Many times a bouquet of flowers will be arranged as though to get at a perfect order. I arrange the flowers when I paint them. But the random arrangement of weary flowers is lovely too. The flowers bunched along two sides of the vase leaving one green fond striving upward in space alone. That single leaf intersects the purple shadow that descends from the cloth behind the bouquet locking the composition together .
The striped cloth is a marvel to look at. I love to portray it. Its bands describe the shape of the space they occupy like a physics of color. The bands of green along the sides of the gourd running perpendicular to the bands in the cloth are Nature imitating art. Many colors are scattered through this picture and only the precision of their positions gives them balance. In a picture like this one, the only goal is to put each color exactly where it belongs. And then the rest is easy. The picture composes itself. And then the image resembles the things, like a mirror of life.
Striped Cloth with Flowers and Gourd is a pastel painting measuring 18 x 24 inches.
Bold yellow tea roses, a brilliant violet color in the background, a white and blue table cloth along with three bright orange, plump persimmons: these compose the scene with additional help from a jaunty white pitcher in the center that has a single pink painted rose decorating its rondure. Sometimes the colors and positions provoke a mood. This arrangement seemed provocative to me. It feels assertive. I thought the objects seem to speak. It is for each individual spectator to decipher life’s bold messages.
Tea Roses is a pastel painting measuring 20 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches.
The drawing sheet was 18 x 24 inches large. As you can see the shell took up much of that space, but the real shell is not — no queen conch could be — that large. It would be a monster of a queen conch that was that large.
So what is the shell that’s larger than life size? It’s like a dream of a seashell.
I had so much fun drawing this shell. Seeing the photograph brings back the memory so vividly. It was a blast. I had to enlarge the thought while I was drawing and I loved it. I had never drawn any of the shells large before. I’ve never done it since.
But seeing this drawing now, I cannot wait to draw it large again. For now, though, I have other tasks because I am reorganizing my life. And I am tidying my home — just as Marie Kondo said I should.
Two vases of roses sit on a honey colored wooden table. The far edge of the table is visible on one side and the rest is covered by a shimmering yellow-gold cloth. Behind the whole scene is a violet colored cloth. Both vases are abundantly stocked with roses. One bouquet sits in a clear glass jar. The other, a white pitcher, is also filled with numerous roses of many colors. One single spent rose lies flat on the table. Beside it sit three bright orange persimmons. In between the two vases sits a blue pedestal bowl. A few other objects of ambiguous identity sit behind or beside the white pitcher.
This is one of the most complex still lifes I’ve ever painted so far. While it is challenging to capture the flowers since they soon perish, it’s also important to make something of all the relationships of all the things. The design on the cloth, its fold and foreshortening are the gravity of the picture. Everything has to sit upon that gold field and seem to belong there, and to seem as if it might always be there in that forever sense of art. Long after the real flowers have faded and disappeared the appearance of the flowers can still last. And the picture has to hint in the direction of that poetry, has to become a memory of things seen.
Golden: Two Bouquets on a Table is a pastel painting on sanded paper measuring 18 x 24 inches.
A complex ensemble of varied objects sits on a table decorated by a large bouquet. The table cloth is brilliant red. The flowers are of many types: lilies, daisies, carnations, roses. A couple of winter gourds, a queen conch seashell, and a blue pedestal glass filled with smaller seashells sits beside the flowers. Behind them a cloth of pale blues and silver adds a sky-like element. And off to the far right a deep red-orange cloth peeks out framed by some hanging purple flowers from a vase sitting outside the picture frame.
The complexity of a scene like this one gives the artist many sources of intrigue. I love exploring the shapes of many things when they are bunched altogether. It’s a passion that hopefully transfers to the spectator. In any scene of things, many wonderful visual features are always present. One of the aims of visual art is to provoke us to look more deeply into the appearances of the world. Every corner of the universe is filled with splendor. And splendor can begin with the simple contemplation of even a color. A brilliant red is a powerful sensation in its own right. And the shapes of things, the colors of many things, the lines that the mind describes around things are all sources of the most powerful fascination.
