Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring Portraits and Still Life

This spring I varied my routine by painting portraits and still life rather than my usual landscape. I wrote in a post about two years earlier that working on my most difficult subject, plein air landscape, could be a way to improve my ability with painting other subjects. I think I may have been onto something. After the grueling difficulty of painting thousands of translucent leaves under changing sunlight in the sticky heat, I feel much more in control when I paint these politely unmoving, indoor subjects. All of these oil paintings are hanging at Carrie's Coffee, Etc. for the month of June, if any Nashville locals want to see them in person.

Here's what may be the only finished painting of Megan I will ever paint. Not long after I started painting at a portrait session where she modeled, she had a schedule conflict and had to quit modeling. She always had an interesting choice of clothing, such as this Victorian-collared shirt she bought at a vintage consignment store.

Megan on Black - 8x10

I had just bought this pitcher at Hermitage Antique Mall because it looked highly "paintable." I was intrigued by the turquoise and leaden colors that reflected off its darkly tarnished surface. I had purchased the roses, but the dogwood flower was clipped from the tree blossoming in my front yard. I had to keep cutting fresh clippings, because the flowers would wilt during the hours I spent painting. Sometimes still life is not so still!

Antique Pitcher - 8x10

I had bought this brass bowl two years ago at the same antique store where I had recently bought the silver pitcher. I love to paint metal, and this bowl has irresistibly paintable scalloped edges and ornamental handles. The rose was clipped from a bush in my front yard. (I don't live in Florida, so all fruit is from the grocery store.)

Brass Bowl - 8x10

The iris is my favorite flower. These irises grew alongside the roses in my yard, often strangled by the sprawling thorns. (I'm not a gardener at all!) I loved working with the whites, neutrals, and translucencies in this scene. 

Iris - 8x10

This is a two-hour paint sketch of Megan. I had not yet deepened her hair to its black color, but I think the brown works well with the overall tan color scheme of this painting.

Megan on Tan - 8x10 

These Clementine orange slices, with their varying levels of translucency, were great fun to paint. However, the fluffy little muffin was not! For some reason I had a tough time getting just the right look in its puffed-out, slightly crusty crown. Maybe I was distracted from wanting to eat it. 

Poppyseed Muffin - 5x5

The sunflower painting below is the only one that is not recent; I painted this one a year ago. I can see the difference in painting style from a year ago to now. My drawing in the painting below is less precise, but some viewers may like how the paint has a thicker, "brushier" application. Now I feel in the desire to paint sunflowers again! They all seem to have a different mood, like a cluster of ragamuffin characters.

Sunflowers - 8x10

This quote comes to mind, but I don't affect to think my flowers even approach the league of the painter speaking: 

To me, they are like enchanting but naughty children, each crying for attention—or each perhaps, a bittersweet thought—but flowers are never simply pretty adornments.

Richard Schmid, Alla Prima