the idea of the structure

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So far my painting follows the structure set forth in Bonnard’s picture which I emulate. And notwithstanding my window shopping, I seem to be using his window — at least for the present.  The horizontal and vertical elements of Bonnard’s window are an essential component of his painting’s structure.  Of course, the real structure of mine is as yet unresolved.  I’m looking for it, and I’m hardly even started.

I made the study above a year or two ago with the aim of using it in a variation on the motif of flowers on a table sitting in front of a window.  I recall that the light was changing rapidly and I just decided impulsively to see if I could make a fast drawing with oil pastels.  Some element of the colors still beckons and those sinewy lines of the tree that’s up against the house.  The tension between the squares of the window panes and the curvy trees and the colors, they all hint at something.  I don’t know what.

For much art, getting the perspective right is significant for the sake of realism.  In Bonnard’s art the flying off askew of perpendicular and horizontal lines obeys a visual physics all its own.  You don’t get there by constructing perspective lines or by assiduously drawing the architecture as it is.  You have to find the lines through sensibility the way that ants follow pheromone trails.

I was having trouble drawing a door many years ago.  Just couldn’t figure it out.  So I poured through my Bonnard books until I found a door of his.  Simply looking at his image showed me the solutions I needed.  They weren’t elements of perspective.  They were ideas about what to describe and what to forget about.  My door is as wobbly as his, but it serves its pictorial purpose — it’s a passage way into the pictorial outdoors — or from realm to realm.

open door

the motif chronicles

bouquet with owl etc version

I started the idea of the flowers against the window about two years ago.  I recall at the time that I linked several posts to each other hoping to retrieve and to remember where all the related materials were.  But right now I cannot find any of the linked posts.

I’m giving myself a few links to related posts now, things I found via an image search.  I’ll post those below.  Maybe I’ll find some of the others eventually.  In any case, I track my progress on the painting and record thoughts and problems in the blog as a helpful diary so that I can consult my own earlier opinions whenever I get stumped.  In the previous post I remarked on the consistency of light as a potential problem, now I’m wondering about the angle of vision.  Since there’s no actual still life, I have to figure out where I am imaginatively standing inside the imaginary room — which I suppose, if I must pin it down, is the Villa Castellamare that Bonnard rented where he painted his scene, the one that I love so much.

I’m trying to live there “rent free” as the saying goes ….


I don’t expect anybody to follow the links.  I put them here as part of my own filing, but if curiosity strikes … well, whatever.  Here are links.


I’ve decided to add the frog teapot to the picture, a previous drawing of it is here:

Here’s one of Bonnard’s drawings for his painting


Unrelated, but this landscape drawing indicates how a plane can lie flat and stretch out.  The table in the picture needs to recede flatly in this manner and reminds one of the links between landscape and still life.


The Door is Always Open

That’s a pun.  You see, the “door is always open” because it’s a drawing not a real door.  And “the door is always open” is an expression denoting one’s accessibility, get it?  (I should never try to do this.)  This pun is, however, a good metaphor for art and I like subjects that are metaphors for what I do.  In painting you make things that never change.  Here, the door is always open; the sun always shines; the leaves are forever green.  It’s a happy picture.

I’ve been an artist a long time, though I will not reveal my age.  Like a popular American president of yore, I celebrate 39th birthdays only now.  But I’m not telling how many times I’ve been 39.  Anyway, with time comes experience.  I know how I could make an architecturally precise rendering of this doorway — or more accurately — I know how to find the information I need and I have the skills to use that information, and I could make this door square by golly.

But I like this crooked doorway.  It’s wobbliness is what gives it charm.  In truth my house could use a little work these days, though I’ve exaggerated its picturesqueness in the direction of personality.  Nonetheless, I had difficulties making this picture and I turned to another artist for advice.  I looked at a painting of Bonnard’s where the same laws of gravity apply and the same slightly distorted rules of physics lend intimacy to inanimate things.  Looking at Bonnard’s painting was like having a chat with him.  He told me what he had noticed and what features he felt were not significant for his picture.  And it helped me enormously.  It gave me a new way of looking at my actual doorway so that I could draw it from life and let perspective go hang.  Here’s the result.  It’s a study for a painting.  I love this idea and in time I’m going to paint it.

An open door combines two genres of art: landscape and interiors — it’s the place where they meet.  It is a going out and coming in all at once.  Believe it or not, it’s a serious motif with lots of historical connections and roots that spread out in every direction.  Matisse, Bonnard and their imitators among the School of Paris artists all did variations upon this theme.

I just decided that it was time I joined their club.

[Top of the post:  Open door in Summer, colored pencils, by Aletha Kuschan]