grape-like thingy

pattern on the green cloth

I have been mesmerized by the grape-like thingy.  I’ve been working on the grape-like thingy.

Well, you never know what part of the picture is going to arrest your attention, such as a grape-like thingy on a field of grass green.

Rearranged the cloth, to look for more thingies that grab my attention.  Really lovin’ this green cloth.

cloth rearranged

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)


various lattice setups together

I set up still lifes for everything.  Having a still life doesn’t mean that you have to depict it literally, either.  You can use it as a platform for generating ideas.  It gives you something to look at and think about.  I simulate that process here by arranging some photos of a lattice (part of a baby gate) placed in front of a cloth decorated with a chain grid pattern.  I altered the colors as much as my primitive photo edit program will allow.

Of course, by drawing something like this, I can alter the colors in any way I please.  My “programming” is more variable.

WordPress’s photo format lets me further alter them by creating a composition made of square tiles.

This other photo below was edited through resizing, stretching one side while leaving the other side alone.

lattice set up #2.png

Thift Store Haul


My thoughts had already turned toward still life, and I had already set up a still life and begun a painting, when one morning I woke with the notion that I should get me to the thrift store.  So I did.  And I came home with not only some wonderful objects, but with a very inexpensive but expressive and new-to-me still life table worthy of Cezanne.

Exceptional among the haul items was this beautiful amber colored bottle with a raised pattern of arcs and flowers.  I don’t know what sort of bottle it is, whether or not it had any non-decorative use.  It cost next to nothing at the thrift store and offers amazing possibility as a still life object.


As you can see, the bottle has a beautiful pattern in relief at its base.  The glass distorts the shapes of whatever is seen through it, transforming all the surrounding colors into soft blurs while shading them with a veil of the bottle’s own warm color.

For the present I installed the bottle into a still life of predominantly blue colors, where it joins some stone birds that I got at a garden center thirty years ago, with also a large blue and white jar found during the same recent haul.


I also purchased a lovely white, green and rose vase.  As I had already noticed and as the diligent thrift store clerk also brought to my attention, it has a chip.  The wonderful thing, however, about the still life object is that a chip doesn’t matter.  It’s theater.   You just turn it to face away or you “repair” the defect by painting the chip away.   Alternately, you can go for a pictoresque effect and leave the chip as it is, letting it make a statement about the process of time.

You can see how amazingly lovely the pattern is, particularly when viewed up close.


With a pattern of this sort, you could venture into intricate detail in your still life  — notice the lovely raised green leaf design in the corners — or don’t forget that patterns like these can take on a life of their own should your imagination run in that direction.  For the pattern is an idea and could be applied anywhere.  You could, theoretically, use it as Matisse has used pattern very freely here:

Matisse eggplants

No rule says that the pattern needs to stay confined to the object.

After you set a still life you begin to notice all kinds of potential relationships between objects available to exploit.   For instance the flutes at the base of lovely chipped vase relate to the ridges that represent the feathers of the bird’s wings.


Like most painters of still life, I have racks of things to use.  Sometimes the stored objects, placed willy nilly on the shelf, form set ups as interesting as the ones I assemble.


But the theater of staging the things you want to paint, of moving them about and seeking the view that’s “just right,” is a joy unto itself.  And I’d urge artists of other media to consider the possibilities that still life can play in their lives for you could arrange a poem of things, or a scene in a play, or a pleasing tableau to contemplate in your music room by the just arrangement of lovely things on a shelf.


Seeking the confusion

More and more I have been drawing a more cluttered still life.  I’ve been seeking different sorts of challenge, and one of them is the still life whose “background” includes objects that confuse the figure/ground relationship.  I like confusion.  So when I realized that setting the vase of flowers in front of painting of flowers was putting colors into strange relation with the colors “behind” them, I found a new idea.  In the drawings  the whole painting is never visible enough to read as a painting;  it’s just various colors behind the colors of the objects, all similar enough to make telling what is in front and what is behind a question.

Even in a photo, you can clearly see what happens.

I found a new baby

I have some white flowers that are getting lost — white flowers, white paper, and then there’s a drawing behind the flowers in the actual still life.  A very fun confusion indeed.

En Plein Bouquet

I say I’ll paint outdoors again, so naturally I stay inside.  It’s hard to make plans.  I never could get away so I made a virtue of necessity and drew still lifes indoors. 

The bouquet is just as good as a tree top.  Up it goes (see how nearly trunk-like the glass vase is) and out it expands, flowers like boughs, everything hanging this way and that, expand, expand.  A little bit of satin blue-grey-green sky all around.  A bright shiny lawn of exceedingly vivid satin green.  Presto chango — the outdoors imagined!

Never were faux silk flowers more attuned to Nature.