Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Things that Memories are Made of

I took on a challenge this past week.  I wanted to try my hand at a very large stilllife.  The largest and most complicated one I have done so far.  I had a few days off work and my significant other was out of town.  No interruptions, no responsibilities except what I put upon myself.  Not a good way to live your life, but a great way to spend a mini-vacation!
I took some daily progression shots that I thought I would share here.  It was difficult to get a good photo because of the dark colors and struggling with the glare.  Because the painting was so large I couldn't manuever it to a good lighting situation so much either.  I did the best I could, so please try to overlook the misrepresentation within the photo examples!
I hope you will enjoy seeing the progression.
I lost myself in "the zone" for 6 days and feel like the time was a dream....a little weird.
Because I usually work alla prima (wet-in-wet) I had to alter my technique to adjust for drying paint layers.  
The Things that Memories are Made of     31x37   o/c

To begin with...I think it is very important to mention the "prepainting" hours and days I spent preparing to start the layout.  Much time went into thinking and planning the composition.  The color combinations, the textures, the shapes and how they would work together for my design.  I thought a lot about what I wanted to convey in this painting..the mood or the feeling.  I laid it out, changed it, laid it out again...and again.  I found the old Teddy at a Goodwill store, the other objects I had, most of them for years.  When I had the lay out where I thought I wanted it, I sat down and studied it. I spent a long time just "walking" my eyes through the composition, making minor adjustments to create just the right flow of the design. 
Once I was satisfied with this, I started preparing my materials...stretching my canvas, making sure I had enough paint, etc............Now the fun can really begin.

The first day of painting appears to progress more quickly than it really does.  Because this stage is just a block in of shapes, concentrating on getting my drawing accurate, and capturing the values with a wash of Transparent Brown goes very quickly.  I find that I still have time to start developing my area of focus with more color and thicker paint.'s been a long day!  But I like the start!

Day two of painting..slows
things down dramatically        

Now I have started to narrow in on the
 areas I most want to develop.  My area of interest.  
More detailing and adjusting on Teddy, 
and expanding out to the pot,
 and starting on the greenery and dried weeds. 
 Believe it or not I spent almost as much time
 today painting
as yesterday but it hardly shows!

On the third day I got lost in the greenery! 
Just couldn't get myself passed it.  It was pretty complicated, there was a lot 
happening there but
 I didn't want it to become 
more important than Teddy.  
I detailed, then wiped out the detail...did it again.  And so the day went.

Finally..more progress again!
I'm amazed that it has been four days!  I'm going to bring some of the objects to a higher level of completion.  The old antique Teakettle is so much fun to work on! Not happy with the design in some of the objects now, they will change before it is done.  I've added the color to the table top and can't decide if I like it.............The box has taken some time and I've had to rearrange some of the dried weeds on the tabletop....they just were distracting to me.  And so goes the journey!

Day 5     

I hope you've enjoyed the process with me and I hope you like the choices and decisions I've made throughout.  I guess that's what painting is...a series of decisions and choices, until you can't think of anything else to do!
I hope all my friends and family have had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of doing "just what they wanted to do!"


  1. Barbara, It is so much fun to walk with you throughout your thought processes. I am starting to set up a still life today, a much simpler one than the one you tackled! It takes me forever to set it up until I have the light touching it just right, and the subjects in just the right position. It was nice to see how you started your painting, and I love the photos showing the progression. That's the way I watching and studying all of you really good artists in the region. Thanks!

    1. Gene...we all learn from each other, that is certainly true! I can't tell you enough how much I have appreciated your continual support through the struggles of the artistic journey! I look forward to seeing your latest!

  2. Been following your might want to enter this show... seems up your alley.

    1. Thank you Brenda! I appreciate the suggestion...I will check it out!