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Lemons

February 20, 2012

White bowl

I was having a discussion with Kristina and sandi (from ‘sandi’s bottles’ fame)  about lemons in paintings. And how, for me, avocados and those dark purple plums hold the same appeal, especially when combined with that luminous lemon yellow.

The painting above was one of the first oil paintings I did after seeing the Elizabeth Blackadder show last August, and it was the first one I felt good about. The ones that came after didn’t have that same sponteneity. It is as if this one was given (it really was- first I made a tiny thumbnail of it in oil pastel and then cranked this out in one sitting) as a sort of beacon to paint toward. And everything that came after that for awhile fell short.  I never recovered that same certainty about where it wanted to go until recently.

 

Lemon and plums

This one is quite small and came much later. It was the first one where I started to see the potentials in leaving part of the acylic underpainting showing as in the bottles on the top left and the shadow of the lemon. And it led to the recent bottle series. (But bottles figure in a lot of my work, look at the top half of the top painting in this post for instance).

I can’t say that the composition was intentional, it just sort of grew.  I love the colors. They really do capture what I liked best about my oil pastels, the light airy blues against the rich aubergines and greens. And then that sunny lemon yellow shining. And all of it set off against a foil of burnt sienna.

So these two are more about where I want to go in my heart, rather than the super realistic last bottle one. These have the element of play that I want to enjoy while I’m painting.

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All photos by Rende Zoutewelle

Well, it is an all-consuming project. I do have a life….I think. But I basically wake up and go to sleep thinking about which flowers fit where, color balance, leaf size contrasts etc.

Rende’s photos have captured some of  the atmosphere of the étalage (aka shop or oil painting studio) where I’m working on the instrument. It is a small space – not even enough to walk completely around the case. A new instrument like this needs to be kept at an even temperature and humidity to prevent drying out, so it is on the chilly side – about 15 degrees centigrade. I wrap up well before I go to ‘work’.

Despite that inconvenience, I do like having it all concentrated down here, the previous ones took over my entire attic studio. That meant I really couldn’t do anything else.

Johan said that with the sound board being painted, the instrument is starting to come alive.

As soon as it was brought here, I felt it already had a soul from the amazing amount of love and care that the builder, Matthias, had put into it, and from all the thought that had gone into it even before the case was built. Now that I’m adding my part, there is such a strong visual emphasis, it is hard to remember that

the real soul of this instrument lies in the sound it will make.

Anyway, it is a really cool project to be involved in. I have to slow down to paint each plant and animal portrait as if it were the only one. And one by one they are forming a whole painted songboard.

woodpecker attacks songboard

Definitely connected to the long tradition of songboard painting, and yet also belonging to the 21st century in the choices we’ve made, both visually and in content.  For example, Johan had requests for various flowers and other elements to be included which are personal symbols connected to his own life. For a few people, beside the aesthetic quality, there will be added layers of meaning to the things painted on the instrument.

When it goes back to Germany at the end of the month, Matthias will make the keyboards (there are two) and attach the strings. And then it will be able to sing.

Sandi’s bottle series #4

February 12, 2012

This is the latest in the ‘sandi’s bottles’series. I hadn’t intended to get so realistic, but it has been helpful in learning the technique. I love working with the rich oils as opposed to the plasticky acrylics. But that’s personal.
Cleanup is a real pain though.

Working larger is enjoyable, this is 40x 50 cm (about 16 x 20 inches).

Sandi's bottles series #3

Here is the finished painting. I’d shown the underpainting several posts ago. I liked working gradually in acrylic glazes and it never seemed quite the right time to switch over into oils. (You can apply oil over acylic, but not vice versa).

The one I’m working on now (not shown) is in oil paint though, and I’m concentrating on applying the paint thicker. The challenge is to suggest transparency in solid (oil) paint, rather than layered transparent acrylic glazes as is done here.

Now I must get back to the harpsichord. Another type of painting altogether!! Pictures soon.

Ingrid and Stuart outside of Bon Papillon Gallery,Café, Framers, & Shop

I was lucky enough to stumble on Bon Papillon last summer when in Edinburgh. I’d just visited the wool shop nearby and needed a cup of tea and a place to just chill for awhile.  It was festival time, and my search for knitting wools had brought me onto a side street off busy Prince’s street, a good way down the hill. It was a relief to get away from the intense bustle and crowds, and when I saw the little terrace and art gallery offering cake and coffee, I couldn’t resist.

Bon Papillon had just opened a few months earlier. Once inside I sat down at a wooden table in a lovely, warm and intriguing interior and had the best cake and coffee I can remember having in a long time. And the prices were as friendly as the owners. I chatted a bit with Ingrid Nilsson about her art and this new venture she was embarking on with her partner Stuart Allan. It turns out Ingrid is an exhibiting artist, and Stuart has 20 years experience in catering. Judging from the deliciousness factor of the food there (11 on a scale from 1-10), that’s not hard to believe.

How can you choose????

Stuart's Beet & Ginger cake with lemon frosting

I have mixed feelings about sharing this here, because part of the pleasure, of course, is the surprise in discovering a gem like this. I’d hate to see it overrun and the owners start to consider expanding; the appeal is in the intimacy of a small 2 person place with so much attention to detail. For me the charm lies in the combination of amazing, food made with  pure, natural ingredients, the friendly ambiance which leads to conversation between tables should you wish (people bring their knitting and sketchbooks), the reasonable prices, and the great selection of art. I should add that Stuart has started a framing shop in the back, and it looks like this too is done with the same care and high standard as his cooking. Even though it is not edible!

Café interior

Stuart framing

So, when you are in Edinburgh, do go to this little haven on Howe street, say hi to Ingrid and Stuart,and eat some cake for me.

Oh almost forgot to say, they carry my felt brooches.
Tip- they’ve got some wonderful art shows coming up, see their blog .