something entirely different - for me anyway - still life

Still Life with thanks to Sue and Jill. acrylic on canvas, 16x20 inches. Vivien Blackburn

Still life isn't my usual subject but today was a 'studio day' with a group I belong to. There were models - a woman in the morning and a 10 year old Asian girl in the afternoon or a huge 6 metre still life, set up by members Sue Sansome and Jill Hailes. It's years since I painted a still life so I decided that I'd go for that option.

They are both known for dynamic still life paintings so I knew they would set up something interesting. The colours and patterns changed along the length with spots and stripes and vividly patterned bowls, fruit, flowers - all sorts!

I settled on this section of blues and yellows and touches of red. I lugged along oils and acrylics thinking I would want my oils as well but ended up completing the painting just with acrylic inks and paints.

I moved objects around a little in paint, changing elements in the set up and tipped colour balances to suit the painting rather than stick with precisely what was there if it didn't work for me. There was a red mat, more vividly cadmium than I've painted it- but I don't really like paintings that are too luridly red/yellow/blue so I toned it down and deepened it. The top left corner was actually the walls of the room in a yukky brown and yellowy brown so I altered that to work with the rest of the image and bring in more blue.

The colours were vivid!

The bronze colour in the background top-left is a bit deeper and redder than the photo shows - it's got a scumbling of copper paint, which is reflecting the light a bit too much in the photo and making it seem paler than it is.

It was fun :>) and I was totally absorbed.


it's not as 'tight' as it looks in the top image

when I look at contemporary still life I often really like it and yet I never think to do any - what about you?

and critique???


Lindsay said…
HOw cheerful and light. I love the close up too of your loose brush work. It looks so lush up close.

I wondered what a carbon pencil is from your previous post. Is it charcoal?
vivien said…
I'm not sure Lindsay - it isn't quite like charcoal pencils but very similar. It's just labelled as a carbon pencil - I think some are made by Wolff

at the moment this isn't totally 'me' though :>(
Kim Denise said…
well, I often think to do still life, LOL....

Vivien, I love this! It's so not you, but I recognize the way you handle the paint, the edges, the colors. What a great setup to paint from! I don't seem to have the patience to make anything so elaborate, but I really need to make myself do it. Perhaps this will inspire.
dinahmow said…
I'm the last one to ask about still life! But your photo crops would make lovely postcards or ATCs.
vivien said…
I agree - it so isn't me!

Dinah I like the crops much better - I started off focusing in tighter and then made the decision to include more and changed it as a challenge to myself.

Looking at it today it's not one I'm fond of - the colours of the set up were so brash and bright and the composition isn't great and I wish I'd handled it a little more freely or done something more interesting or exciting with it.

Now Kim you DO crop tighter and I love your compositions - that's mroe the way I should have gone with this and it would have been more 'me'
Robyn said…
Wow, it's the sort of painting I want to crawl inside of and bask in the joy of it all! The last two crops are lovely too.

Even if you don't like this one as much as I do, your still life work is always beautiful and I look forward to seeing more of it.

Since I've been painting such bright colours myself lately, I'm wondering if we are celebrating the passing of dull winter and anticipating bright summer.
vivien said…
that could be right about the bright colours and the end of winter :>)

it's very cold but the little leaves are coming out on the trees ('the lowest boughs on the brushwood sheaf, round the elm tree bole are in tiny leaf ...'), the daffodils are 'quivering and dancing in the breeze' - and the Romantic poets woulda loved it!

Spring has sprung but we could do with a little Italian warmth
Laureline said…
Yes, great colors! Very Cezanne, with all that saturated blue!
You can do anything, Vivien. You never cease to impress me.
It's fun to open yourself up to different genres---this is another admirable thing about you, your receptivity to new approaches and genres and media.
vivien said…
thanks Laura :>) I'm full of self doubt on this one
Anita said…
I don't think I have ever seen a still life by you. How brave to do ALL those objects - I have heart failure thinking of doing more than a couple! I think you have a wonderful balance of objects - tall and low, and the composition and colours are superb. Very nice.
vivien said…
Hi Anita :>)

you should have seen the setup! there were about 5 or 6 large tables down the length of the room that were one continous still life, packed with items! I just selected part of it! .... and mentally moved a few nice objects into the picture and some dull ones out

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