It’s been at least a decade since I painted any representational still life paintings. I thought I had perhaps gotten past painting still lifes in favor of abstraction, but have recently found myself wanting to work perceptually again, only this time, with any luck (or should I say, with the development of skill), in a looser, more painterly way.
Here are the first three perceptual still life paintings I’ve done this century: Spongebob Squarepants was the first and is still a bit tight, then I painted Patrick Star and Squidward Tentacles. I think they came out pretty well. These are, of course, based on small plastic figurines of these characters.
I’m really enjoying working this way again, and hope to do more or less daily paintings if I can. The intervening decade of pushing myself further toward abstraction has been a very interesting journey so far. I plan to continue working abstractly as well doing the small still lifes; I don’t know yet if I will be doing both simultaneously or if I will do the still lifes for a while and then pick back up with the abstracts. Stay tuned.
Notes from “Thoughts About Painting” by Louis Finkelstein from “Painterly Painting,” 1971
“Between technique, vision, design, expression there is no seam; neither is one thing the cause and another the result.”
“Painterly…the subordination of individual objects to the sense of the circumambient medium, or the rendering of optical values as distinct from tactile, or as giving weight through color rather than through modeling, or as a distinction of focus through variations of brushstroke, etc.”
“Each painter’s idiosyncratic painting style is the…realization of several successive kinds of reading into the way paint symbolizes air, matter, space, light, flesh.”
“…sustaining of penetration so that the artist continually moves past a simply available solution to one which has greater depth.”
“What we take to be the same color when it has a vague edge is perceived completely differently from when it has a defined edge.”
“color modified by reflected light”
“color modification by simultaneous contrast”
“the amount of visual information which is capable of being transmitted by optical arrangements is in excess of what we require.”
“Rembrandt’s reduction creates and fortifies expression. This is because it acts out the way in which we find meaning in our living experiences.”
“Every choice, every action which decides something about each event must be taken with a view to the longest structure in time and sound which will give to the separate elements the most articulate meaning.”