Friday, October 4, 2013
"Stocks and Butter Knife"
This painting reflects my interest in William Nicholson's still life paintings and compositions. I wrote a post or two about him a while ago, see here.
I paint a lot of still lifes (still lives? does anybody out there know the correct plural of this?) and I've put many of them on circular panels. To my mind, this format implies either of two things: 1. spiritualism and the timeless, or time-based and circular, universe, or 2. intense concentration or focus, such as using binoculars.
I'm interested in using shadows as devices in composition as well as making a statement about form moving in and out of the light. All those edges in the painting are compositional devices as well.
Just looking at this painting brings back the memory of having all those stocks in the room while I was painting them and being close to them for a long time. Those are big heavy blooms on those stalks. (Actually, those are called "panicles". I can't believe I still remember that from Botany 101. I like knowing the names of things, I should warn you about this if this is the first time you're reading this blog.)
The panicles seem to keep growing with time as flowers open up and start to weigh down the top part of the stem. This causes the shadows to shift and if you're not quick about it, the whole mass shifts and you'll have to re-do the painting. One of these panicles grew out toward my direction and so I've painted it with more texture and opaque paint, one of the technical ways to show closer relative distance in traditional painting techniques. I'm not sure you can see this in the photo, though.
The closest item to the viewer is the butter knife and this is where I've reserved my thickest paint. I really liked putting it a little off the edge of the shelf here - it's an often-used device in representational painting to show space and distance in the painting plane.
Have you ever smelled stocks? They're sweet and powerful, one of those smells that you either love or you hate. Somebody brought me a bundle of them long ago when I was home trying to recuperate from a hospital stay. I was in bad shape and couldn't leave the room much so that smell really stays in my memory. But oddly, I don't associate the smell with any bad feelings, I associate the smell with being cared for and special. Smell is an odd sense, isn't it? Primitive, really, you can try to educate it and tell it to behave itself, but it's the mysterious wild child of your senses.