After working on a watercolor version of the two objects, I decided to do some more painting on a little oil study I made on paper. I made dramatic changes to the fish vase, and sometime soon I’ll have to work on the frog tea pot also.
All these recent pictures are studies for a painting — a large still life — that’s in the works.
Here’s a detail of the fish’s face and a similar passage from today’s watercolor.
I worked some more on today’s “morning coffee drawing. While the features are a little lopsided, the frog and flowers appear on the frog tea pot’s surfaces. And the fish vase gets darker. And I begin thinking about the pattern on the cloth a little. I posted an earlier version of the drawing already — the “morning coffee part.” Coffee was long over as I continued working on this watercolor into the afternoon.
I’m getting well acquainted with my still life objects.
I like looking at the accidental features of the watercolor marks in details such as these. And they suggest ideas for ways of portraying these objects in the large oil painting for which this watercolor is a study.
I think I might switch now to the oil study I began for the painting, and work more on the fish vase and frog tea pot in it — let some of the watercolor ideas spill into the oil study. This is how I left the oil study. Clearly there’s plenty more things that I can do with it.
I like switching back and forth between media, letting each one suggest things peculiar to its material character.
I made a first drawing of the lion’s head. It’s a decoration on a vase in the picture. And the lion’s head has deep, echoing meanings for me. I dreamt about a path guarded by lion statues once, eons ago. And of course everyone’s favorite artist Johannes Vermeer has lion’s head finials in two of his paintings.
The lion vase is one feature of the painting that I’m joyfully anticipating. I will think my way through it many times, in various drawings. I merely whet my appetite here.
Today’s morning coffee drawing is a watercolor. I don’t know whether I’ll work on it more today or not. I drank all the coffee, and I need to begin today’s session with the big painting for which this is another practice.
Before I began the watercolor, I drew the two things a little in a notebook where many of the ideas for the painting develop.
I am redrawing the same features again and again. It’s like music that I’m striving to learn. The objects are the music.
In a careless drawing like the one above, you can really think aloud. The contour of the green fish vase goes right through the frog tea pot. And the tea pot’s spout was originally about a half inch to the left. I simply put the lines down where they seem to go. This drawing records random thoughts about lines and their positions and about passages of light and dark, though the tones don’t conform to the scene overall — that would mean too much drawing. I’d run out of ink. My wrist would be killing me!
I got the frog’s face in one of these studies. I think this is the first time the frog’s face has materialized so clearly. Hopefully everything will appear at last — in the painting for which these are the rehearsals.
I’m focused on one painting for a while, one that I’m not ready to picture here. It’s a largish still life. I make small practice paintings concerning parts of it. The picture of two bottles on a varicolored cloth is one such example. I brushed this together quickly and so far it provides just a kind of rehearsal for the forms. But I plan also to use some of these studies to test out color and drawing ideas before I try them in the actual painting. That way if something clearly isn’t effective, I’ll know. Hence more stuff needs to be added to this little pochade for its experiment to be complete.
I like the breezy, sketched appearance of this little study. But when it dries I will begin indicating the pattern on the cloth. During that phase, who knows but I might completely wreak this picture. Or not. I’ll find out. In any case it’s practice so it’s role is to provide me with information.
It’s a bunch of fun to paint. A lark. I love little things like this. It’s 9 x 12 on Arches oil paper.
I discovered that the cloth I’m using in my still life in progress was turned wrong-side out when I originally set up the objects. I just assumed that I had arranged it with the right side up. So the colors are muted and I’ve decided to revert back to that original intention. I made the discover while drawing from a photo I have of the original set up. I was waiting in the car for my daughter and occupying the time with drawing when I looked closer at the picture and noticed the color differences. I made note of it in my diary at the time and remind myself here too! Meanwhile, back in the studio …
one still life is sitting in front of another, so I decided to draw them to pass the time and get warmed up for working. I think it’s amusing trying to untangle the jumble of things available to look at in drawings like these. If you care to join in, a photo of the jumble appears below:
Also got to thinking about the eye on the fish vase. It reminds me of a detail of a drawing that I made years ago (with some help from my daughter who was very young at the time). I want to do more with this eye when I get to the big painting. Not sure how that will go, but I note that it might prove interesting.
