It has been a while since I have been able to post any new work. I have found the lack of progress incredibly frustrating. Over the summer I decided that I would change the subject of my still lifes, as I had become a bit bored with all the teapots etc. Following on from the Gwanwyn project and how pleased I was with my still life of pears, I decided that fruit and vegetables were the way to go and so I began looking at other still life artists and decided I liked the old classic still life and especially Cézanne.
This is the pear still life that I created at the Gwanwyn Club. We were only allowed to use three colours; yellow ochre, Payne’s grey and white. I was allowed a tiny touch of red for the top of one of my pears. It was this painting that ignited my interest in fruit and veg!
I liked the idea of a limited palette, as I had used with the pears still life, so I began with a simple still life of a couple of apples on a white cloth. Using Payne’s grey, burnt sienna and white.
I was feeling rather pleased with myself having achieved quite a classic feel to the folds of the white cloth and got good feedback when I presented it at the group critique. Until I presented it at my personal tutorial with John. While he appreciated my efforts, he shot my idea down in flames with the words “But where are you in this painting? Where is your personality?” And so I was back to square one. One painting scrapped, to be forever unfinished! What was I going to paint?
It was after a night out drinking with the Art Society that I came up with an idea as a bit of a joke really. I never thought, for one minute, that John would take it seriously. At the end of the night when I got home I took off the three things that women take off first after a night out; my bra, my boots and my earrings. Being slightly inebriated I tossed them to one side and went to bed! I awoke the next morning and looked at the heap on the floor and thought ‘That would make an interesting still life’. When I jokingly mentioned it to John, he said “Okay let’s go with it, but let’s start by seeing if you can paint just a bra on it’s own” and that is how it began…my still lifes of bras!!
My work on fruit still life was not all for nothing however. Looking at Cézanne’s work, I saw how he used the same colour in his background as he did with his subject, giving the whole painting balance. I decided to try two paintings, one on a dark blue background, the other on a bright orange background. I wanted to see if the background colour made a difference to the painting.
I used the same blue (ultramarine) that I used in the bra, in the background, to give the painting harmony. As you can see from the first photo, while the orange was visible there was a difference in how the colours around it behaved; the blue looking more vibrant. However, because the paint was opaque due to the white mixed in with it, the orange and the dark blue in the other painting were obscured and you couldn’t see any difference between the two paintings. Because of this I decided not to continue with the second picture because I would not be learning anything new from it.
I began building up the layers of colour adding in reflective shadows in the white cloth background. I worked mostly from a photograph, which brings it’s own challenges. Photos flatten perspective so I had to keep this in mind all the way through, adapting my work as I went. I enjoyed painting this bra, the shapes it formed were quite exciting to try to capture, although it was not easy to depict the lace, making it look like you could see through it. I will share more work-in-progress photos in part 2. I hope you enjoy what you have seen so far!