After completing the chiaroscuro class this past spring semester, I decided that I needed to practice more still life works and keep my skills up while waiting for the next semester to begin in the fall. I am not really a still life artist, at least I never thought of myself as being one. But I think it is important for an artist to be familiar with different types of approaches to painting and the still life composition is an old tradition where one can really learn to observe their subject matter. One advantage is that the still life generally doesn’t walk away, unless there is some seriously moldy fruit, or have the light source change as the day wears on. It’s really a good place to start practicing observation and that is pretty key to doing artwork that has a realistic approach or even one that just wants to make things look solid and three dimensional.
So I got myself some props and a place to take some photos. (I like working from photos. I move around way too much to stay seated in the same location, and it is important to see things from the exact same angle.) So thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I was able to take a bunch of photos of my still life set up from different angles with different lighting and different combinations of my selected items. Then came the process of weeding out the bad photos from the good ones, and then trying to pick the best
compositions to base my painting upon. This is always difficult for me because sometimes I don’t understand why I like one picture better than another. This is something the university tries to teach each student of art. The instructors want you to know why something is working. They want you to know why you want to keep looking at one picture and lose interest in another, so that when you compose your own artwork, as the artist, you will not make bad composition choices.
So I selected the picture I liked best with a little bit of help from my husband and begun the process of making my still life painting.
I call this one Idunna’s Apples. Idunna was or is the Norse Goddess that gave golden apples to the other Gods and Goddesses for health. This must be where the concept of an apple a day keeps the doctor away comes from. I don’t know that for sure but it would certainly make sense. The apples are placed in a traditional wooden bowl with runes carved onto the sides, and the silver goblet…. Well, I just really like that silver goblet. It has great shape and reflective qualities. It is also a common tradition for the people of the old traditions to share beverages with one another as well as when they are offering something to a Deity. The person takes a drink as well as offers a portion of the drink to the Deity. I wonder if this is where the idea of one should not drink alone comes from… These people were very well known for being hospitable, so the whole picture has a nice feeling of good health and sharing in it’s symbolic meaning.
I must admit I was very pleased with the results of the apples. I have never been very interested in painting fruit, but those apples made me feel very good about this first attempt at doing so. I think my instructors have armed me with the right concepts for getting the job accomplished, and I hope to continue to practice this summer and make their methods a regular part of my painting habits.
G. Winkler ©2013