The Red Cloth and the Big Bouquet of Flowers is a pastel painting on sanded paper measuring 18 x 24 inches.
If a simple glass pickle jar gives you joy, you know you are a joyful person. I found the pickle jar in my mother’s cabinet. It was one of those things my parents kept out of a desire to give all possessions a second life. Emptied of pickles it became a flower vase. I cleaned it up after its years of disuse and marveled at how lovely the light is that passes through simple clear glass. The flower stems randomly distributed in the jar offer beautiful abstractions of dark green. The glass also reflects and intensifies colors in adjacent objects — the table cloth, the backdrop cloth. It catches highlights of daylight entering the windows. It is in short a light catcher. Whoever wishes to meditate on the meaning of the present tense can gaze into its interior and find passages of beauty to inspect.
The flowers are the heroes of any flower still life: comprised in this instance of carnations and a single large yellow tea rose. But a clear glass jar also brings strong poetry to the scene.
Glass Jar with Flowers is a small pastel painting on textured paper measuring 14 x 18 inches.
A glass pickle jar sits atop a table covered in a rich and brilliant red cloth. Inside, the jar is filled with a spritely array of flowers of different kinds — mostly carnations of red, yellow and pink, with a couple lilies and red daisies and in the center a lovely yellow tea rose. The jar diffuses the stems of the flowers in a soft way, heightening the light dark abstraction of the oblique lines formed by the stems. The glass jar also catches the light of the room in intriguing patterns of reflection.
Ruby Red: flowers on a Red Cloth is pastel painting that measures 14 x 18 inches.
Among the first of a suite of small flower paintings, this simple scene depicts a glass jar filled with flowers sitting on a table top with a gold-green cloth against a backdrop of rosy violet. The principle flower of the group is a large yellow tea rose and surrounding it are carnations of different hues, pale pink, rich red, pale yellow. The green stems of the flowers create a lively abstraction in the jar’s interior where reflections of light enliven the pattern of light and dark shapes.
Bouquet of Carnations is a pastel painting that measures 13 x 16.5 inches.
Well, here I was pretending to draw on this thing just like in the art books! But this was just a photo op. It provides a sense of the drawing’s size, the picture’s scale. The lines, the smears, the hatchings are all fairly largish. Many of the fishes are the same size as the actual koi — the “little guys,” that is. There was a fish that we nicknamed “Moby Dick” who would require an extra-large sheet if one portrayed him in his full grandeur!
These are heavy, weighty matters. Sometimes the fish are big.
And sometimes they are small. These fish in a notebook below are very small, but they are quite musical. One might say that they are ascending scales.
Sometimes a sense of scale implies a sense of SCALE — get it.
Above leaps the fish whose scales I stole, and beside him the Hiroshige print from which I stole them.
Sometimes the drawing is small but the idea is grandiose when fish swim in the skies. And then sometimes the clouds swim like kois in a koi pond.
I like the various permutations of the fish. And I don’t know why I like them so well. I just do.
Usually people go out to catch the fish. But in my case, it’s the fishes who have caught me.
I was away
from my blog for a long time, and now that I’ve returned to writing fairly regularly, I am sometimes at a loss as to what my blog is supposed to be. Whatever intentions I had in the past, those are loose threads now. So I’ve decided that the blog might as well serve as a diary. It can remind a future me what things I was working on, and in roughly what order. It’s worth doing as an experiment. As it is public, it’s a spectator diary. Or a virtual studio where visitors drop by from time to time.
The last life class met on Tuesday. The model adopted the same pose as the session previous, though I changed my position slightly. The model had the most extraordinary cheekbones. I tried to capture their elusive subtlety but never quite managed. I am pleased overall, but still one owes Nature her due. Human beings are by their Creator marvelously fashioned.
I drew relatively small (9 x 12 and 14 x 17 inch notebooks) using oil pastel. Made a few preliminary drawings in pencil and charcoal pencil to get acquainted with the pose and his features.
I have already posted the main drawing from the previous session, but here it is again.