weird and arcane things I must ponder

The bars framing the flowers on either side are products of Pierre Bonnard’s painting that I’m emulating.  They have no other referent.  They’re part of the structure of the window in the Villa Castellamare so I either make stuff up (which may happen) or I follow Bonnard’s lead.  In his painting the two beams are different colors due to alterations in light.  For the present I’m doing what he did so that the left beam is ochre colored and the right is bluish.  (It’s been a long time since I saw the actual painting so I have no idea what the real colors are and book illustrations always exaggerate.)

Anyway it makes me wonder what Bonnard was thinking.  Because the foreground things in my painting are all different from his — especially the flowers — I’ll have to adapt all the Bonnard elements to go with my changes.  All that happens later.

For now I had to decide whether the ochre creeps up and the blue creeps down — and I decided that they do.

Here’s Bonnard’s –

the bonnard painting dining room with window etc

grocery shopping


drawing after a Van Gogh painting of flowers


Today’s plan is to get some grocery store flowers to paint as a study for the flowers in the big painting.  I need some actual flowers to put in the virtual Limoges vase that will sit in Bonnard’s window at the Villa Castellamare.

I am still trying to decide what objects will also sit on the table.  The frog teapot (remember the frog teapot), a second smaller bouquet of flowers, the songbird figurine, the black teapot with flowers, and a couple of oranges.

I’m also thinking that I should include a seashell because I’m always painting seashells.  Of course the compotier with lemons has a prominent place, and the porcelain basket (which I got from the internet) sits in the closest foreground.  Maybe the honey jar.

I’m trying to figure out a way of setting up a still life in the studio so that I can put the objects in better relation to each other.  Logistics …  The virtual objects will, of course, have to be content with the place they occupy in my imagination.

remember the frog teapot


Another note to self.  I want to remember to put the frog teapot on the imaginary table in Bonnard’s dining room at the Villa Castellamare in Arcachon.  The whole right hand side of the table at present is empty.  I was wondering what to put there.  Remembered the frog teapot.

I’m also going to add some oranges —  in the foreground  — on the left.

trying to figure out color

very early stage bonnard's window (2)

I have been thinking about what colors should occur in the painting I’ve just started.  It’s a different approach to painting for me — having decided to study Bonnard more closely.  There are largish areas of my canvas that have no real-life referents.  I can make those areas any color I want (just as the bathroom in Bonnard’s famous painting of Marthe was actually white).  My painting of an interior doesn’t depict an actual place — unless you consider the actual place to be Bonnard’s dining room in the Villa Castellamare at Arcachon.  I could use the same colors Bonnard did for some areas of the picture if I knew what those colors are.  But I have only my books to consult and even the best of them never get the color exactly right. It was a long time ago that I saw the actual canvas.

Well, mine is my painting anyway.  It’s a weird situation to be in to “be able” to choose whatever color I want.  I’m not used to that.  I typically don’t paint that way.  So, here’s to learning new things.

[Detail of the still very amorphous picture, above, taken at night in insufficient light.]

Miscellaneous related ideas below (including two of Bonnard’s works.


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:

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.


trust your instincts


I discovered what it was about the porcelain basket that caught my attention the first time I saw it by chance at 1stdibs — it’s the resemblance to a creamer (?) in Pierre Bonnard’s 1930 painting Dining Room overlooking the Garden which I saw years ago when it was exhibited at the Phillips Collection.  I had made a drawing of the creamer (or white ceramic something-or-other) in front of the actual painting.

after Bonnard white jug

When I happened upon my own drawing again, comparing it with the basket drawing above, the resemblance became obvious.

Things grab you for a reason.


Here’s links to Bonnard’s painting and a link to the 1stdibs basket: