Monday, September 2, 2013

Goat’s Beard Still Life Painting

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Each time I begin a new piece of art, I set out to learn something.  In my new flat here in Florence, Italy, I have set up a still life.  I was inspired when I found a blank linen canvas left by my friends Milixa and Elkin, painters who lived in this flat before me.  The canvas is long and narrow, my favorite proportion for paintings.

Over a year ago a sweet Florentine friend of mine for many years and I were taking a walk outside near her home.  As we talked and walked past a vacant lot, Hafiza gathered what most people would have considered weeds.  I know something of her eye and her heart, though, and I knew that I would soon ooh and ahh, as many others have, over her natural treasures.  She gave me a handful of goodies, including three stalks with elongated pale green buds on one end.  I took them home that day in May, and the next morning, I awoke to spherical GIANT wish makers!  No, not dandelions, so much larger:  The flower is called “Goat’s Beard,” but apparently there are many varieties of this.

I gave one to my Florentine flatmate  that day.  One of the other two was damaged in transit to my new home earlier this summer.  Thus, I decided to create a painting sonner than planned, before I lost these gifts from a cherished friend.  Looking around the flat, I found a few object of interest and ultimately decided to try painting a still life composition on this long rectangular canvas.

I wanted to paint with very little color to see how many different tones I could create.  I was also curious as to whether or not I could paint some objects without actually copying the forms I saw in front of me.  In addition, I wanted to work more with paint layers.  This means that in general, I will wait several days before adding something to a part of the canvas, giving the paint underneath a chance to dry as much as I could.

I include an image here of my setup.  It is modeled upon the Sight-Size Method, but obviously I am not following it very rigorously.  I like the color and texture of the ceramic bowl, but I did not want to repeat the round shape that is in the flower.  So, I put a candle under it for height.  The paper towel roll is there so I can see how much the light fades on a cylinder as it nears the bottom.  My canvas is not aligned horizontally simply because I was working on the boards when I took this image and it is better for my back if I do not bend over as I paint.  Also, you may see that the camera was much lower than my eye when viewing the setup.  This gives the painting a different perspective, looking down upon the scene.

So, let us see how this movie ends!  It is back to the drawing board for me.

Happy Labor Day, USA!

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