The dark blue compotier has been the subject of many drawings lately — this because it occupies such a prominent place in the Big Painting that’s in the works. However, I wasn’t aware how much I’ve drawn it. I think I must be drawing it in my sleep, too. It seems to border on obsession!
Well, I suppose there are worse things to be obsessed about ….
I love the lattice work in this object. It totally fascinates me. I particularly love it in the form of a cast shadow, but the light wasn’t coming from the right direction in the latest drawings to observe the shadows. In the drawing at the top, of which the above is a detail, the widest part of the basin measures 15 inches across which is two inches wider than the actual object.
I was nervous about starting, but I have begun putting the bouquet of flowers into the Big Painting. They take up a lot of space and occupy the central most part of the canvas so I know I need to broadly determine their forms first.
In the beginning I just locate them in generalized shapes. Later I have to paint individual flowers — or more accurately, I have to include the smaller, individual patches of paint.
I was nervous, but I’m over the jitters. Now it’s just paint, paint, paint.
I made a drawing of the compotier with lemons for the big painting. This quick drawing is on an 18 x 24 inch sheet of Strathmore drawing paper made using Neopastels. I had already made one study of the compotier in oil paint — and I’ll make others. Today’s light isn’t even right. I just want enough information to get the contours at least close enough for jazz. This one is close — still not right though it will be enough for me to use to paint some of the lay-in tonight.
The study in paint was more accurate in some respects, but it’s seen from the wrong angle. I set up a partial still life and also looked rather more closely at Bonnard’s image (I’m emulating Bonnard’s painting The Dining Room) and I find that I should be standing up when looking at the bowl. I was sitting for both the painting and the drawing, though I sought to prop myself up a bit higher for the drawing using a stool and pillows.
In any case I like the further engagement with the subject. It’s very satisfying simply to follow its lines and colors with the crayons.
As perhaps you surmised from the title, I have been making studies. These are paintings that you don’t paint to finish — you just paint them to paint. I might finish them. I might not. They might be sketchy. They might be overdone with paint. It can be anything at all. (Which makes working on studies a blast.)
The only point of the study is to have rich visual contact with the thing being studied. So this is the first pass at the large blue compotier with lemons.
I made quick first sketches of some other objects as well.
I’m not sure at this stage where anything will go in the actual painting. And I don’t plan to be fastidious with it either. I hope to work on the large painting with as much freedom as with these little studies — though I will have had many rehearsals of various sorts to inform my painting when I get to the big canvas.
In the lower corner of the study above, you’ll see the beginnings of a porcelain basket. You can find the actual basket at the link below. And, if you want to buy the basket, you can! Better still, if you decide that you want to buy the basket so that you can send it to me — leave me a comment and I’ll provide my address and hire the security guard …. It’s just a little bit pricey ….
Link to the basket:
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sometime or other in the early 1990s I made a group of flower paintings. Each was painted in one session. Lemons of varying quantity offered a counterpoint to the violet of the lilacs. This one has a bouquet sitting on the white enamel top of the stove. To the right the burners are visible with black grill patterns.
The colors of the pictures are so different from the way I use color now, and yet looking back at them, I can see how they created a path to my present.
Some of the organization seems almost Oriental to me in the angular simplicity, the outlined forms, in perspective that tips forward, and in the overt use of negative spaces. I was very affected by the paintings of Van Gogh at the time so I probably got the Asian influence through him. Like many the artists of his generation active in France during the 19th century, he loved Japanese prints.
If I sound like I’m describing someone else’s painting, well in a sense I am. The painting feels that way. Only slowly do the memories return.