I thought it might be interesting for people to see how some of my paintings and sculptures are created. In this series, I show the process of painting a somewhat unusual still life. This photo shows the still life set-up in my studio. (Some of the fruits and flowers are already decaying, so I took photos of them earlier to help me later on.) I spent several hours arranging and re-arranging these objects, trying to find a unified composition.
The intent of the painting was to try to symbolize creation, by showing as many different kinds of things from nature as possible: plant, animal, and mineral forms.
I’m holding a piece of peacock copper and a small quartz crystal, both of which were enlarged in the painting.
This is my palette, an old film can which I put a lid on when not in use. The center area is used for mixing colors, and is cleaned off after each painting session. I often begin my paintings with a random colored acrylic underpainting, as seen below. Small bits and pieces of these colors often show in the finished painting, and help create a more lively surface. In a small way, it’s a process of creating “order out of chaos”. If you look closely, you can see some of the outlines of the objects. This is definitely not an approach for a beginner, as you have to be willing to accept a confusing surface and be able to live with it for a while.
Some of the dark background gray has been applied.A few objects are starting to emerge.My brushwork is very loose and deliberately blurry at this point.
Most of the objects are taking shape.
A little further along.I’ve added more blue to liven up the background. Most of that will go away later.More refinement seen in some forms.
The object in the lower right is desert rose gypsum, an interesting mineral. But I felt that it attracted too much attention, so I replaced it with a large geode which seems to fit the composition better. Revisions like this often happen, even later on in a painting. It’s sometimes hard to paint out something you worked several hours on already, but that’s what needs to happen sometimes to create a better painting. A butterfly and hummingbird make their appearance. I spent a lot of time on the internet finding just the right kinds of creatures. The objects have been clarified and details added.The finished painting, “Symbols of Creation”, oil on canvas, 20 x 24. In case you may be interested, the 14 objects in the painting are: alstromeria, gerber daisy, horned melon (kiwano), golden papaya, dragon fruit (pitaya), bartlett pear, quartz crystal, amethyst geode, peacock copper, seashell, sand dollar, rufous hummingbird, butterfly, and last but not least, a ladybug.