Part 2. Project Still Life, Exercise Still life with natural objects.

fruit picture 2


Part 2, Project Still Life Drawing in Paint

final image 07092017

Final Painted Sketch

Above two pictures of stages of the painting.


Work towards the final painting.


Photograph of actual area painted.


For this exercise I was to look around my house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there I could adjust it if needed but choose objects that are not too complex. I had to study the objects and look at the hard lines and angles. Notice flowing lines of fabric, shiny areas, wood grain etc.  Make drawings that explore the linear aspects then chose a support format and scale.

I did several sketches and decided to go with the painting above because of the lines, squares and rectangles.  I didn’t want to concentrate on colour but on shape so I decided to keep the bulk of the painting in pastel and use the lamp and cat as contrast. In that respect, I think the painting worked, however I know what I am looking at so that may be in part due to my knowledge with regards to the brief. I didn’t do the background as I wanted, it had less texture than I had wanted, but the texture  brought the background too far forward, so I learnt the benefit of my rag not only put texture into the paint but also removed paint I didn’t want.  I tried to rescue it a little and scratched lines into the paint to reveal the underpainting.

The painting was to be drawn in fine paint and lines retained until the infill of colour when the lines could if wanted be strengthened.

I started the painting with a pale blue and light pink brown wash. Then proceeded to draw with a blue grey line. I did eventually alter the colour of some lines and the width, but the original drawn paintwork can be seen throughout the painting.  The geometric shapes reminded me of the recent Still Life research I had just done where Matisse did an abstract version of De Heems original painting called The Dessert. I found this inspired me to look at the geometric shapes within this still life. I liked being able to see the original painted lines for some reason they did add to the picture. Although this painting wasn’t abstracted like the cubist work, it did bring to mind the work by George Braque’s work with his lines and shapes.

All in all the background gave the impression of foliage but was on the verge of being overworked. Where the curtains are probably my favourite point and with just a few lines and no real blending worked well, I was surprised at how with just a few brushstrokes the fold could look so impressive. In future I will try and not overwork areas and look at how less brushstrokes can achieve more.


Part 2, Research point 2,

For this research, I was to look at the work of some of the 17th Century Dutch still life and flower painters. Make notes on paintings that I especially admire and find out more about the techniques that were employed at the time. Then research at least 1 painting that has iconographic significance. Which of the objects depicted carry particular meaning and what was that meaning?

Then explore the development of still life through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For example, look at how traditional still life subjects were dealt with in some early Cubist painting by Braque and Picasso, investigate how some contemporary artists are interpreting this genre.

17th Century  was known as the Golden Age it was a time when the Netherlands was recovering from the ravages of war with Spain, a time when their National pride helped develop their artistic heritage. Still life although not thought of on the same level as other genre was becoming very popular. The more affluent were able to furnish their houses and the need for art grew. Artwork was also created smaller to increase affordability. Still life was more than just subject painting it had meaning and stimulated the thoughts. Vanitas painting was a form of still life it was about beauty and how this can fade over time. One of my favourite still life artists of this time is Pieter Claesz  his Vanitas paintings are really powerful.  I feel this is showing the end, the end of time as the watch lays like it has had its last tic toc, the glass on the side empty seems to say its pleasure has gone. The skull showing all that remains of life. We may not see things in the same way, but we all see the meaning. It is so beautifully painted. The brushstrokes look delicate and I would love to see it in the flesh so to speak.


peiter Claesz

Having looked at the 17th Century flower painters I enjoy the work by the artist called Jan Davidsz De Heem  his work moved away from the almost sterile statuesque style, to one which showed movement and was inclusive of fauna, although as can be seen by the bouquet shown below- one of my favourites- he still followed a loose triangle in shape. I love the way some of the bouquet spills over the lip of the table giving a depth to the picture. The blooms placed together may not be in bloom at the same time and were unlikely to have been painted direct from the vase, it is more likely they were painted from sketches either drawn earlier or from bought, borrowed images.  The other thing I like about this painting are the insects that appear within the bouquet, every time I look I see another.

Not only is this arrangement far more natural in the flower placement, there seems to be a meaning within the picture, the expensive blooms of tulips, which could in some cases cost more than a man’s yearly wage, appear throughout, within the same bouquet are grasses and pea pods. It makes you think that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or how much something is worth, we are all going to suffer the same fate and experiences. I wonder if this is the reason for the insects seen crawling in and out of the flowers.


flower d

The Dessert Still Life by De Heem below is part of one of his more elaborate pieces, these were known as Pronkstilleven. The beautiful centre pieces and enormous amount of expensive food on the table, is thought provoking when you think of the cost. I must admit this may be a good picture to show his Pronkstilleven work, but I really want to pick up the balanced dish and place it where it is more secure, it is set in such a precarious manner, or could this be to show the precarious balance of good fortune. The light is cleverly managed not only shown coming through what looks like a window, which can be seen on the bottles, but there is light coming from behind the viewer.



