a big painting is just many smaller paintings stitched together

big painting on july 27

Well, the big painting is back.  If you recall how it looked when I left it and compared that stage to how it looks above, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.  However, the renewed work is a big deal in terms of painting problems and their solutions.  I stopped work because I didn’t know where to put the foreground items, namely the famous froggie teapot, the blue jay figurine, the seashell and the black teapot (temporarily ochre colored in the version above).  I drew them over and over, recall, and posted the drawings here.  And you weren’t the least bit bored to see froggie teapot and the blue jay drawn again and again and again and again and again, were you?!

It does pay off though.  Let me tell you, putting that seashell in that spot, for instance, was an order of magnitude easier for having drawn the object so many times.  So, now that the painting’s things have places, I feel that the rest of the painting can proceed.  The great irony is that I have no idea what exactly the painting is going to look like.  I just know now that these particular objects are going to sit in those locations.  That difference, however, is enough that I can continue.

And whenever I get stuck on matters of detail, can you guess what I’ll do?  More studies! (Secretly, of course, I love drawing the studies — don’t tell anyone.)

I have 2880 square inches to fill with colors, doesn’t that sound wonderful ….

From my blog, I see that I began this project around the end of May.  July is ending.  That’s not a bad time scale for a large picture.  See, there’s another virtue in blogging, it helps you keep track of the days and puts things into better perspective.


Anyway, the real painting begins.  Wish me luck!

Here’s another link to an early stage of the picture:


assembling the ideas – bit by bit

studio view 1

I set aside work on the large painting to begin some studies of flowers.  Since the vase of flowers will play such a prominent role in the picture, it’s a feature that I want to get sorted out early.  So I bought some more grocery store flowers and have begun making studies.  The one above has an indication of the striped cloth on the table and the pale colored Limoges vase that I found on the internet.  It’s the first of several practice paintings that I’m making.  I’m not sure yet what the flower arrangement will look like.  Indeed, I keep changing the still life — adding flowers as I happen to find new ones when I’m out shopping.

The study for the previous painting sits on the easel next to the new flowers.  I still haven’t finished the previous painting.  But I set it aside to let the paint dry.  In between tasks, I’ll go back to it.

I changed my mind

new vase Limoges pale (2)

I found a new Limoges vase online, and I’ve decided to use it instead of the pale white one with roses.  I just like this jaunty vase with handles better.  So I made a study of it using Neopastels and I’ll be using it to replace the main vase of the picture.

I have also decided to investigate using a second smaller vase to be sitting on the table a little closer in the foreground.  More on that development later.  I have an actual glass vase that I’ll use with real flowers.

Before I canned the white vase I made a little painted study of it, below right.

quick study

vase first white porcelaine

I need something I can take with me into the room where the painting is.  I use my computer periodically because that’s where the reference photo for the vase is — once again I’m using a picture from the internet, a vase that I cannot perhaps afford to buy even if it were available.  I use my computer until the battery starts sending out alarms that it needs its fainting couch.  As it calms and restores itself,  I use a drawing while as I block in the vase.  Here’s the world’s quickest drawing!  –because I need some reference while I put down the first layers of the painting.  The vase I’m using this time is white porcelain with roses (see the group below).

I’m going to be painting over layers and changing things as I go so I only need enough to get me started.  All the elements of this painting are very exploratory.  I paint inside the moment.

The white vase was preceded by the black vase.  Lots of vases.

new to do list

may 25 Limoges (2)

  • put something into each of the blue panels behind the flowers
  • adjust the curvature of the imagery on the vase near the roses
  • warmer red in the Sweet Williams on the left
  • add indication of the chrysanthemum on far left
  • pale the top of the cloth, and add elements of a bluer green (mixed warm/cool)
  • start messing around with the settled cloth elements — for color, as your mood instructs
  • fix that longer leaf on right (closer to the study)
  • more articulation in the white what’s-their-names flowers at top
  • figure out what patterns are sitting on the top of the hill
  • some time or other might want to do a couple drapery drawings … just because

Giving my brain some instructions.

