I've never painted cherries before, and although it seemed very hard at first to paint them as looking obviously like cherries, I discovered that it's all in the reflection and highlights, plus of course the selectively saturated reds.
It's time to loosen up, after two months of working slowly and trying to put down everything I see. I painted this study in one five-hour shot and will continue this method until I feel like slowing down again.
Dark purple eggplant is gorgeously colored and glossy, picking up surrounding colors with depth and subtlety. Yet they are so very dark that I like to place them next to lighter, more saturated colors. Plus I find this juxtaposition of the pink ribbon on the lumbering shape of the eggplant funny.
The world has come to stillness, and time seems to expand. Now there is more than enough time for painting, enough time for taking hour long walks, for reading, for catching up with people on the phone. Enough time to be really, really lazy, and for worrying about the future and then coming up with plans.
The trick for me as an artist is to not allow the anxiety from this pandemic to kill my desire to create. My classes are all cancelled, and my studio mates have moved back to their home studios, so I have plenty of time, which feels strange.
Here is part of a poem a friend posted the other day that has been helpful for me. Perhaps you'll like it too.
This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let The wire brush of doubt Scrape from your heart All sense of yourself And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous, Time will come good; And you will find your feet Again on fresh pastures of promise, Where the air will be kind And blushed with beginning.
Excerpt from his books, To Bless the Space Between Us
Here's a quick study to prepare for a still life class. If I don't do the exercise myself, I'm not teaching it as well as I could.
Sometimes I spend a month or more on a painting, as perfectionism can sometime grab me by the heels, but it's important to sometimes just paint fast and not take it too seriously. Isn't there a cookbook titled "Fix it and Forget it"? I think sometimes that's good advice.
This painting went through a lot of stages, from loose to tight to loose to tight...trying to find a good balance between the two.
I like the compositional tension between the strong red in the background competing for attention with the more subtle colors of the shell. Bold, saturated colors usually come forward in a painting, dull colors retreat, so I suppose I was trying to see if I could break one of the rules and have it work.
When I'm painting up on the roof, and the sun comes out, there are so many beautiful scenes that I think I'll never live long enough to capture them all. When the sun goes behind clouds all the magic is gone. Painting landscape, for me at least, leaves me entirely at the mercy of the skies. Today I started something, the sun disappeared and I sat waiting and waiting, then went downstairs to do the dishes, wash my hair, answer emails. A couple hours later the sun returned and I scrambled up the ladder to begin another. It's pretty handy to have my outdoor studio right above me, but I feel like nature is in charge, not me!
I had only a four-hour window to work on this radish bunch, then when I returned to them the next day they had moved mercilessly out of position. Frustrated, I worked on this from memory today.
Lately nothing holds my focus unless it's a subject that I have to grab quickly before it changes or vanishes. Landscapes, still lives of fresh vegetables or fruits, or life drawings- all are of living things and seem so much more interesting to me than inanimate objects.
I'd never heard of Fairy Tale Eggplant before I spotted these at the local farmer's market, and fell in love. At the end of a long day of painting, I sauteed them with garlic, parsley, tomatoes and peppers. They have none of the bitterness of globe eggplant, and cook quickly. Just darling things.
I am developing a new way of working, trying to keep my work looking fresh and inspired but not too slap-dash. I choose a subject the day before, or very early in the day, then spend 6-8 very focused hours trying to capture it. Painting something with ephemeral beauty (or strangeness) helps me to feel that I better get my impression down quickly, as the second day it will have changed too much. I take a black and white photo of the subject at the end of the day.
Then I turn the painting around and don't look at it for 2-3 days. When I finally check it out, I'm immediately struck by what works and what doesn't, and make a few changes or additions with the use of the photo, working for under an hour. I keep telling myself that the photographic image is not my boss- I'm the boss.
It's fun, more fun at least than working things to death and losing the original feeling of inspiration.