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 …
I set up elaborate still lifes for paintings. Even when I’m painting something else, it’s fun to see the still life sitting there on the table. I think to myself that everyone ought to have a still life table for the fun of having the things to look at and to put into interesting arrangements — whether you’re an artist doesn’t matter. Rearranging the items on the still life table could become a catalyst for rearranging things in your life (I’ve heard of some kinds of psychotherapy that use a similar tactic). Or maybe it’s something to do to nurture one’s inner decorator or architect.
In truth, though, everyone already has still lifes arranged all throughout their houses. We just don’t call them by that name. The shelf where I keep still life objects is a still life set up in its own right. I put the things on the shelf in ways that cram as many items on the shelf as possible, but the arrangement has its own unintended charm. I should paint that some time. And everyone has a corner of a room — kitchens are notorious — where a bunch of things sit in haphazard arrangements that echo the things’ uses in the lives of the home’s inhabitants. Other places to find the wonderful, revealing haphazard still life include the insides of closets, the work desk, the bathroom shelf, inside cabinets and spaces under beds.
All those compartments have a beautiful charm — are like entries in a diary telling us truths about the quiet spaces of living.
Flowers are a traditional subject, however, in traditional still lifes and so I paint them often. Moreover the flowers are organic in form and thus connect the inside and outside worlds. Nature made the flowers (and the gourd too in this still life above) and human beings made the rest in the still life above with the striped cloth.
17 x 23 inches, pastel on sanded paper, available.
In a little vase of flowers you can find so many things — the stability of gravity, the beauty of light, the profusion of nature, a riot of incident — they are all there. Even in the small compass of a little bouquet, there’s so much to see. A little vase of flowers is a microcosm of all of nature.
Pastel on sanded paper, 11 x 10 inches. Available.
I produced these during the night shift and spent a cheerful night that way. “The earth laughs in flowers,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Pastel, 18.5 x 14 inches.
Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir. — Henri Matisse
(There are flowers everywhere for whoever really wants to see them.)
Some of the flowers that are everywhere are actual flowers. The still life flowers came from the grocery store. Some flowers are artifacts, like the ones painted onto the vase. Some of the beautiful things that fill one’s twenty-four hours are flower-like, or metaphorical flowers, as being things that bloom and fade but which are replaced by new, similar bits of loveliness — ideas, memories, moments of insight in the process of blooming and fading — all part of a beauty-wending path of being and unbeing. But even when the flowers fall, the real flowers, they are still lovely.
Pastel. 20 x 15 inches. Available.
The flowers are surrounded by light, light like a blanket, the light that is everywhere. The colors are soft and the senses muffled. A bouquet can be a state of mind. Are flowers remembering the vault of sky that hangs above them?
Pastel, 18 x 15 inches. Available.
The still life with flowers
has got a new frame. I may continue tweaking the image — still figuring that out — but it has its frame so that in all changes going forward they will harmonize with each other.
Here it is below crammed into the studio. Sitting above it is probably the next thing that’ll make the trip to Georgetown Frame Shoppe, the pastel koi.
Peter did a fabulous job on the corners of this beautiful molding.
I have a still life going, but I can’t show it here yet. These flowers are very shy, too shy to expose to light. They are shade-loving flowers. I make a grisaille of them using only black, white and Naples yellow. Later there will be colors. But I begin with a drawing-in-paint. It’s a bit like this pencil drawing above, which I copied from Jan Bruegal — like this in hints of gold and silver though my flowers have an entirely different personality.
The flowers are an alter-ego. They symbolize the way of being in the center of one’s own life, and having put oneself into a vase, watered one’s feet, having sought nourishment from air, from gravity’s pull, from the sun, from the rain washing over one’s face. You put yourself into a kind of stance, a spot, that frankly says “this is me.” That part, though very strange to admit, is necessary for being human — this having to confront the world with this identity that each one has. Here I am. I am on display (somewhat) but more mysterious than anyone ever knows. Mystery to oneself as well. And each one is thus ….
I was supposed to paint today, but I never got the lid off the paint tubes. Instead I just had to draw. I am drawing the stuff that I am going to paint — that I have already started painting. But before I even did that, I took my walk. Did my “walk” drawings.
Have a little notebook to carry. Now just for the record, these were not made with the favorite pen. It’s a very nice pen that I used, but was not the favorite. The favorite pen stays behind when I walk.
Made a couple little “detail” scribble thingys.
One of these, surely, ought to be turned into a postage stamp. Is about the right size. Wouldn’t you want to put this on your envelop?
Then back at the ranch, I drew some more. My flowers are so patient.
They’re also very cheerful. Or maybe it was me that was cheerful.
Got the vase to stand for one alone, too.
After that, the grand finale … for today anyway.
I just posted some little flower drawings I did today. It’s interesting to compare these small drawings with some very large drawings that I’ve done in the past. These are the older, large drawings above. If you click on the blog heading you can see these in comparison with the new drawings I did today.
I guess I must really like flowers.