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Crowded stilllifes

October 23, 2016

cr-stillfe1-begin

underpainting and first forms sketched in        acrylic 40 x 50cm

HI folks, this is a continuation of the series I’m working on which seems to be about dancing between realism and abstraction. I needed to keep the freshness of this  underpainting and sketch, so I let go of certain givens, like making the yellow ball (which was a pomegranate) bright rose red. When faced with a decision, I chose for ‘feels good’ for the whole painting, rather than ‘right’. Looking at this now, I can also see how landscape is coming in, through the patches of green, like crops seen from the sky. (The red and yellow stripe are the Dutch bulb fields 🙂 ).

cr-stillfe1

Crowded still life 1    acrylic 40 x 50 cm

Above is the ‘finished’ piece. It simply means where I chose to stop working on it. Some things aren’t ‘completed’. But it is the imperfections I love so much in others’ work so I left them in mine.

The next piece was quite different. I wanted to work with more neutral colours. It is painted over a few portrait studies I did,  you can see a face peeking out behind the small dropper bottle at the upper right.

glazes-begin

Neutral underpainting    acrylic 40 x 50cm

Without really thinking about it consciously, I started painting this with glazes rather than solid colour. I think that I was quite intimidated at first by the strong and dominating shadows, and this was a way to approach them cautiously.I really loved the black broken lines of the charcoal sketch, so with dry-brush I imitated them in places.

cr-stillfe-glazes

Crowded still life 2  acrylic 40 x 50cm

For some reason one of my favourite areas in this painting is the little rectangle with the orange and greenish blue plum on the lower right just next to the plate with radishes. I also like the shallots.

It would be tempting to ‘fill in’ everything (see bottle and dropper bottle upper right), but my instinct was to leave it. These paintings are done in a spirit of following where the painting leads. There are lots of open areas, spatially as well as in content. I like the surprises I got while painting it. Things happened which  could never be planned. When you’re in that kind of flow, each painting opens out naturally into another one. I don’t have a subject yet, but this exploration will definitely continue.

Next post will be about Matisse. ah lovely.

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airy-blue-stillife

airy still life       acrylic    40 x 50cm approx.

One of my present challenges with painting is to distil some basic elements out of a crowded composition.

I don’t like to set up still lifes these days, they strike me as too formal. So when certain aspects of our messy kitchen counter caught my eye, I took a picture and decided to work with it purely as a starting point. This first piece above wasn’t entirely to my satisfaction composition wise, but I liked that I was able to break out of slavishly following the actual photo.

kitchen-still-life-1a

Later, I revisited this set up from another angle. This time I used a specific underpainting which was a previous failed work. Last post I talked about using some of my oil pastel drawings as models to kick start my painting. Take a look at the lower left panel of this piece below.
fields-n-trees

I decided to enlarge that as a separate painting. It didn’t have enough design elements to hold interest, but it made a great underpainting for the next still life I did.

I let the composition and colours of the underpainting lead my decisions in this still life. Finally, my two ways of working seem to be coming together- the realistic, and the freer, fantasy approach. I need the everyday objects to anchor and engage my attention. But  I also need the room to be able to play with colour and light. I also enjoy the freedom of not having to explain everything. Areas are left out of focus and a little mysterious.

That’s why I feel that the approach to painting which speaks most to me is as poetry. Distilling the essence of something without explaining the magic away.

A lot of realistic painting bores me because of the intellectual approach. Just imitating the likeness of something even if technically well done isn’t necessarily art. As either viewer or maker, it doesn’t bring me anywhere new, it doesn’t open any doors in my heart or soul.

Here is a merged photo of the still life over the under painting.

merged-layers

More in this series coming soon.

Back to work

October 1, 2016

It has been a challenging summer dealing with various health issues. But now I have energy again to share some of my life with anyone interested.

Making artwork has never really stopped. Some weeks after the op, I was already painting a copy of a  Matisse stillife. Spring inspired me to paint trees, then I got sick in June and things ground to a halt for awhile. Around that time I started sewing a quilt by hand, having bought 2 packs of beautiful Tilda cotton squares on sale. I liked the slow pace and the kind of mindless precise work.

Fall brought new inspiration. My last post had been in June and, with the onion paintings, I had broken through to a new way of working, .

onions2

Onions2 acrylic

It was kind of intimidating to try and pick that up again, I’d tried and failed a few times. So I decided to ease into painting again by doing something familiar. I feel most comfortable working in defined areas, like patchwork really. My oil pastel drawings tend to begin as grids, so I chose a few of my favourites and began copying them in acrylics.

It is so true that just working, regardless of being inspired or not, most always opens up the next step.

Even though I stopped again after completing these 2 below, doing them launched me into a new phase in my painting. More about that in the next post. Meanwhile…

When stuck in one medium it is often helpful to go to another. I decided to make collages out of some old oil pastel drawings. I did one a day for a week, here they are:


take care, til next time.