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Monday, November 16, 2009

Going Dutch...

I remain inspired by the old Dutch still life painters, so much so that my mouth is often left gaping when I look at their skill level in books. It really has remained unsurpassed to this day in my humble big-mouthed opinion.

I decided I might rather like to try painting a lobster. Don't ask me why. They are funny looking things. If you saw one crawling across your kitchen floor, you wouldn't want to eat it at all. Jump on the nearest chair and call the fire brigade.

They remind me of big cockroaches uncooked. But when hit by boiling water, that marvelous shade of red they turn is a sight to behold. All those angles too. And those beady eyes staring at the murderess. Red is always a challenge to paint I find, especially things in nature that are FIRE ENGINE red like lobsters and Christmas ties.

I bought this lobster for my still life teaching class at LAAFA last semester where I started the painting, 16" x 20", for demo purposes using a color harmony of red and green, but also doing a fast grisaille under painting in black and white which I then glazed over. I really like glazing mixed with scumbling over a grey and white sketch which is of course how the old Dutch guys did it. Vermeer for sure used a mixed method approach in his work.

I put the painting -and the lobster- aside for many weeks during my trip to France but KNEW I would finish it as it looked good already, good enough to continue at least, and the lobster cost me too much to waste.

Thank goodness for freezers. I had frozen the lobster which was high as a kite already after five hour sittings under hot lights, two sessions a week apart, at LAAFA.

It really didn't take me that much time at all to whip things into shape to a finish that was not too 'done' as I like a fresh look. Not too blendy-blendy. It reminds me that a good start is always key around value pattern and shapes. Besides you have to work fast painting decaying shellfish - or wear a hat with old wine-corks stringed around the brim to zwat the flies like the Aussies do.

It was also rewarding after France where I was doing quick studies (a total of 22 panels in a month to be exact) to spend time bringing a painting to the finish I like in terms of light effect.

Since my return from France I have not only stopped eating copious croissants, but also gone back to my favorite art books for a refresher course. Books I have not had access to for about three months due to France and a home move.

I have dusted off my camera obscura, said a prayer to Vermeer...I have gone Dutch at least for a few days.

For those of you still-lifers out there in LA area, be sure not to miss the Spanish Master of still life, Luis Melendez, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, currently running.

Also, I am just redoing my website and putting up many new still life paintings, including this one, all available for purchase and shipping.

Watch this space...


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

the vibrancy of this still life is breathtaking! You are a Master in your own right!!!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thank you Anonymous! I appreciate that. I wish I could meet Vermeer.

Marian Fortunati said...

It was beautiful when I saw it last summer. You've made it even better. That was one of my favorite set ups... (to see... not to spell).. The colors and shapes were fabulous... and those students that chose to paint it instead of the model did a great job with your example and instruction!!

I've been meaning to make it to the Melendez show... thanks for the reminder.

Be well, Johanna!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Marian. You always say just the right thing. YOU are painting darn well yourself I am thrilled to say.

Going to Melendez Saturday for a lecture. Can't wait.

Also looking forward to our SB show together.

The Josie Baggley Company said...

How has the wonderful Ms Vermeeria been doing? This is a feast of colours,textures & light. it's so very very very professionally executed in my humble opinion. it's the softness of the overall look that you achieve J. yet still delivering contrast between the hardness of the jug & bowl to the softness if the fruit to the presence of the lobster. I adore the murky old green hues to the background.
Rainey

Laurel Alanna McBrine said...

I think you should get a prize for dedication to painting from life in (smelly) circumstances wherein a lesser artist would have resorted to photographic reference to finish !

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Laurel...that made me laugh..I was a a bit worried about those flies...how did those Dutch guys do those ELABORATE set-ups it without cameras???

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Rainey...YOU are a doll! Always thoughtful...