Friday, November 30, 2007
Still Life To The Death
18 x 24
It always amazes me that no matter how much we artists paint we never seem to run out of ideas or be inspired afresh by the things we see or experience. I'm always struck by the fragrant and juicy beauties piled high in supermarket produce sections, while browsing a Chinese grocer or gift shop, or working in my own garden. The attached painting Royal Turban is one such inspired painting. It needed no props to glorify it's incredible shape and colour, only a soft, natural, north light to show it to it's best advantage. It was a real challenge though, normally I paint from 5 x 7 up to 16 x 20 so this big 18 x 24 presented some interesting challenges.
Lighting was a bit of an issue as I'd set up my lights and was quite pleased with the dramatic look, however when I left the studio and turned out the lights I happened to glance back and the north light shining on the turban squash was quite stunning, turning the highlights to pinks and subtle lavenders. How could I not paint that? The problem with painting from life here in Canada is that the days are very short in the winter time. The days are endlessly long in our wonderful summers but so very short come winter. The brightest light came in from 12:00-2:30 which became my time to paint this incredible king of squashes, but it wasn't quite enough to light my palette adequately so that became somewhat of a struggle. At this size I knew this was going to take a while.
The next issue was the fact that the squash had already been hanging around the studio for some time as I completed illustration assignments and other paintings. When I was finally able to get to the squash it was showing signs of aging and by the time I was nearing the end of the painting it was starting to get leaky and mouldy. Each day before painting I had to wipe off the haze of mould that had grown overnight but managed to finish it before it collapsed.
When you are painting one solitary item at this size every single stroke counts. Any stroke placed badly will be distracting and bothersome. Brushstrokes in a simple background placed at the wrong angle will catch the light and stand out like a pink ruffle on a wrestler, all the more noticeable when you are painting larger.
All in all it was a great and wonderful challenge, I had my doubts but couldn't bear to give up on that squash.
Normally most of my paintings go out for sale but I don't think I'm ready to give this one up just yet. Maybe later.