Looking forward through the centuries still life painters continue to paint still life but the need for the almost photorealistic restricted painting and storytelling has not been the route for all, but still life through time has often been a pictorial message.  Many centuries after the Dessert Still Life was painted by De Heem , Matisse was inspired enough by the painting to produce an abstract version of his own, where he highlighted the geometric shapes within De Heems original painting. Out of the corner of my eye I am always expecting to see a set of old type scales for some reason.



The Matisse painting above reminds me of the cubism practiced by Georges Braque and his geometric approach to still life. I find his paintings confuse my mind rather like the little toys I had as a child where you had to move around the squares until you moved them in order to create the picture.

His painting Picture Candlestick and Black Fish 1943, shown below is one such picture I find this so confusing and melancholic, and there is that Lemon making its appearance again as in many a still life.



I think the 20th Century has gone the way of other genre of art, in that anything goes and is accepted. All thoughts of Still Life being a lower form of art seem to be fading and we have moved into the 20th Century with no holes bared. The master of minimalist painting must be Giorgi Morandi a favourite of mine, his pots painted in hue and tone producing a pleasant restful feel. I love this one below where one blue and white striped pot stands out among the other objects inline.



We also have still life appearing in Pop Art, as in the picture below by Roy Lichtenstein,



and sculptures like, that of  Hans Op de Beecks Peacock 2015. It is a series of 2 Vanitas mixed media sculptures made from pigmented plaster and wood. It follows the hallmark still life of the 17th Century Dutch painters with the vanity of the Peacock, the skull showing end of life,  as do unlit candles,  in the picture of the sculpture below  there are some modern aspects within the artwork like the ashtray and drinks can.


One of my favourite genres of artwork is still life and I have found this research fascinating, I have only just touched the surface, but even within my limited research it does show how important to artists this genre is. It can show a snapshot of time, hold a hidden meaning and the feelings of the artists who make still life. I for one don’t feel it is a lesser form of art, for me it is every bit equal to any other genre, it is a snapshot of history, mans’ thoughts and beliefs within that moment.

Green, T., 2017. Modern Art Notes. [Online]
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Jr, A. K. W., 2017. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. [Online]
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Maslova-Levin, E., 2017. Looking into the core of a painting: how Henry Matisse opened up Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s “Table of Desserts. [Online]
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Unknown, 2013. Acquavella Galleries. [Online]
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[Accessed 21st August 2017].

Unknown, 2017. Dessert Still Life. [Online]
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Unknown, 2017. Dutch Painting 17th Century. [Online]
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Unknown, 2017. Pieter Claesz. [Online]
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Unknown, 2017. THE VERMEER NEWSLETTER. [Online]
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Unknown, unknown. Giorgio Morandi. [Online]
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[Accessed 21st August 2017].

unknown, unknown. Marianne Boesky Gallery. [Online]
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[Accessed 21st August 2017].

Part 2, Close to home, Complementary colours




For this exercise, I was to draw a circle divide it into 12 parts and and mix the colours from Chevreuls colour circle or wheel beginning with primary re, red-orange and so on.

Next I had to consider the twelve colours from Chevreuls colour circle and lay each colour next to its opposite or complementary on a grey ground. Try to match the darker tone to the lighter by adding white. Then I had to make mixtures of each pair of complementary colours and describe the resulting colour.

One thing that I have notice was I didn’t seem to be able to match tones as easy on a grey ground I found this very difficult as can be seen its easier when I look at the colour wheel which does emphasis Chevruels view that adjacent colours can alter the tone. I do a lot of work in black and white and found it really disturbing that I find it so hard to do with colour on a grey.

As can be seen with the mix of the pair of complementary colours I managed to get the tone a little better, hopefully a learning curve and not letting the grey ground influence my tone. When mixing complementary colours in relatively even amounts the colours in the main went to a version of brown, well nearly all, blue and orange was more a grey because of the lack of red pigment and the yellow purple to green beige in relation to the amount of red in the purple. I have noticed Complementary colours are just that and complement one another, enhancing each other’s visual appearance.

Painting 1, Understanding Colour, Broken or tertiary colours

For this exercise, I was to make a scale between an orange red and a green blue. Try to maintain consistent tonal values across the scale by adding a little white. At the midpoint add more white, the result should be grey. It goes on to say this is known as a broken or tertiary colour and this type of colour makes up the appearance of much of our world. Then I was to make a carefully graded scale between a pair of secondary colours like Orange to violet once again the middle colours should lose Chroma.

