Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts on Painting Still Life

Food for Thought

Still Life painting is a great passion of mine. And i think for most people, you either love em', or you don't. For me, still life's hold a special place in my heart, for that's when colors and values and shapes, began to make sense to me.
I also enjoy the gathering of trinkets and formulating them into a display. And, I gotta tell ya', you just haven't lived until you've wandered through thrift stores looking for interestingly shaped items that are just begging to be re-purposed. It truly is great fun. However, some items, like the bud vase, was my mother's, the book is my wife's, and the flowers are snips from our yard.
I knew i wanted this painting to be full of texture and that it would take multiple sittings to get it where i wanted it. The whole thought process that takes place with problem solving (the application of paint to a painting revisited) is quite freeing and magnetizing. Freeing - in terms of not having to dial everything in during the first pass or two because i know i'm going to refine as i go. And magnetizing - because each visit is like a new painting, only better. The juicy thick paint being pulled and dragged, grabs like a saber tooth tiger and reveals wonderful nuances.
If you already enjoy painting still life's, i might be preaching to the choir. If you don't, i would urge you to give it a shot - you never know, you might succumb to the power of the still...and if you're an appreciator, you probably already have.


  1. This is a beautiful still life Michael. I immediately blew it up to examine the texture--it almost looks like there's something in the paint mix; it has a tactile look.
    I am not a painter of still lifes; I appreciate still lifes. Yours and others. I admire the detail work. For me, I need motion--I would be zooming in on the vase of flowers from your garden with the arching branches. What sounds fun is browsing thrift shops for interesting shapes. You know, I take that back. I do like book racks and all the colors standing like soldiers--and my display case pastries. I just never thought of them as being still lifes.

    1. Thank you Linda, i'm so glad you looked closer at the texture, for its an important part of the work for me. Funny thing is, i'm a pretty simple and straight forward guy. I use Paint, Brush, Panel. I don't get caught up in the mediums and fancy things out there. Nothing against them, i just think sometimes we get caught up in the next greatest widget and forget why we do what we do. So, what you see there is strickly paint that has been applied at various stages to create those effects; pretty simple.
      I think i would like to see your bookshelves wind up in a painting. You might have landed on a new segment of your work. Thanks again!

  2. Lindy! You're good at arranging/composing and no one piles on the thick texture like you do. I'm glad blogger has the click to enlarge feature ...it allows us to see the thick swirly parts of this painting. One other nice component here is how complex the painting is, you don't just paint one to three items like so many painters do these days. It's refreshing to see a painting with so much variety in subject matter, color and texture.

    1. C-Dawg, you know me too well. Not sure i'm good at the arrangment things, but i do spend time trying to improve them. I will show this one to you, Super Dave, and the group tonight and incorporate it into my texture demo.
      Funny though, i had a gal tuesday night ask me why i put things so far apart. It just cracks me up how different everybody's thougt process is. All we can really do is be true to ourselves and paint what comes naturally. The rest will take care of itself. Thanks C!

  3. I love the colors and textures. Gorgeous :-).

  4. Positively glittering with light! Very nice job!