Fairfield Porter clearly liked all the same artists as I like — Bonnard, Matisse and Vuillard. It was fun happening upon this bright image that uses the same theme that I am also presently exploring: the still life in an interior before a window. Seeing this painting made me feel like I was getting a thumbs up from a great artist of my parents’ generation.
I need to get some more flowers so that I have some for the new painting. When I get them, it’s going to be wonderful making another painted study. While I was looking for something else I found these above by Bonnard. Found them at a wonderful site, link below.
I discovered the flowers while I was searching online for a painting from the book “Pierre Bonnard: Observing Nature,” the exhibition catalog for a 2003 show that took place in Australia. The painting is “The Green Path and Canal,” c 1919. Somehow looking at the picture made me wonder if the view through the window (in my painting) should be a storm. Bonnard’s painting is very dark and ominous looking. We’ve been having lots of storms lately. Summer storms can be so incredibly beautiful for color. Then there’s the further heightening of contrast between indoor and outdoor, warm and cool, man and nature.
It’s not that I want to imitate the picture that I cannot show you here. It’s just the source for an idea that popped into my head, which I’m not even sure I’ll use at long last. An idea about blue-green and darkness.
I’m putting violet around the edges of the picture.
To get back into the thought world of the flower wall painting, I’ve decided to make studies of various sections of it. Here’s a study for the clump of hydrangea flowers made using Neopastel (Caran d’Ache) on a sheet from a 14 x 17 Strathmore 400 series pad.
I have some pictures available in reproductions at Fine Art America. And the Fine Art America website has introduced a feature that makes it easier to imagine the image hanging in a room. With their new feature, you can get a sense of how the image size you’ve chosen might look in an actual room. All that’s left is to imagine how it will look in your room and in your life.
This is my crazy little practice painting. I just pile up paint on it. Measuring 8 x 10, it’s already gone through a second swipe and there’ll be a third, maybe a fourth, maybe more.
Last session I painted in very low light using a limited palette of teal, orange, brilliant yellow, primary magenta, thalo blue, and white. I couldn’t see the colors properly, which was interesting, plus there’s a blue curtain over one window that creates pale bluish light in the morning.
So it was interesting. I love to play around with color — with the colors on the canvas and with my own color perception.
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.
The crepe myrtles are blooming right now. All over the region they are in fullest flower, some trees are covered with blossoms. I have always loved them from my earliest childhood. My mind connects them to the many journeys to North Carolina to visit my Grandmother back when parts of North Carolina were still rural and wild. I remember the heat and an enormous landscape, a quiet that overflowed with insect noise.
We all have different sources of nostalgia, but I think that sometimes in art we communicate the nostalgia inside the painting — even if your summers had radically different referents — perhaps you can feel the nostalgia as a force in itself and find in a picture something that returns you to a place of special meaning in your heart.
I painted this landscape a couple years ago. And it’s today’s featured work for my new website at Fine Art America where reproductions of some of my pictures are sold.
My daughter and I set out for Capitol Hill yesterday in the late afternoon, she to walk and me to draw. Someone has a beautiful garden right off East Capitol Street, full of zinnias. I had noticed the flowers on a previous walk. So I tossed the old aluminum easel into the back of the pickup, assembled some oil pastels and off we went.
The mosquitoes didn’t start biting until really near twilight so I wasn’t munched too much. However I was concentrating so much on my drawing — how hard do YOU concentrate on your tasks? — that the whole bottom of my right leg was soaking wet before I realized that the gardener’s sprinkler was reaching my location. Is that concentration or what? Maybe it’s possible to concentrate a bit too much. A little less concentration and I might have avoided the soaking …
That discovery seemed like a good cue to switch motifs.
I drew the yellow ones until the mosquitoes started dining. Then it was clearly time to quit. We took a bit of a walk afterwards for exercise, my daughter and I, and I staked out some more locations to draw.
Capitol Hill residents are assiduous gardeners. There’s many lovely places to choose from — almost too many — it makes the choices harder.
These are drawings I may use in something or other, but I make them just to be outdoors drawing. I have been buying flowers for still life. And I have some lovely fake ones that I use also. Sometimes I take a flower from a photograph or an old master image. It’s fun to mix it up.
If I decide to do dog portraits, Capitol Hill residents are prosperous in that department too. While I was drawing, every manner of canine imaginable was being walked in a kind of impromptu, nightly, canine parade. That would be fun — not sure the owners would have the patience to wait for a full portrait though …