorite of the still lifes I painted in that era, and it’s still the favorite I suppose.

lilacs, lemons, chrysanthemums & carnation

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I was already someone who sought to find the motif through several variations of a subject.  Another bouquet is accompanied by four lemons.  (Other pictures had two lemons.)  The yellow lemons offer a visual foil to the violet lilacs.

This bouquet has other flowers besides lilacs — chrysanthemums (symbolic of long life) with also a single carnation, and possibly also a tea rose. The whole bouquet sits once again on the pale blue cloth now in front of the white wall.

I was learning from looking at Van Gogh’s paintings so the blue cloth has swirls of brushstrokes in waves creating shadows.  All the forms are delineated, as in a drawing that has been colored.

lilac & lemon variations

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The blossoms are heavier than in the other painting of the same theme, and they are more abundant.  This horizontal spreading out of the flowers was something I loved — which I still love — and it reminds me of the shape of a tree.  In this case the lilacs are also a little bit tree-like in the expressive, transparent shadow they cast.  Once again, there are two lemons.

The color of the background wall was kind of a big deal in my family when I was growing up.  I can’t recall the color name.  But we liked it as an interior wall color.  It was almost our official living room color.  By the time this picture was painted my parents had moved to another state where they retired.  I stayed behind.  And the walls of the living room were still covered with the official hue.

lilacs from a springtime long ago

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The light is interior light.  You might notice that it’s warm on the top of the leaves. Nevertheless, the shadows are transparent.  Outdoor light might have been coming into the room too.  I painted this so long ago that I don’t remember.

There were several bouquets that I set up on the same pale blue cloth.  Lemons form a counterpoint in them, their yellow providing chromatic opposition to the violet of the lilacs.  I remember that I liked describing the forms of the lemons with strong outlines.  With these I was particularly pleased because they look solid.

You can see some of the warmth of the interior light in the blue cloth too.  A yellowish cast reflects off the blue in places.

I felt like these flowers have almost a personality.  They seem cheerful.  Plural.  Definitely an ensemble of happy lilacs.  The same bush that produced these lilacs finished blooming only a day or so ago.  So many years later!

crystalline clarity

It was a favorite glass, and I took flowers from the yard along with some we had purchased and plopped them into the glass of water.  Put it on a white cloth.  And I painted it.

I had to “reconstruct” the tip of the green fond that bends over on the left because (when I wasn’t looking) the cat jumped up and chewed the end off of it.

new flowers

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I’ve been working on flowers a lot lately.  This pastel is the most full of things of the several pastels that I’ve done so far.  It measures 30 x 22 inches on Canson “touch” paper. The curvature of the lens distorts the image a little (visible especially at the upper right), but you can get the idea.

I’ve been buying fresh flowers, arranging and rearranging them for the several pictures.  It’s nice to have fresh flowers around.  The persimmons are from the garden.

I bought the table about two years ago at a thrift store.  I was “in the market” for a good still life table at the time, but figured I’d have to settle for department store tv dinner tables because of the expense involved in purchasing actual furniture.  However, when I visited the local thrift store looking for vases and other still life items, the first thing I saw was this table whose edge you see on the lower left.  It was very inexpensive! I recognized my destiny in the instant! It was kismet!  I left immediately.  Returned thirty minutes later with the family pick up truck and bought the desk and brought it home!  It’s gotten a lot of use since that day, but this is the first time that the edge of the table itself has peeked out of the picture.  Usually it’s covered with cloths.  There’ll be more peeking in the future, rest assured.

Someday I’m gonna go full Cezanne with this table …