Bonnard, palette as source of pictorial ideas
September 29, 2013
Pierre Bonnard La salle a manger a la campagne Source
In 1998, the London Tate had a comprehensive show of Pierre Bonnard’s paintings. Looking at the catalogue I see that the exhibition filled no less than 10 rooms. I remember moving through these rooms being immersed in the wonderful colours of these paintings.
I bought the accompanying book of the exhibition , ‘Bonnard colour and light’ by Nicholas Watkins and have recently come back to it. There is a curious item in the section on Bonnard’s language of colour describing how the artist felt about his palettes:
For Bonnard a palette did more than establish a colour scheme and an overall tonality of a painting; it was in a sense an embryo painting. Pictorial ideas would develop out of his responses to the actual colours put down on the palette. …On a studio visit in 1943, André Giverny noted that he kept a separate plate, an improvised palette, for each painting. ‘Why destroy a series of ideas which could be useful?’, Bonnard observed.
The idea of establishing a palette as a tool for determining the tone of a painting was new to me. I’d been wanting to adapt some of Bonnard’s glowing warm/cool contrasts to one of my next fruit bowl paintings, hopefully breaking me out of my fixation (in my oil painting work at any rate) with reproducing colours realistically.
This is the acrylic underpainting. (This painting was completed, by the way, before I started the 37 minute series, and already has some of their freshness.)
The next stage was completed fairly quickly and left a bit rough without reworking it.
Completed painting below- looks like it loses a little a little strength perhaps, partially due to different lighting when shooting the photos.
I wanted to capture the blue glass bowl and reflections.