Still Life No. 1

I love paintings of glass and pewter and copper and fruits, and have collected quite a few of them, but I was never interested in painting them myself. But painting is painting, so when two fellow plein air artists lured me to play hooky from the law office on a cold winter Friday, I went along for the ride. The ride included a morning spent exploring Trader Joe’s–my first trip to that extraordinary grocery store. When we returned to the hostess’s home, we used some of our recent acquisitions to set up a pretty challenging still life: two ceramic parrots — the easiest; three glass containers — doable; collection of vari-colored miniature tomatoes (from Trader Joe’s) — difficult to distinguish from other possible vari-colored round things; and vari-colored tortilla chips with corn relish (Trader Joe’s again)–impossible. Then we ran out of light since we had spent most of our day shopping and eating. (I’m not sure, but I suspect that most still lifes take a few days to paint.) I made major improvements back at home, after consulting my reference photo. Here is the original painting next to the reference photo:

It was that dark shape in the reference photo that convinced me to darken the entire background, much like I remember the Old Masters’ still lifes.

But wait! There’s more! I am taking a course at the NH Institute of Art with Peter Clive on the subject of drawing in color, and he is starting us off with still life arrangements. Here is Still Life No. 2 done in mixed media, to wit, pen and pencil:

I enjoyed this one very much. Crosshatching is fun. We were limited, in this exercise, to complementary colors, meaning we could use yellow and purple, or green and red, or blue and orange, which last was my choice. My favorite object is the pewter pitcher in the foreground–the others are mere stage dressing. I was astounded by the fact that I could convey the idea of gray metal using blue and orange pencils.

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