Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Kitty and Pumpkins"

"Kitty and Pumpkins" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

Here it is, several days before Christmas, and I'm still painting pumpkins!  Well, this year I happened to find a very interesting assortment of pumpkins (and gourds).  I really hope to paint as many of them as I can before they rot. 

And what would a still life painting be without a wrinkled tablecloth and some type of glass?  I love painting both and have quite a collection.  Turkey feathers, too.  I use them often in paintings.  I love their ziggy-zaggy design -- and they're harder to paint than you'd think.

This year I did quite a number of small, 6x6" paintings, as they seemed more affordable.  They were good practice, but for me, it's frustrating.  I love doing very complex, difficult paintings -- and 6x6" is too small of an area for that.  So every once in a while I have to haul out a larger canvas to satisfy my need for "challenging projects".  My friend, Todd Warner, said that it's good to paint a large one at least once in a while to show people that we still can do it! 

I never paint from photographs.  I always use a viewfinder and draw the composition in, using a thin mix of a soft gray paint.  Sometimes there are a lot of wipe-outs, but generally it takes me about a day to draw a painting in.  Then I dive in to painting the darks, moving gradually to the medium tones and finally the very lightest tones. 

For this painting I deviated slightly.  The toughest thing for me was the distortions in the glass bowl.  Distortions in glass are very addictive for me and after having painted a few hundred little 6x6" apples and cupcakes, etc., I just had to slug away on this bowl first thing! 

Making a successful painting is learning how to control your panic!  Unlike plein air landscapes, the wonderful thing about still lifes is that they pretty much hold still.  The distortions stay still.  So that is a comfort.  I have learned to just calmly look at the shapes and paint them.  Painting shapes is all there is to it. 

Yesterday morning I'd pretty much painted in the whole thing except for the gap in the lower right.  The table edge left an empty gap.  What to put there to stop the viewer's eye from falling off into the abyss?  I was sitting here at the computer, mulling it over when Picasso, my studio cat, nudged my leg.  Aha!  I grabbed my camera and snapped his face.  Cats may be wonderful, but none of mine have ever cared to hold still.  So I did have to refer to a photograph for his portrait. 

The title: If I'd called this "Picasso and Pumpkins" it might have sent viewers into a wild goose chase, looking for "THE" Picasso, hidden somewhere. 

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