Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Blue Vase - Continuing Still Life Exploration

 Still Life painting continues to intrigue me.  I've mentioned before that I enjoy painting still life subjects in the studio as a kind of therapy.  There's something very healing about the process.  One is painting from life, but without the pressures of working from a model or the challenges (should I say aggravations?) of plein air painting. With internet radio in the background and Dixie asleep on her pillow by the transparent plastic doggie door (so she can keep one eye out for squirrels who may have the audacity to venture into HER backyard), the studio is a wonderfully peaceful place. 

But more and more I appreciate still life painting as a chance to explore painting techniques and to simply practice what I learn in workshops and other studies.  Sometimes, I learn what NOT to do, which, if it is absorbed and remembered, is every bit as valuable as learning what to TO do.  As an example of this last point, I just completed a workshop conducted by a very accomplished painter who teaches and practices a 'classical' approach using old master techniques, colors, mediums and etc. (More on the workshop in another post.) Using what I had learned, I attempted to complete this still life and in particular the vase.  It was a disaster to such an extent that yesterday I spent about two hours completely over-painting and then re-painting the entire vase.  I did one other thing, I scraped burnt umber and raw umber from my palette forever.  I know that they are essential colors of the old masters, but apparently they knew how to use them and I don't.  And simply put, they are incredibly UGLY!   (And according to some experts found on the internet, one or both have some bad chemical properties from an archival point of view.  You can google it.)

In this painting I wanted a contrast of textures.  Against the smooth and reflective surface of the blue vase and the red apple, I tried very hard to create texture in the oranges and the table top by putting the paint down heavily and leaving it.  I think it was successful.

The Blue Vase    12" x 12" Oil on linen panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art


  1. It's so easy to scrape it off and then repaint while making a new variation on the same mistakes.
    Love the fruit

  2. Hi Neil....I can't count the number of times I have done exactly that....particularly while plein air painting. If I scrape something without a clear plan of how to approach it differently the second time, I am lost before I start. That is so true!
    And, thinking about it further, having a clear plan is an essential part of starting the FIRST time!
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Neil.

  3. Bruce, I loved reading your post. You made me laugh with YOU regarding your struggles. It obviously paid off with this final painting. I love the bowl and the fruit. They have a feeling of life. The edges work so well and the palette is really nice. The textures throughout the painting are painted beautifully.

  4. Oh's always a struggle...and I know you know that well!! Thanks as always for your good words and support through think and thin!!

  5. Love this, looks like I could just pick that vase up..

  6. Thanks Vickie! Are you ready for the coast?? Coming up fast!