I have finished the first stage of my study for a painting that’s in the works. All the running design is there, which is the main passage that I’m wondering about. Having painted it once, I can contemplate better how its perspective ought to go. I won’t be approaching it scientifically — no point perspective for me — too much a recipe for headache for an innumerate like me.
Instead just seeing the pattern that I’ve painted, I’ll figure out something that I like, some version of what I see that fits together with the other components of the painting in question.
An earlier stage of this study appears below.
I don’t know why it’s so important for me to sneak up on my paintings, though I wanted some practice painting the elaborate cloth that rests on the table.
I get ideas along the way, some of which I’ll record here so that I’ll have a reminder I can access if perchance I forget what I was doing …. So the black in the design above I have varied a little using four mixtures — mars black & chrome green; mars black & quinacridone purple; yellow ochre & mars black; and mars black & thalo blue (red shade with some white). In each case it lightens and gives the black a chromatic base.
It’s hard as I paint the study (9 x 12 on Arches oil paper) to see all the color effects because the light in the room is rather low. So taking the picture outdoors to photograph it served a dual purpose: make a record of its progress and see what it actually looks like!
The pink part of the pattern is lighter than necessary. I decided to start light and adjust the color going forward. I might experiment with using glazes for some of the color adjustment — not sure yet.
In the actual painting another bottle sits next to this dark blue bottle. But that’s okay. One thing at a time. The other bottle has a hole in the center.
Today I’m making an oil study of the fish vase and have just begun indicating the object that’s beside it — the frog tea pot. An earlier post showed the fish vase in watercolor and again in oil pastel. This time I’m using oil paint. Each medium helps one think about visual features in different ways.
All that plus they say that practice makes perfect.
I like looking at the changing lights across the surface of the vase.
An earlier version of this oil study looked like this:
something that I found at the thrift shop, is a favorite object for me. I have been drawing it today in watercolor and oil pastel, making drawings for a painting. Green Fish Vase (I should call it GFV for short) has a prominent place in a still life I’m developing. These drawings are for practice and joy.
Both drawings are totally sloppy. I have been throwing color at this thing aggressively. I am thinking about shapes and colors, and I’m very untidy about it.
Both drawings are a little vague on the right hand side because in the painting something else will be sitting in front of Green Fish Vase. So the contour I draw here won’t actually find its way into the painting. But I like knowing the object well. The drawings are not just about the view in the painting. They are about this wonderful, clunky, imaginative vase of green glass in the shape of a fish.
The second drawing completes the notebook of the post prior. It uses the last sheet of paper.
I believe in opposites (a thing and its foil) as a good principle for learning.
My first drawing of the still life naturally focused on the objects. You see the stuff. You draw the contours around the stuff. But I was wondering now if maybe I’d get a better handle on the idea of the painting by looking more closely at the negative spaces. The only problem is that there are no negative spaces to look at — or maybe it’s ALL negative spaces ever since I disassembled the still life.
It’s a small room. Anyway, I didn’t want to be too dependent on the actual still life this time. And I wanted to travel in hero Pierre Bonnard’s shoes a bit. More about memory.
I guess now’s a good time to look at Bonnard again with the negative spaces particularly in mind.
I just wrote a post about that sort of thing – the spaces between spaces — a day or so ago. That’s probably why I’m thinking about it now. I was looking at the sketch for the still life and wondering how it would be to think about everything that I wasn’t thinking about when I drew it. The task is greatly complicated by the absence of the actual still life!
Nonetheless (never one to be deterred) there are other ways to think about the spaces between things, even when drawing from memory. I can put parts of the still life together temporarily. I can also just have a whack at drawing the stuff between the stuff (even from imagination) and see what new stuff emerges.