August golden plums and a large arrangement of local flowers provide sensual release in the abating summer of paint and canvas. Yet, it is not so much the canvases where the study and work is occurring. I have been reading Rainer Marie Rilke‘s LETTERS ON CEZANNE that he wrote to his wife in 1907 while viewing an exhibition of Paul Cezanne’s paintings shown one year after the painter’s death. This master painter, along with Henri Matisse, has cast a distinct hue and influence over these most recent canvases – none of which are released as I am not sure of their completeness. Maybe they will remain studio studies or maybe just a few brushes of paint and they will separate from the creative process and stand on their own. But complete or not it is time to bring you my dear friends into my painterly space.
I start arranging and exploring the possibilities for the still life with my usual camera sketches.
Should it be this way?
Or maybe this way?
And then of course there is just the plums…
What would Paul Cezanne have to say? Well, very little probably. He certainly wasn’t know for his eloquent oratory. Rilke on the other hand and to our good fortune gifted with words:
It’s as if every part were aware of all the others – it participates that much; that much adjustment and rejection is happening in it; that’s how each daub plays its part in maintaining equilibrium and in producing it: just as the whole picture finally keeps reality in equilibrium.
(Paris Vie, 29, Rue Cassette, October 22, 1907)
Shall we begin?
The first challenge is to get the still life up to a desired level for painting so that the view-point is similar to that of the photographs. This is likely not all that common an issue but it is one I have discovered to be a significant difference between painting from life and using my photographs for reference – I often photograph on my knees and almost always paint standing. I like the low angle so how might we do this with this chair and still life arrangement?
By setting it on the coffee table of course. I set three framed and finished paintings behind the set up not for any other purpose than to leave me room in another part of the room for the wet canvases. But after I did it I liked the effect and added a few cushions under the chair to pull everything together. Now it is time to paint.
I feel very much alone in the studio. With the ground on the two new canvas I will be painting today, I wait for a little more natural light to reach the great room where I am painting. While I wait, I review yesterday’s work in progress images looking for clues that can possibly be brought forward in an even more conscious way into today’s work. It is interesting to me that one day can feel so different from the next. Well, there is only one thing to do – paint.
I am happily painting and visiting with Paul Cezanne when Henri Matisse shows up.
There are distinctive elements of Cezanne work that go far beyond his use of colour to represent form. He had a way of presenting different viewpoints in his compositions that was and is exciting. This is something that Henri Matisse continued to explore while allowing the paint to become colour fields of flat surfaces. At this point of the development of this work I had a choice. I could continue to build up the colour fields or I could continue to follow the light and movement within the landscape. Matisse of course was arguing for letting paint be paint in its colour and simplicity. Cezanne was slowly working his way into the tension of form and structure of the still life using colour as his guide. I observed. I thanked the masters. Then I picked up my brush and continued to paint the light and movement between the forms until the painting came to rest.
AUGUST STILL LIFE WITH CEZANNE AND MATISSE resting 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas
I have done more on this painting now but it is not significantly changed.
But I am not done. I start on another canvas and move more towards form. Hovering between representation and abstract I bring us in close to the still life setup.
GOLDEN PLUMS AN APPLE AND GREEN VASE resting 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas
I am left wanting for a chance to peer over his shoulder as he painted and I assume paced his way through long periods of time constructing the structure and rendering his still life paintings. How did he decide to have falling fruit, and tilted vases, tables, paintings or twisted warped, walls and furniture with more than one view-point in a single painting? What was it that brought him to these considerations? The results are of course a still life that is anything but still.
I set up a third canvas
PLUMS APPLES AND MOSTLY SUNFLOWERS – resting 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas
The light IS filtered for most of my painting session this morning. Hence the contrasts are minimal as I paint the spaces in between enjoying the colours and the tension in the relationships.
I set up a four and small 8 x 10 inch canvas.
But after looking at it for a few moments I realize I am done. I have exhausted my drive to capture this particular still life. So with a room full of colour I begin to muse about these three works.
These three paintings are “resting” and they are still very much attached to the process of their painting. I have left them here in the window so that I may look at them unintentionally as I go about other tasks. I am checking to see that I truly feel they are complete. Sometimes this process takes hours before I am sure and other times it takes months. While I am doing this evaluation, a question came to mind:
Which room in a home or office would be best suited to hang these paintings?
You might think this is an odd question but many people who buy my paintings and photography prints hang the work in their bedrooms or in their private office space. I see these as the two most intimate places for people to choose to hang the pieces. Much of my work is in quieter colours with lots of natural blues, greens and earth shades. The paintings and photographs are full of movement yet the compositions are simple and spacious. Hence, it is easy for me to understand why the work might enhance restful and thoughtful spaces.
But these three are possibly not as visually quiet so it got me to wondering where they will most likely be hung. What do you think? If you were going to choose one or all three where would you hang them?
To help with size needs the smallest is 12 x 16 inches, the middle painting is 20 x 24 inches and the large painting is 24 x 36 inches.
So my curious mind wants to know – if you had a choice and these paintings arrived at your home, in what room would you hang them?
© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com