As a sculptor I had little or no interest in the idea of still life. Rendering an object as another object seemed a bit pointless (which shows a lack of imagination I suppose). I was vastly more interested in people as subjects. I still am, but since I started learning to paint I’ve been a bit more open minded.
The only way to learn to paint is to do it and there is rarely a person available (unless you can bear to specialise in self-portraits), so you have to paint other things. Also, as a painting of a person will often include furniture, background objects and space (unlike a sculpture which borrows its background from its situation), you need to be able to deal with more than just flesh. So I have found myself having a go at interiors and still life, apples, onions, even flowers! And I’m finding they are not just a means to an end.
One of the virtues of still life painting (for me) is that I can arrange the subject and the painting at the same distance from my eye so that the issue of what glasses to wear does not arise. Younger readers may not be aware of this, but when you get to the bifocal age, trying to see your model over there and your easel over here can be a frustration – do I want to see the model or the work more clearly? The reading section of bifocal lenses is not big enough to see all of a largish painting or drawing, so I often end up working without any glasses, which may lead to an unintended lack of precision. But when painting a small still life near at hand I can just wear single vision reading glasses to see both subject and painting. (The down side of that is that the ‘still’ subject moves a lot when you move your head, so you have to keep checking your perspective.)
Anyway, here’s yesterday’s exercise. ‘White’ really is an abstraction.
Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts