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Breaking open a painting

June 2, 2015

I’m still working on my new series inspired by Rende’s photos of bottles placed in front of my still life paintings. I’ll skip the last two (nos. 3 & 4) for now because they are still in process and deserve a separate post.

The ones I’m working on now ( nos. 5  & 6) I’m excited about. They are closer to suggesting and further from explaining.
It feels to me like I’m in a process of ‘breaking my paintings open’, that seems the best way to explain it. Though photographic realism is a valid way to go for many artists, it isn’t my goal and limits me. I’m already a perfectionist and reproducing things exactly only encourages me to obsess even more!

Even in the last few bottle paintings, I’ve felt restrained by the subject matter. But my intuition tells me not to turn to more abstract/decorative work (like my oil pastels), but to find the freedom I want via realistic work. After all that is the work that speaks to me most by artists I admire, like Krabbé and Blackadder.

So breaking the painting open means that room is created for my own imagination. It means that colours and forms aren’t dictated by the objects in front of me but those objects become a departure point for my expression. It has taken me 5 years of steady work to get this far, (though I’ve been painting sporadically my whole life).

These two even started out differently- I had some ‘failed’ landscapes and abstract work lying around. So instead of gessoing them over, I sketched directly on them with charcoal, because they make colourful and unpredictable backgrounds. Also they encourage a looser approach to applying the paint. Here are the charcoal sketch and first blocking in for Bottles 6. And below that first stages of Bottles 5.

charcoal preliminary sketch

charcoal preliminary sketch

Blocking in colours and values

Blocking in colours and values

Early stage bottles 5

Early stage bottles 5

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One Response to “Breaking open a painting”


  1. impressive use of colour suggestive of the glass


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