Working out what to put in the still life
I thought that I had run out of ideas for still life compositions. It wasn’t until I started doing these that I realised how few ornamental objects I possess. I don’t have enough patterned scarves or other fabric items either.
Yesterday, I found that I had overlooked a vintage tea plate in my china cabinet (I keep very little china in it) that could work in a still life. I think I bought it in Ruislip, many years ago and that it dates back to the early 1930s. That seemed a good starting point for a new composition.
The fabric is from an ottoman that my mother re-covered in the 1950s, I think, but I am not depicting it to scale – the pattern is slightly smaller in reality. The ‘ottoman’ was a wooden chest that gained a sprung, padded top and was covered in fabric at some time. The chest possibly belonged to one of my maternal great grandmothers or great-great grandmothers. I had hoped to replace the fabric which has been falling to pieces since I was given the ottoman many years ago, but it needs to be done properly. So it’s another thing on the list of things to do when I have enough money to spare and can finally decide on a new fabric.
The pattern on the fabric is designed to look handpainted, in a deliberately bold and unsymmetrical way. The colours are a bit faded but I am painting them as I imagine they looked when new.
7th May – a question of balance?
My mother told me that the ottoman was bought as an ottoman by her parents when they married. We had a chat about the fabric and how leading-edge fashionable it was when she bought it. I haven’t been able to identify the designer – yet.
I don’t think that the composition of the painting is working but I’m not sure what I can do to balance it. Its focal point is not sufficiently large or bold enough to compete against such a strong background – but the background is the focal point of this.
I need to think a bit more…
11th May Painting whilst thinking
After thinking for a while, I thought I ought to do some painting whilst thinking.
The amount of work I’ve done on it today is not that obvious because I spent most of the time going over the areas of white, some another two or three times. I don’t think the canvas was primed very well since it seems to drink in the paint.
Looking at the composition at this stage, I think that maybe the pear on the plate is meant to seem rather overwhelmed by the background pattern. There is an absence in the bottom right area – but I think there needs to be a lack of something, maybe. I could change my mind.
I was not content with the music on the iPod as I was working on it today. There was quite a lot of Iggy Pop, Doves, and Kooks but I was not in the mood for much of it.
Got on with the painting whilst still thinking about how it should go.
I decided, partly as a result of feedback from various people on Twitter and Facebook, that the composition was working in a rather unexpected way. It is right in this particular painting for the background to take over. Sometimes in life, things become clearer when one focuses more on the context than the object that would normally be the focal point.
The colours in the photograph are not quite as bright as in the picture.
I will probably return to this fabric again. Now I am wondering what to put in the next still life. I definitely lack objects suitable for still life compositions. In the meantime, I am also thinking about images to put on bricks for the Ouseburn Community Art project.