Now, make it so.

  (As Star Trek fans will understand.)

the vase of flowers grows more sure

100_1502 (3)

Here’s how the painting looks on Friday night.  I put the study on a table beside the easel to make it easier to draw from.  The picture begins to feel more solid after a day of work.  I love painting that vase — and I’m not done yet.  The paint all over the canvas is very thick because I’m covering up parts of the earlier version.  There’s still lots of things to figure out, of course — like the entire bunched up green cloth that takes up the whole bottom half.

Here’s a closer view.  The painting measures 40 x 30 inches.

100_1505 (3)

What a fun day of painting, working on this picture.  You cannot look at blue and green all day with scattered red and yellow and violet and not be in a terrific mood.

Still quite a ways to go.  But I’m very glad with this stage.

new bouquet

bouquet night of 5-10

I bought more flowers yesterday, some Sweet Williams, to join the other bouquet I had already.  Again I placed them above the drawing of the Limoges vase.  And I produced the study above, painting until rather late at night.  This is the largest of the studies so far, and I am thinking about doing another study of the same motif.  Here’s the set up below:

new bouquet (2)


gearing up to paint

studies arranged around painting

I’m going to start putting some of the objects onto the canvas provisionally and see how it looks.  There’s so much missing information so it will be sketchy starting, and I’ll add things or make changes based on incoming ideas — as I look particularly for flower ideas and window ideas. The original notion was something like the drawing below:

owl flowers compotier window drawing.jpg

However, on this large canvas I’ll be adding more space around everything and I need to figure out what goes into that space.  The window is based upon a view from inside my studio, but I’m not sure whether I’ll use that idea or not.  Sometimes I think I want a more elaborate window (and I have at least one idea where I can find one).  Tomorrow I’m going window shopping — literally.

But then I note that last night at sundown the colors outside my studio window were amazing, so if I can figure out how to better interpret my own humble window perhaps I’d be wise to stick to my own resources.  We’ll see.

I know that I want to look at lots more flowers and flower arrangements before I commit to the flower shapes thus the initial idea is just a bough of flowers (like the outer silhouette of a tree).

As things now stand the painting will contain the flowers on a table before a window.  On the table will also appear the owl, a ceramic bird, a frog teapot, a black floral teapot, a seashell, and the fancy schmancy porcelain basket. The flowers are arranged in the fabulous Limoges vase.  The pattern on the table cloth is also a factor.  I need to decide which cloth I’ll use and begin studies for the cloth too.

My ever loyal dog wants to help me out so she’s trying to get some inspiration of her own which she plans to share with me.  And wow she’s got a sun beam streaming right straight for her doggie brain so maybe I’ll consult her as I solve my various pictorial questions.

lucy being inspired (3)

getting creative

limoge vase drawing with real flowers (2)

The painting that I’m working on develops through a composite process.  I don’t have an actual still life set up to paint.  Instead I make studies of individual objects and put them into a pictorial composition that is partly invented and partly based upon real still lifes past and future.  So, for instance I don’t know exactly what the bouquet of flowers will look like that will sit on a table in the picture.  I have begun auditioning flowers for the various roles.

I got these grocery store flowers and will be painting a little study of them.  I decided to put one of the Limoges vase drawings in front of the actual flowers to get a better sense of how the flowers would appear when arranged in the vase.  The Limoges vase drawings are based on a photograph I found on the internet from an auction site.



Last post featured a landscape painting on the easel and I thought I’d be working on it next.  But things have changed.  I have begun making new studies for a motif of flowers that has been floating through my head for some time and which already exists in the form of one “proto-painting.”

So here’s the Limoges vase that I’ve drawn before.  I’m drawing it again.  And will be painting it soon too.

Here’s the vase from before:

limoge vase before

And here’s what I wrote when I drew it before: