Still Life Painting in Progress

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.img_5588web

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. img_5527webI 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.

img_5520webSome of the dark background gray has been applied.img_5521webA few objects are starting to emerge.img_5522webMy brushwork is very loose and deliberately blurry at this point.img_5523web

Most of the objects are taking shape.

img_5528webA little further along.img_5529webI’ve added more blue to liven up the background. Most of that will go away later.img_5530webMore refinement seen in some forms.

img_5531webThe 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.img_5576webThe finished painting, “Symbols of Creation”, oil on canvas, 20 x 24. img_5586webIn 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.




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