The craggy, complex surfaces of the seashell are so mesmerizing and beautiful. It’s like a landscape of beautiful mountains. I never tire of drawing the seashells, studying their intricate forms. Master artists the little fellows who build these shell homes.
I decided to turn one of the seashell, ginger jar and honey pot drawings into a painting. And the first elements of the painting are blocked in.
But I have been unsure about aspects of the seashell, and since any excuse will do, I made the drawing at the top of the post as a study. It’s on Canson pastel paper, 16 x 12 inches and is drawn using Neopastels.
The drawing that forms the basis for the new painting is this one:
But I’ve also started drawing another version on the same size sheet (24 x 18 inches) in which the objects slightly smaller.
I work on the second version sometimes late at night. It gradually comes along. But though I felt this desire to do the second version, I knew I still wanted the objects to follow the size of the first drawing. So there are many versions. There’s also the drawing inside my brain, the one that is the neurological composite of the variations!
I have this little 14 x 11 inch still life that I pulled out of the stack. I’ve already altered it a little to conform to the new drawings that I’ve been making of the motif. Like The Big Painting, I am painting this from drawings. The objects are set up in a still life right here in the studio, but the light has been variable — plus I cannot commit to being in the studio at the right times since The Big Painting is the priority.
But it’s nice to have something else toward which I can turn my thoughts. So here’s the side project. Small, fun, no worries.
Here’s some of the studies so far — all the studies except one are made using Neopastels on various pastel papers:
This one needs some adjustment to the size of the compotier bowl, just visible, that hangs above the frog’s head. Yes, again, frogs!
I love dealing with the edges around things and the spaces between things. I like the “things that are not things” in a picture.
The above drawing proves that I can draw a motif that has no frog in it . See, no frog.
This pastel above (traditional dry pastel) is from an earlier suite of drawings. I found it among some dry pastels and was surprised to encounter my current subject.
And here’s yet another recent drawing that I started and haven’t as yet finished. Then again, does it really need to be finished? I mean, hey, the frog is there …
Not really this blue, but I cannot ever get the color correct. Mentally average all the various photos in your mind and maybe that will be somewhat like the actual canvas …
Anyway, I am taking pictures of the painting at various junctures just to remind myself how it has proceeded. I am SO GLAD that I have been keeping a chronicle of this painting (bloggers, cherish your blogs) because it helps me put many things into perspective: so for instance, it’s nice knowing that I began work sometime in May. This being the last day of July — and of course I took a break from the canvas while sorting out various ideas through drawings — I’d say that’s not bad for time management. I give myself a “gold star”!
Bonnard’s painting has a lattice design along the two far edges and I have indicated something like that on this canvas. I’m not really sure how this will go because his painting includes various things omitted from mine — most notably a spectral Marthe. Thus if I have a lattice pattern, it will be even less clear what it references than in Bonnard’s original. Perhaps it’s a design in wall paper? Anyway, I LOVE lattice patterns and have used them often in my art. I probably get the enthusiasm for lattices from Bonnard’s art (where they are everywhere — even in the foliage). So, I’m all for including it, but I have to figure out the how and why of it a bit more.
He also has patterns in the very topmost part of those edge sections, and I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll do yet. Even something like the stripes in the cloth is not straight forward. Oh, how I wish I could see his actual painting again! (It’s been 20 years.) Color changes all along the path of each stripe are possible things to fiddle around with so revisiting even just that one feature will be exciting. And changes to one element affect the everything else.
Frog teapot and the blue jay figurine need to be made really present. Ditto for the other objects. Lots of painting ahead. The whole scene visible through the window is as yet undetermined. But oh how I enjoy this….
Junior studio assistant gives me a meaningful look while senior studio assistant (mostly unseen) smacks junior assistant with her tail. (This happens a lot.)
The blue compotier is starting to go in.
The flowers also are starting to go in. I use music stands to hold my studies. It’s very convenient — and musical! — I feel like I’m playing the score while I paint.
All these study drawings and paintings are very useful. I’ll be making more of them as the painting goes forward. As more of the picture gets painted I’ll know what further information I need from the objects.
I had to take a high resolution photo of a painting for a prospectus, and while I had the pro camera out I took some pictures of the work in progress just for fun. So the shot above is actually a small detail of a photo.. Ain’t technology wonderful?! I usually use a now rather antiquated Kodak EasyShare for most of the blog’s photography. It’s so ancient that you can’t buy the 2 GB chips very readily. Of course I used to think — actually I still think — that the detail available on the old camera is amazing.
Well, here’s hoping I don’t break the internet with all the bytes. The above is a section of the shot below (whose total file size has been reduced).
Not sure whose drawing this is, but isn’t it grand? I’m painting my flowers today so here’s something aspirational I post to encourage a fine flower mood. Hope you’re enjoying a fine flower mood wherever you are, whatever you do ….
Some of my artist heroes, when painting drapery, would paint the folds first creating the three dimensional structures over which they would afterwards add the design patterns as they fold around curves and disappear around corners.
Me, I am so enamored with the patterns that my instinct is to go for the pattern first. I just do this, I make no particular claims for the process. Maybe I just don’t like to do my homework.
I’m thinking there’s a case for either approach (and for various approaches that are neither one nor the other). As I see it the whole painting is flat anyway. If you start with the patterns, you afterwards put folds where they seem to make sense and those folds curve however much they do. One can always put more paint on top. Indeed the picture consists of the paint that’s “on top.”
Well, that’s very true for this picture more than for most because underneath all the flowers and folds and patterns and whatnot are some toy horses. I cannot put too much paint on the surface to make sure those horses never see the light of day again!
I’ve begun putting the vertical lines in the blue just to see how they add up with the rest of the painting. Not sure yet whether all those lines will stay. And I’m glad to paint over them or over anything else so that my horses don’t come trotting out.
And this painting is the warm up for The Big Painting. I remind myself of that from time to time …