I had a Fine Art America site but I deleted it, And today I created a new Fine Art America account. I deleted the old one since my aim is the fill the world with original art rather than with reproductions. But the site is useful in other ways so I renewed my presence there — with a much smaller number of pictures — to use the site as an art tool.
I use a lot of tools to summon ideas. In the case of Fine Art America, it’s one of the places I use to envision works in large scale. It helps me as well as helps potential collectors to see how an image looks when it’s big (I like big art). The platform is only one of many tools I use for this purpose. I find “rooms” on the internet and insert my pictures, actual or simulated, into them, as here ….
Lots of things are tools. Notebooks, photographs, computer illustration programs all play a role. My favorite thing is simply to draw. I want to develop a drawing style that works well enlarged for original art.
Anyway, if you’re interested in the Fine Art America site, you can find it here. Aletha Kuschan Art (fineartamerica.com) The images will rotate: so as new things develop, older images will disappear.
Still life is a contemplative kind of painting. When you think about it, what does a still life offer? It’s simply a set of objects to gaze upon. Sometimes the objects may have clear symbolic meanings, but often — perhaps most of the time — the objects are just themselves. They might not even be fully themselves, depending upon how they’ve been painted. In the still lifes of my hero Matisse, sometimes the objects are caricatures of themselves, sometimes they are almost cartoon versions of things — bounded by heavy contour lines, generalized into broad colors.
To place overmuch attention to the acquisition of things is called “materialism,” in our culture (which has some uneasy feelings about its various economic successes). And yet we live in a world of objects, and we build our human nests (after a fashion) and fill them with things we think we need or that we cherish. And so still life painting puts the focus squarely upon the things. It offers up the quiet drama of things — or possibly a vision of sentimental attachments — or reflections of private life.
The paper horse was something I rediscovered while cleaning the attic, a relic of my daughter’s childhood when we routinely made things from paper. I brought it down and it almost instantly landed on the still life table. All the objects have some bit of sentimental energy in them (for me, possibly visible to the viewer too). But the objects on the table also seem to insist upon their abstract presence. They are simply and frankly things. Bound to the table by gravity, visible by the light they reflect, they simply are. So they hang there in space like planets revolving around a star or like the particles that physicists tell us make up the physical cosmos.
They have an abstract beingness. They just are. They are stuff. And what do artists do? They look at stuff and copy it into pictures.
Paper Horse measures 48 x 36 inches, is painted in acrylic paint on canvas.
I got a little crazy and painted something really big — or certainly big relative to the size of my studio. I don’t know what it is exactly. It was supposed to be a duck pond, but then this butterfly showed up. Sometimes you just go with the flow.
Notwithstanding its whimsical nature, I made lots of preliminary drawings for it because I just love to draw. And the drawings become like rehearsals. So for instance, the right hand abstract panel was rehearsed a few times. Here’s one of the versions:
It ends up being a separate painting on its own, which is vertical here but could as easily be horizontal. It lacks an solid up or down. It’s 36 x 18 inches.
I made a lot of drawings too. Some of them were studies for the flowers in the central flower panel.
Butterfly Emblem needs a little tiny bit of tweaking before it finds a new home. If you are interested in having its new home be your home — send me a message!
Not really this blue, but I cannot ever get the color correct. Mentally average all the various photos in your mind and maybe that will be somewhat like the actual canvas …
Anyway, I am taking pictures of the painting at various junctures just to remind myself how it has proceeded. I am SO GLAD that I have been keeping a chronicle of this painting (bloggers, cherish your blogs) because it helps me put many things into perspective: so for instance, it’s nice knowing that I began work sometime in May. This being the last day of July — and of course I took a break from the canvas while sorting out various ideas through drawings — I’d say that’s not bad for time management. I give myself a “gold star”!
Bonnard’s painting has a lattice design along the two far edges and I have indicated something like that on this canvas. I’m not really sure how this will go because his painting includes various things omitted from mine — most notably a spectral Marthe. Thus if I have a lattice pattern, it will be even less clear what it references than in Bonnard’s original. Perhaps it’s a design in wall paper? Anyway, I LOVE lattice patterns and have used them often in my art. I probably get the enthusiasm for lattices from Bonnard’s art (where they are everywhere — even in the foliage). So, I’m all for including it, but I have to figure out the how and why of it a bit more.
He also has patterns in the very topmost part of those edge sections, and I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll do yet. Even something like the stripes in the cloth is not straight forward. Oh, how I wish I could see his actual painting again! (It’s been 20 years.) Color changes all along the path of each stripe are possible things to fiddle around with so revisiting even just that one feature will be exciting. And changes to one element affect the everything else.
Frog teapot and the blue jay figurine need to be made really present. Ditto for the other objects. Lots of painting ahead. The whole scene visible through the window is as yet undetermined. But oh how I enjoy this….
I was going to be a koi painting, and it would have been horizontal. But now it’s a flower painting and it’s vertical. Here’s the canvas before it’s transformation — which is taking place these coming days.
I’m working on another large still life. Almost everything is inside the painting already, and yet the painting isn’t its things only; thus there’s still a lot of painting to paint. I add colors without a plan, thinking “this might look interesting here.”
Almost everything is there and yet it still seems to have more potential than I quite know what to do with.
Black can be a particularly challenging color to use. It is very bold and rich. It’s so absolute in value that it’s hard to create an atmospheric effect using it. The black in this painting is mostly composed of dark browns made from burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. It breathes a little. But I want the mystery of the very darkest background. In this painting and in some others, I have explored the sensation of an atmospheric deep shadow.
All the other elements serve some role in striving after that effect. Its size also participates in the experiment. It’s a largish picture, measuring 44 x 34 inches. I want to create a life-sized feeling of the space.
I find it difficult to work on a large still life from the motif because you see all the parts from different angles as you move around. And the whole canvas is too large to see everything all at once. So although I did begin the painting all at once and very spontaneously — as I get into the weeds of it I have to sort out parts one by one.
My first couple attempts to get the notebook on the left in correct perspective on the table went awry — in the painting itself and in a drawing I made as a study. Happily a painted study is getting me closer to where I want to be. I propped it up against the painting in the photo above. I needed to see how this change would look in the actual painting.
After painting out two compotiers that had appeared on the right hand side, I used a study that I had made a couple months ago to form the new right hand side of the painting — and I propped that smaller painting up against the canvas to get an approximate notion how it would look.
Soon, soon, soon, I’m going to resume work on this largish 48 x 48 canvas. I am chomping at the bit. And all the landscape painting that I’ve been doing in recent weeks is helping me think about these flowers.
Above is the crazy intermediate stage of a painting that just keeps getting more and more complicated. It’s the polar opposite of the floral still life I last posted. And it’s got 1,728 square inches of burgeoning hyperactivity. And I’m taking a wee little break from it just now. For a day or two …