a bigger bouquet

flower study 2

I got more flowers and added them to the existing bunch.  And I started a second study.  This one measures 24 x 18.  I omitted the vase this time.  In this study I’m just focused on the flowers themselves.  But I keep adding new blooms to the group and some of what I painted reflects the bouquet the way it looked before the new additions.  So it’s confusing.

But the main thing is that I’m looking at these flowers and painting them.  I’ll keep painting flowers.  When these wear out, I’ll get some more and paint those.  I must sort these flowers out because even though I’m emulating Bonnard’s big dining room picture, La Salle à manger sur le Jardin, it has no flowers so  I am already striking out on my own path.  Paintings can change quickly.  I started with Bonnard’s idea, but just the inclusion of the bouquet begins to nudge the whole motif into a different direction.

This flower direction is a good one to travel.  The flowers exert some pull upon me.  They suit my temperament, and I spend hours staring at them, describing their forms and colors with bits of paint.

 

more window shopping

the bonnard painting dining room with window etc

There’s one other window that I want to have a look at before I begin working on the BIG painting.  It happens that the Library of Congress has some windows that are rather like the one in Bonnard’s painting of the dining room at the Villa Castellamare.

I would go there right now with my camera, but Mother Nature doesn’t want to do anything these last several days but rain.  Rain, rain, rain all the time.  Of course she’s got to stop raining eventually.  And when she does I’m off to the Library of Congress for more window shopping.  In the interim, I’ve found this picture at the Library of Congress website.

library of Congress window with view of capitol building

As you can see it’s got the balestrade just like Bonnard’s window (top of the post).  Naturally, you will not be seeing the United States Capitol in my painting.  I’ll be finding a landscape to view from this window if I decide to use it.

My teacher Monsieur Bonnard has just whispered something in my ear.  He says that while he used to love to take photographs himself, that if I want to have a better contact with my motif, I should take a little notebook and a stubby pencil and make some DRAWINGS while I stand in front of the actual window.  “Take your photographs, bien sûr, but makes the little Croquis too.”

bonnard croquis fenetre ouverte
Pierre Bonnard, croquis – une fenetre ouverte

So, anyway, either I photograph — AND DRAW —  another window soon, or start building my Ark.  If it’s the latter, I need to get some doggie sailing outfits for Lucy and Zoomie!

Link to the Library of Congress window:

https://www.loc.gov/poetry/poetryroom/3-view.html

second large bouquet

second large bouquet no 2

I paint the flowers as though photography doesn’t exist.  And there’s no deliberate plan, I don’t have a strategy for singling out some of the flowers and subordinating others.  It does tend to work out that way at first, but the plan — if there is one — is subliminal.  I use the bee plan: I flit from flower to flower.

I just pick a starting point and begin describing locations and shapes.  Afterwards my attention goes willy nilly where it will.

I’ve taken lots of photographs — and may take even more since the photographs are like free flowers (and you never know when you’ll need some flowers).  But this direct, unscripted connection to the flowers painted from life is wonderful.  From the various studies, I’ll later choose whatever seems best, and those arrangements will become the bouquet that goes into the big painting.  I keep painting until the flowers wilt (or I do).

I’ve never done a painting in quite this way before so it’s intriguing.  It’s also emotionally satisfying.  I contemplate all the objects separately, getting to know them, before combining them into the big scene.

So there’s a question of light — what will be the lighting of the final picture?  Will it be specific and generalized, both at once?  I’ve been puzzling over the topic a bit.  I would offer that approach as characteristic of how my big hero Pierre Bonnard worked.  He made a compositional study of his painting motif, one where the objects are lit from behind by the window.  That’s the specific part.  But afterwards he painted it from imagination and memory, perhaps also by reference to a few drawings (not many, not nearly so many as I make).  And he got a consistent seeming image without obsession over whether the particular features were actually like the thing he had observed.  And indeed his paintings create a realm of brilliant, dreamlike pseudo-reality.

Here’s one of his studies for the painting that I’m emulating:

bonnard gouache drawing for painting

Bonnard’s gouache drawing measures a precious 6 x 4 inches (it’s reproduced on page 138 of the Met’s “Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still lifes and Interiors”).

And my oil study in-the-works above measures 24 x 18 inches.

I worked on the study during the day and at night.  I noticed only a few really significant differences in lighting (places where shadows fell in one instance and not in the other).  Since I can work on the painting effectively enough no matter the light, I am guessing that I don’t need to be especially scrupulous about lighting in the painting itself.

The blue at the top doesn’t relate to the large painting I have planned because actually there’s a second, smaller intermediate painting for which I plan to use the bouquet. That picture has a blue background so I’ve used blue here.  But my large, Bonnard inspired painting  will have a window behind the flowers thus a surrounding of mostly greens — from the window I found with a view of trees that I found, that I will have found when my “window shopping” is completed.