I have tried reading up about this and can’t find the term broken applied in the way I am reading it so, my only interpretation of this is the colours are laid side by side as in the broken application of paint used by the Impressionist. It is fascinating how colours react, secondary colours do seem to be muddy in areas, the first few steps from the original colour seem to be the most clear. The primary colours do behave better when mixed giving a less muddy appearance.

I applied more white in the centre of both exercises the primary exercise became a blue grey  the secondary was a beige, which went with the muddy look form the mixing of the colours. For both exercised tone appeared to be relatively even I was surprised as this was the first attempt and totally by eye, I don’t find keeping tone similar very easy.  Exercises like this can be fun and a good way to learn about the colours we are using and how to mix them so it is an exercise worth practicing especially as different makes of paint can behave differently.

Cornwall Visit

I love Cornwall and its concentration of artists and art. St Ives is one of my favourite places though I have yet to go to the Tate itself. I always have the Mutt in tow and our furry friends are not allowed in, however Falmouth Art Gallery is always a joy to visit and although this time I wasn’t a fan of the abstract paintings hung by Winifred Nicholson it was a very interesting exhibition as I am interested in texture and brushstrokes fall within that category. There was less texture to the paintings than I would like to practice it was a learning curve as to how brushstrokes play a great part in a painting. They can show texture and movement their placement altering the light as you walk around the painting. I enjoy the colours of Potted Flowers, Prismatic No.2 1978. It was said Winifred Nicholson was inspired by looking through a Prism and seeing the colours, I feel this can be seen in Potted Flowers and Sunroom 1980 whose brushstrokes give texture and look like they have be dashed on with a large brush. I bought a book called Effortless Brushstrokes at Falmouth Gallery which is a lovely little book with paintings from a number of artists who are masters at the expert ease of their work.

I am happy to say among many studios, I also visited Whites Old Workshop in St Ives, and took time to look in at Hani Mroz’s new work, she works with Mixed Media, her work has movement and life and although more abstract than I, the texture and tactile look draws me to her paintings each time I visit.

Also, Jenny Hirsts work at Porthminster Gallery St Ives who likes to add texture into her work with collage, rubbing and scraping of paint. The emotion within the picture is palpable her work hold emotion and movement. The picture of St Ives is beautiful.


St Agnes Little Feathers Gallery is the place to see an artist called Gary Hall, he works in Acrylic and the one thing I learnt from his paintings is that fine detail can be achieved with the paint. I have only just started using it and have had great difficulty in getting a fine mark. Not so for Gary his work is very detailed the tiniest of marks are accurately placed to produce a realistic style of work.



Painting 1, Exercise Primary and secondary colour mixing

colour scale xxx

black and white


This exercise was more complicated, I had to identify my primary colours then arrange them on my palette in yellow, reds, and blues. I had previously, as requested prepared a coloured ground using my neutral grey and I was first to lay all my yellows, then blues, and reds next to each other and I was to notice the different shade of each colour and identify the most intense in each one.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many colours to choose from and felt I may not be able to do this exercise well, but I experimented with the colours I had and felt I learnt just as much from the few colours I owned, as I would with many. It really made me look at the variations between each colour well.

The colours that I thought were my most intense were Canary Yellow, Rouge, and Cobalt Blue.

I then had to make a scale from Yellow through to Red, Yellow through to Blue and the Red through to Blue. I was to make a note of how midway along the scale of Yellow to Red produces the secondary colour Orange. Yellow to Blue produced Green, however the Red to Blue produces a muddy looking colour which isn’t Violet. I feel this was achieved, I was then to try other hues to achieve violet. I tried different versions with the limited colours I had and feel it would have worked better if my Ultramarine Blue hadn’t been Green shade. In the end, I found a mix of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue, tinted with a very small amount of Purple to soften the green worked the best. This can be seen top right. I found this exercise fun and a great learning curve of how hues with just a tint of another can make a dramatic difference.

The last part of this exercise I am not sure I did correct, but I believe I was to repeat the first three exercises adding enough white to my chosen primary’s to maintain a consistent tonal value. I did this by putting three equal amounts of white on my palette and adding enough of each colour to produce what I felt was the same tonal value.  Midway between the Red and Blue scale the pigment was supposed to look Brownish Grey, mine was more like a Pink Grey, I feel if I had added more pigment this tone could have been achieved better.

I changed everything to greyscale and was surprised by how close in tonal value some of the scales were, in fact a previous exercise was closer in tonal value than the last three which I tried to keep the same. It was an eye opener as I do a lot of Graphite work that relies on the use of tonal value and I expected to have better judgement. The Yellow had a greater difference in tonal value than the Red and Blue which were similar this I think made trying to keep the tonal value the same difficult.