Frog still life: 1st go

frog still life first go

In just under two hours I began an oil sketch on Arches oil paper of a ceramic frog and some other objects that are arranged haphazardly on a kind of over-flow still life shelf.  The bottle with the bird motif has appeared on this blog before.  To its right is part of a conch shell.  To its left is a little model of the Eiffel Tower.

I realized afterwards that among English speakers the juxtaposition of the frog and Eiffel Tower might seem significant, but their appearance is accidental.  The Eiffel Tower got misplaced on the floor while I was cleaning and upon its rediscovery, I just put it on the shelf with other things. The Eiffel Tower formerly belonged to my mother.  And the froggie, while he is exclusively mine has associations with her as well since she owned a similar little ceramic frog (someday I’ll have to paint a face off of the two ceramic frogs). In any case the two things, Parisian landmark and frog figurine, connect through her rather than through any humorous cultural associations — unless cultural associations over-rule all others …

I bought my ceramic frog last summer at Homestead gardens near Annapolis.  I liked his cheerful green demeanor. I also loved holding it in my hand.  The glass is so smooth that just to hold it offers comfort, offers a mediation on mindfulness through the sense of touch.

It’s amazing to me how sketchy of a sketch this sketch is, but there’s so many little color notes to observe and even in as short a span as two hours the light began to alter rather dramatically.

I don’t know if I’ll continue work on the picture or not, but I like to set myself the task of doing fast little paintings to see how much I can gather together through quick thinking.  The froggie has colors across his chest that require a careful depiction if his form is to be evident. Some of the marks on him now relate to those colors, but I haven’t enough there yet to establish them as colors sitting on the surface. Revealing what is shadow and what is marking in a painting’s early stage can be tricky.

If I do continue working on the painting, it’ll be the frog who gets my attention first. For today, though, I wanted to catch some of the hodge podge of things in their thingness. As a preliminary sketch, I think it’s not half bad.

The blue bottle (to the Frog’s left) and the yellow vase behind it are regulars on my still life table, as the drawings above attest.

Not drawing today

I was painting! Da tah!  And I can show a few peeks at what’s on the easel.  But only some hints.  Because my studio is a secret bunker and the work in progress is Top Secret.

All that stuff I’ve been drawing with my crayons and with the favorite pen are being turned into paint.

Yep, I’ve given the favorite pen the day off.  It’s been just me and the paint brushes today.

But the blue compotier didn’t get the day off!  No, sirree!

Nah, the blue compotier is workin’ over-time.

Into the thick of the honey painting

Worked a little bit on the honey painting today (had icky chores that prevented my working on it a lot).  Am in that phase of looking more closely at everything, started each part of the painting as though it were a little painting in its own right.  There’s so much happening in the still life, such nuanced changes of color, subtle shadows, colors I cannot identify.  There’s such an amount of potential stuff that it’s rather mind-boggling. 

For some reason, I feel as though I forgot how to paint.  Or like I must relearn it.  Well, it’s none the less delightful for having become strange again.

The little honey pot has a bee and honey comb design on it.  Am struggling with that.  Right now the honey pot is winning, but it’s early in the fight.  Wish me luck!

The grass was greener in the Middle Ages

I have sometimes done pictures that tell or suggest stories.  Yesterday I found an unfinished panel where I was beginning to paint “Spottie leaping through the forest,” an as yet unwritten, untold legend of our now departed dog Spot and his astonishing and unparalleled canine athleticism.  What prompted my mind’s eye image of Spottie’s feat, I cannot tell.  Some epiphanies just come unheralded, you know.  But I’ll bet that one influence upon me has been King Rene’s Book of Love, Le Livre du Cueur d’Amours Espris.  Its vivid colors and enchantingly depicted scenes stick to your mind like honey.  Perhaps as I feel once again its spell, I can finish the story of the Great Spot and give the world a new canine hero who is the equal of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin combined!

The Water’s Surface

Spent another day painting koi.  One of the challenges of these paintings is what to do with largish areas of canvas that are just blue — as in the detail above of the painting-of-the-moment..  I have been thinking with the brush in hand, but I also make drawings in which I experiment with different shades of blue set side by side.  Or I try to figure out how to create some facsimile of the dimension of the water itself. 

It’s more “thinking about” than achieving “success” at this point, but it goes to show how any motif can take you deeper and deeper into the question of how we perceive our perceptions.

After painting, I stopped by the koi pond to see the guys.  They all say “hi.”  They’ll be very happy if I can make them famous. They think they’re worth it.

It was quite hot and muggy in Washington DC today (our typical mid-summer weather), but I had a quiet pool of blue water to stare at so I was vicariously cool as can be.  Still have a long ways to go with this painting, propped outside the studio door at my secret, fortified bunker studio in the heart of the Nation’s capital, many days to go during which I will sit beside my koi pond in thought.

koi color music

I caught a lot of fish yesterday.  And all day I’ve been dreaming about my return to the pond tomorrow.  The fish change between media and from one format to another.  Doing the same motif, all kinds of little shifts occur in this koi jazz.

Back at it

koi latest

Evidently I was working on this back in April or thereabouts.  At least that’s when I first displayed the image here at a post entitled Do Clean House Occasionally.  I’ve been working on this picture again, bringing it up from its roughed-in beginnings, and gosh darn, I’ve been cleaning again too.  Is that weirdly psychological or what?

I’m getting so organized I scare myself.  I’m in serious danger of losing my membership in the Phyllis Diller fan club (where bicentennial cleaning is the ideal).  Well, organized or not, I cannot have been cleaning all that much because look how much progress I made on my painting.