The Kitten and the Baby Bird

Kitten and Baby Bird Oil Painting 16×20 by Winifred Whitfield

I’ve had this kitten doorstop for so many years. I thought perhaps it might be used in a still life but I couldn’t imagine how. I haven’t had the little bird as long. It was purchased specifically to be used in a still life but it actually spent most of it’s years, hidden accidentally in a corner under one of my studio tables. Now they are both stars. It’s a painting that makes me smile. I love the expression of the kitten and the sense of connection with the adoring little bird. Anyway, that’s the way it feels to me. And yes there is platter of fruit. They’ll have no problem nibbling. Again, my drop cloth plays an important roll in the design and framing of the painting. This painting is a bit unusual. I’m OK with that. What do you think. Winifred

The Wonder of Apples

Big Juicy Apples Oil Painting 16×12 by Winifred Whitfield

Did you know that planting seeds of any apple will never give you the same apple. It’s like children – each child born will be different in some way – from what I’ve seen – even twins. If you plant sunflower seeds and most other seeds and you’ll get the same plant. To get the same apple, you have to clone the plant – graft the branch of the fruit you want onto the root stock of another tree. When sufficiently mature, it will bear identical fruit type as that from the tree the branch came from. What has this got to do with my painting – absolutely nothing, but interesting and this was discussed in a recent video on Cezanne I saw on YouTube.

Cezanne created so many paintings of apples – a couple hundred or more. Sometimes he included a few other fruit, but mostly he painted apples. They were foundational to his still lifes. He decided to make his mark with “apples”. Still lifes, at that time the lowest oil painting genre of them all. But he cared not. He wanted to astonish Paris with apples – and so he did. Proving again that boldness has genius! It was not just the apple subject matter that won him such acclaim however, it was his design, perspective, brushstrokes and color. Most painters were using smooth blended paint strokes at the time. As you see below, he was often painting with thick paint. I love this thick juicy paint. Many will think it looks messy. I find it amazing!

Sugar Bowl, Pears, and Blue Cup by Paul Cezanne, circa 1866.

I’ve always also taken note of the bold deeply folded white cloth/s Cezanne frequently uses in his still lifes, which I mentioned is the reason my new drop cloth is so exciting to me. I’ve used it again in this painting as well as the next I’m working on presently. I’ll enjoy painting apples and other fruit for a while before … who knows? Have a wonderful day! Winifred

The Goblet and the Drop Cloth

Goblet and Drop Cloth 16×12 BW Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Drop cloths covered furniture to protect it while I prepared new panels for paintings. The drop cloths have an interesting character which allow it to hold folds and planes as opposed to soft gathers or draping effects. I felt strongly it would make a great background for my still life box set up. It would only require that I cut my drop cloth which I was reluctant to do. After I dismantled my protective use of the drop cloths, I folded them, each 9×12 feet, and put them away. However, my inner voice kept nagging me. It too knew I needed a piece of that drop cloth for use in my studio. I returned to their storage place, unfolded one of the drop cloths and made a 30 inch by 9 ft cut. I then cut that in half such that I now have two. Excitedly, I took one of my 2 halves to my studio and virtually tossed it across the back of my still life setup. Because of the stiffness of the backdrop, As I thought, it id easy and interesting to manipulate. I reminds me of the appearance of white table cloths in Cezanne’s paintings – though this is not what he used. I can also paint one side a different color. In fact I can have each of 4 sides a different color. So the fact is – I love it. I had recently pulled a white goblet from my cabinet. It was just there – nearby, waiting to be put away. I placed the goblet on the new background drop cloth. I turned my new spot light on. WOW! I thought it was so sculptural, so interesting. I took a quick I phone photo to isolate the image. It was good so I took 10 more photos – thinking I could go one better. The fact is, I like that first shot best and that’s what I painted.

Now you see why this painting is black and white only. There was a strong pull to add a spot of color – one red strawberry perhaps, but decided it was fine just as it is. I did use lots of juicy thick paint which is giving me great texture. A fun painting inspired by a painter drop cloth. That doesn’t happen everyday for sure. Hope you enjoy. Winifred

Sunflowers against Blue

Two Sunflowers on Blue Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred

Thick paint and vivid colors make me happy, though there’s still a little work to be done. These sunflowers, also featured in my last painting, were the last two left from the bouquet. They were still good but coming to an end. The petals of these flowers were unusual. Rather than “pointy” they were ovals and many had completely rounded ends. I’m not sure I have ever seen such before. For sure. I’ve never grown any which look like this. I’ll have to ask Trader Joe where they come from. I could have saved seeds but this is only occurring to me at this very moment.

