I started a new painting this week with an idea in my mind of a classic still life of a bowl of fruit set on a table. I began with a 24 X 20 canvas that was prepared by rolling on three coats of gesso, letting each coat dry overnight and lightly sanding each coat. I had imagined the layout for a few days. I started by lightly sketching in the main elements with Raw Sienna and lots of water, leaving areas of almost pure white where the strongest sunshine would fall. I was going to place an antique map in a frame in the upper right corner, so I sketched this in, too. The initial sketch was loosely painted and set up the contrasting areas of light and dark.
I followed this up with Burnt Sienna to strengthen the contrast of light and dark. I then went a little further with a wash of Naphthol Crimson (any deep red would do here,) where the deepest shadow would be. There were a couple of brush strokes that looked like a stack of plates to the left of the bowl of fruit. I strengthened that idea by indicating the stack of plates with a few quick strokes of paint.
I always let a painting like this “cook”. Later in the evening, I sat the painting beside the television and frequently stared at it. The loose brush strokes in the “map” began to resolve into a reflection of a couple of children standing around some object. You would be seeing the reflection of the group on the other side of the room, behind you. I wanted to add a chair at the end of the table so I am borrowing a chair with lion heads at the top of the side rails from a Vermeer painting as a tribute to one of my favorite artists. I also added a basket under the table to break up this void.
I have a working title of “Reflections” for this painting for now. It’s a lot of fun, and quite liberating to develop a painting without a source to work from. I’m thinking of dark and subdued colors with a green and gold striped Victorian wall paper; and silver bowl and gold-rimmed plates sitting on a deep mahogany table. Bright sunlight will fall on the wall, bowl of fruit and the tabletop.
Stay tuned for more photos.