the idea of the structure

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So far my painting follows the structure set forth in Bonnard’s picture which I emulate. And notwithstanding my window shopping, I seem to be using his window — at least for the present.  The horizontal and vertical elements of Bonnard’s window are an essential component of his painting’s structure.  Of course, the real structure of mine is as yet unresolved.  I’m looking for it, and I’m hardly even started.

I made the study above a year or two ago with the aim of using it in a variation on the motif of flowers on a table sitting in front of a window.  I recall that the light was changing rapidly and I just decided impulsively to see if I could make a fast drawing with oil pastels.  Some element of the colors still beckons and those sinewy lines of the tree that’s up against the house.  The tension between the squares of the window panes and the curvy trees and the colors, they all hint at something.  I don’t know what.

For much art, getting the perspective right is significant for the sake of realism.  In Bonnard’s art the flying off askew of perpendicular and horizontal lines obeys a visual physics all its own.  You don’t get there by constructing perspective lines or by assiduously drawing the architecture as it is.  You have to find the lines through sensibility the way that ants follow pheromone trails.

I was having trouble drawing a door many years ago.  Just couldn’t figure it out.  So I poured through my Bonnard books until I found a door of his.  Simply looking at his image showed me the solutions I needed.  They weren’t elements of perspective.  They were ideas about what to describe and what to forget about.  My door is as wobbly as his, but it serves its pictorial purpose — it’s a passage way into the pictorial outdoors — or from realm to realm.

open door

the Big Tidy Continues

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The household reorganization continues, and it brings many joys.  Marie Kondo in her book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” recommends that you begin the big toss by starting with the easy things — starting first with clothes.  I did that earlier this week, and it was marvelous to get rid of old items.  I’ve trimmed down to essentials.  Many things are going to the dumpster and many to the thrift store.

But I have also rediscovered many wonderful old things.  Kondo, who is a great appreciator of art, has directed her book toward the non-artist public so she doesn’t address the whole still life question.  Clearly artists face a more than ordinary temptation to hoard stuff.  So I take her basic principles and merely apply them to this other category of things.  But going through the clothes, a few things have now transferred from “clothes” to “still life cloth.”  Some of those transfers are quite just because these are things that truly do “spark joy.”  Now the future joy will no longer be in the wearing but in the spectacle of seeing the colors and patterns behind various still life objects.

Nonetheless, the clutter gradually and steadily recedes.  New spaces and opportunities appear.  These are joyful days.  I reencounter many memories.  I discover new possibilities.

I seem to discard things and get ideas in their stead.  I become rich in ideas.  And I love ideas!  So I am indeed quite rich now.  Isn’t it marvelous?

[At the top of the post, one of the early paintings I encountered again.  I also retrieved the mustard colored cloth (actually a satchel) that appears in it.  The cloth will be making new appearances in the days ahead.]

plans postponed

We’ve had a lot of rain.

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I began a little still life from the objects stored on the shelf. They were not set up to be “the still life,” I just store them on the shelf. But each time I look at them, their arrangement beckons. The other day I started a drawing in low light. The photograph below shows the objects but not the lighting which is too slight for my photography.

shells on the shelf

I love being in a slightly darkened room, drawing things I like. But the rain has taken away so much sun that I cannot work on this any further today.

studio today

I even had a still life I was doing from life in sunny light and I haven’t worked on it in weeks. All the still life objects have a layer of dust on them. But as diligent as one would like to be, you cannot fight Nature.

She has set her heart on rain, so rain it will be. Perhaps I should start portraying landscapes of rain.

As for today, and its faintly realized still life, the other thing I like is the arrangement of things as they’re stumbled upon. To discover the composition while making it, while looking at it — while staring over a length of days of idle thought. I picked a sheet of Canson pastel paper. It is the size it is. I had no idea how much of the scene even to include, had no notion where the edges would be. I just began drawing that first sea shell that I particularly love and let the other things gather round it.  I didn’t even know where to place the sea shell on the sheet. I just began.

I don’t know what it will all look like when it’s finished. And of course I don’t know when it will stop raining, when the light will come back.  This is why it’s good to have many projects. Eventually one will come off.