I have a new light in the studio which offers a wide range of lighting styles for still life set ups, which is likely why you feel a sense of spot light on these flowers – because it is. Hope you enjoy and have a great week. Winifred

Impasto Still Life

Impasto Sunflowers Oranges Grapes – Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I haven’t done a palette knife impasto painting in quite a long while. You can probably look at this and imagine the fun. I’m sure there’s some rule about not mixing impasto with smooth shiny and realistic elements, as I did by including the painting style of the grapes but I did it anyway. The purple grapes in particular look absolutely edible and I was not going to change that for consistency sake. I’m a proponent for not being consistent anyway. It’s too boring a concept. I’ve noticed over time that when I paint still lifes which include flowers and fruit, my favorite part of the painting is the lower half. I do love painting fruit. I think it’s the variety of shapes colors and textures in close proximity. As well I enjoy painting vases. I painted the vase texture from imagination. No doubt, there will soon be a still life painting with no flowers! Hope you enjoy! Winifred

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.

The Tilt

Tilted Bowl of Fruit 16×12 Oil Painting by Winifred

It started when shopping for fruits and veggies. I saw a bunch of large tangerines in the center of the fruit display. They had large gnarly green leaves attached. I would include them as they would add a special touch to the bowl of fruit I’d create. I tilted the bottom of my support to change the point of view just a little to add additional interest. Primarily, I used a palette knife but not for everything. Always a challenge but I enjoyed creating this colorful energetic painting.

Scattered Grapes and Roses

Scattered Grapes and Roses 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I haven’t painted with a palette knife in quite a long time. I loved doing so. Of course the grapes were the most fun. Including grapes just popped into my head and I went with it. I can just hear you now. Don’t worry, I will do more – I love all of this texture!

Ray of Hope

Ray of Hope Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred Whitfield

That’s what a friend said when she saw this painting. Perhaps she was referring to the light hitting the peony petals, but for me it has two meanings, as we hopefully we soon move toward the end of this election – and hopefully with Trump gone!

I created another peony painting this past week – below – but it no longer exist.

Three Peonies. Only digital file remains. By Winifred

I broke the panel and threw it away. I have a bit of regret, I must say. I think I should take a couple days at least before I do these impulsive things – but I won’t dwell on it. One really cannot SEE a painting clearly if it is completed in a day. One is far too close to it at that time. I couldn’t see fully the merits or the faults. It’s pretty amazing what one does see a couple days later – or perhaps a week later when you’ve moved a bit past the “touchup” and “fix it” mode. It’s a very different experience – but at the time – I felt the need to break something!! The peonies in this painting are actually pretty well done. So I will make this a rule for myself – WAIT.

Obviously flowers are my subject matter of choice. I didn’t know this would be the case when I began to paint. The fact is that flowers are colorful and joyful. Who doesn’t like to receive a bouquet of flowers! I’m painting happiness and given so many of the policies and practices in this country – I need it! Hope you’re having a good week. May MY candidates win!! Winifred

Potted Red Geranium with Bocopa

Potted Red Geranium with Bacopa Oil Painting – 11×14 by Winifred

I’ve seen so many paintings of potted geraniums. Most often the plant is in a clay pot with a watering can next to it, perhaps in front of an old shed. You’ve seen those. Now I’ve painted my version with a simple background. In addition to the bright red geraniums, I love the accent of the Bacopa with it’s tiny white cluster of petals. Many people don’t know this plant but it is a wonderful, profusely blooming water loving plant that does well in containers, hanging baskets and even as a ground cover. There’s always some growing in my containers and one always finds it in bloom. I skipped using a clay pot, though I do love them. It’s a classic image item. I decided to use a ceramic pot instead. I’ve had this pot for a while but couldn’t plant in it because it didn’t have a drainage hole. Finally I saw a YouTube video that showed how to drill holes in glass, ceramic or clay pots. I immediately purchased diamond drill bits and put holes in all kind of glass containers. Anyway, this allowed me to grow a geranium in my pot. By the way, I propagated 14 new geraniums, last fall and they’re are all currently in bloom. The geranium I propagated is a different kind of geranium from this one with a very different color and petals. You’ll see it at some point.

Have a wonderful week and I hope this brings you cheer. I know – it kind of feels like Christmas. Winifred

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