Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Winter 2008-09 Still Life

There are two still life paintings from this period. Below is a painting from December 2008. I had a murky, multi-textured, detailed David Leffel-inpsired scene in mind before I started. I picked out all the inorganic items from an antique store, except for the backdrop, which is just an old bedsheet. I just happened to have oranges and tangerines on hand, which to my surprise looked decent against the brassy tinted background. The arrangement occurred accidentally, almost as soon as I had placed everything on the table. As for lighting, I wanted the moodiness of a dark background with a single, directional light. To get that effect, I had to paint only at night, with the overhead light off, and with a lamp positioned next to the table. I painted in the hallway, looking in through the door. The canvas is 16x20, as my intent was a finished painting, rather than a study.

After four one-hour sittings with the painting, I was still at a rough stage, but I decided to stop. I felt that I had learned enough from the rough study I had completed, and I didn't want to belabor the freshness of the strokes with details that–given my tendencies–would probably throw off the balance of light and dark. 

The light-dark balance had been an ongoing struggle. Below is the original monochromatic underpainting. I had used this image as a reference for keeping my values correct after adding color.

I painted another still life early this, probably in February. Nearly everything about the painting is accidental; I was actually painting the adjacent couch, when my eye was suddenly caught by the beauty of sunlight pouring through the window and onto the coffee table. I wiped off the canvas and began painting that scene instead. I removed one or two bits of clutter from the foreground, but other than that, the arrangement is purely "candid." 

This painting is on 8x10 canvas and took about three one or two-hour sittings. I hope to do more still life paintings that capture spilling light this way. The reflections, refraction, translucence, backlighting, and undulating colors all make this painting interesting for me.