Striped Cloth with Flowers and Gourd

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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.

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Tea Roses

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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.

Golden: Two Bouquets on a Table

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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.

The Red Cloth & the Big Bouquet of Flowers

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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.

Little Bouquet of Flowers

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The Little Bouquet is little not because the flowers were small, but because the image is small.  Scale in art offers an often uncelebrated emotional factor to an image.  Small things affect us differently than large ones do. Small pictures sometimes convey a greater sense of intimacy that comes from the way that small things can be held in our hands, are seen in miniature, are made more jewel-like perhaps or more precious-seeming.

In this picture the smallness of things seemed to suggest a philosophical idea — that the small, though often over-looked thing, can be a receptacle and a source of great meaning.  A simple vase of flowers reminds us of the ever flowing passage of time.  The beauty of all transience can call us back to reverence for life, can remind us of our need to savor the present.  These lovely flowers might have been connected to any of life’s celebrations as they sit in quietude upon a table gleaming in the light.

I saw it as a microcosm of time, a moment when Nature and humanity gathered together. The passage of all loved things was once like this, a glimmering moment of light and life.

Little Bouquet of Flowers is a pastel painting on textured paper measuring 11 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches.

Glass Jar with Flowers

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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.

Green Pitcher with Flowers

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Visits to the thrift store are staples of an artist’s still life experience.  I like thrift shops not merely because they are thrifty, but because they are the opposite of trendy.  They preserve the past, and often that past they preserve is a peculiarly ordinary and everyday past.

Finding the green pitcher was one of those wonderful thrift store discoveries that every flea market aficionado loves.

The pitcher has no value in a monetary sense, but it is visually rich.  It’s one of those objects that lends itself to numerable interpretations. Placing it into this still life gave the flowers a new character.  I had been portraying the same hardy flowers over the course of several days (it is amazing how long well-tended cut carnations will stay fresh).

The green becomes a factor.  The green of the pitcher, colored like a grassy lawn, brings its own associations of spring, evoking the sense of a landscape where flowers bloom.  Of course this vase has its own porcelain flowers, too, ones that decorate its waist.  A bright gold-yellow cloth and variegated violet and pale linen-colored cloth behind the flowers create a light-filled scene.

Green Pitcher with Flowers is a pastel painting measuring 15 1/4 x 21 inches.

 

finding the fish

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A close up view of the fish drawing is pure abstraction.  You can hardly tell there’s a fish there except for a bit contour — that along with being told — does vaguely produce a minimum of fishiness.  I am an abstract artist — in some respects.  Someone told me this, one of my insightful students.  I wasn’t even aware.

Why do I like the scrawl of the crayon more than the specific features of the fish itself?  Well, I only like them better in some pictures.  In other pictures I’d be quite content to imitate the look of a koi sliding through the water. But here the energy of crayon markings in bright colors has gotten the better of me.  The markings capture some of the alacrity of koi energy.

There’s still fish there.  And it matters too that they’re fish.

This detail occurs in the giant rehearsal drawing.  I reworked it based on some random lights and shadows that fell on the drawing when I was outdoors photographing it.  Here’s a picture of it indoors with the tool box and step stool to give a sense of its actual size.

drawing indoors

Ruby Red: Flowers on a Red Cloth

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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.

Bouquet of Carnations

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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.