Blue Vase and Oranges

Blue Vase and Oranges Oil Painting 16×12 by Winifred Whitfield

My thoughts are with the freezing and miserable people throughout the south. I hope utility services are resumed for them very quickly.

I can choose to paint a still life from an actual setup in my studio or from a photo on my iPad. For the past several months I’ve worked exclusively from the actual setup – even if I have a photo back up – in case a flower droops or looses petals. I find that my eyes want to go to the live props. That’s been interesting. My still life is now located so that I only have to make a slight movement of my eyes to view it – no turning of my head. This was not always the case but it’s definitely a workflow improvement. Now my quest is to be able to raise or lower the set up as a way to alter my point of view. You might think this easy but not yet. I will only need to purchase the right kind of stand to give myself that flexibility. I have many things to address this issue but none work as I would like. I’m always trying to make my workflow more efficient.

I also try to challenge myself in someway with each new painting. With this painting, I wanted to make glass look like glass while maintaining a painterly quality of the painting. The last thing I want is for someone to say the painting looks like a photograph. Been there, done that – for real! I really love painting but I assure you, it’s exhausting because of the level of concentration and often deliberation with each brushstroke required – the constant and ongoing decisions and judgements that have to be made. I often have some elements of the still life in place and evident but not others. In this painting, the choice of a background was changed mid stream. My original background had reds and oranges in it. It was pretty and colorful but competed with the still life elements of the foreground. I needed the background to move back – so I had to originate a new one on the fly. The more subdued colors work much better. I wanted the background to be interesting but not too interesting. I think it works. I’ll keep looking at it.

I’m taking a break for a day. My break is to sand down failed paintings and create a renewed painting surface on them to allow for their reuse. Have a great weekend and stay warm.

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Still Lifes Between Old and New

12 x16 Sunflowers and Fruit Oil Painting by Winifred

There will be more portraits to come for sure, but I also want to share with you some still life paintings I’ve been  creating.  They may look a little different and I have created this look intentionally.  I wanted to create still lifes that make me feel what I feel when I look at some of the “masters”.  There are certain, hues, textures and values which give their work a distinctively “non modern” look. 

12×12 Still Life “Bounty” by Winifred Whitfield

I am aiming to create a look somewhere between old and new.  To do this has required me to refine my own oils, a long and complex learning curve to this –  rather than using commercially refined oils. Refining my own oil gives me thicker, faster drying, less to non yellowing oil.   I make my linen panels (so time consuming), in order to have a nubbier less commercially smooth linen panel. I create hand made paint, by grinding my hand refined oil into powdered pigments I purchase which created a different paint texture. I have about 30 tubes of this paint now – and a sore wrist.  I make medium to mix with my paint, all non toxic, using chalk, marble dust or calcite, oil  and other ingredients, which adds thickness, translucency and stability to the paint. I get more color saturation and increase my ability to work in layers, wet into wet with out muddying the paint because the paint is thicker and more sequestering. 

8×10 Fruit with Blue Plate by Winifred

All of these processes are very time consuming  to make but there was something within me that wanted a grasp of my products and how I could  manipulate them to alter the look and texture of a painting. Many times during the process, studying and creating these products, I have asked myself why I can’t be content with product I could order from the internet – but I just can not – so I just have to live with myself and the added time and effort!!

I do enjoy, for sure, the results I’m getting.  It is definitely a different look from what I was creating with commercial products and I am just getting started!! Thank you for your time. Winifred

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