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

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!

2021 Apples and a Rose

Apples and A Rose 20×16 Oil Painting on Linen Panel

Happy New Year to all! I’m thinking of last year this time – we had no idea what was coming and we watched the world change and it was disastrous. This year, I’m hoping for positive change on so many levels.

I’m enjoying creating paintings on dark backgrounds as the last two have been. They’re dramatic – especially with the reds. Setting up a still life and attempting to crease a pleasing design is one of the greatest challenges. The actual painting is not as hard as that to do.

In the past I’ve create portraits and digital portrait paintings, often even full bodies, which grew out of a dark background of shadow. I find myself wanting to do the same with still lifes in oil. I’ve created paintings like this before but not for a while. Its a comfortable visual style for me.

I’m also beginning and online painting class. There’s a lot of that going on these days. I love to collect others painters techniques. I like the work and style of painter and instructor Elizabeth Robbins. My interest is not to paint like her, but I love to learn the process and thinking of artist whose painting styles I admire. She paints lots of still life florals with very soft edges and lots of pretty soft colors. Below, I show you an example of her painting and include a link to her instruction site she host with a landscape painter friend, where you can see more of her work – Inspired to Paint.

Elizabeth Robins Oil Painting

We’re even planning to schedule a portfolio review of my work. That should be interesting. I’ll let you know what she says – maybe!! I sincerely wish you a healthy and happy new year. Winifred

The Vintage Tray

Roses on Vintage Tray 12×16 Oil on Panel

Roses are beautiful but complex to paint. It’s been a few months now, that I focused on painting roses. I started by painting single roses which I enjoy, but I also wanted to paint rose bouquets and to paint roses abstractly without a visual reference. This required that I understand the flower structure and be able to visualize the petals/flowers and lighting as the flower is turned.


I love the vintage tray the vase is sitting on.  I purchase most of my still life elements at Goodwill or at Poulsbo Antiques. On this one occasion, I walked into Goodwill and immediately spotted this tray – actually a removable table top.  You can’t see much of the tray in this painting, but it really is beautiful.  It was $175.00.  I had no place to use it as a table and it was far too expensive to use as an occasional still life prop – so I walked away – reluctantly.  The next time I was there it was $75.00. “WOW”, I thought, but I still walked away.  The next time, I was there it was $15.00!!!  This item had been in the floor so long that the cashier further reduced it to $11.00. We all love a good deal!!
Hope you enjoy this painting.  Next week I will post a very different style of painting – for me, and painted completely from imagination – no roses involved.

Taking Chances

Impressionistic Peach Roses with Fruit 12×16 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred

 I place a high value on taking chances.  In fact, I don’t really believe taking chances is a risk, I believe the risk occurs if you don’t. If I choose a safe path, one I believe will keep me from “messing up my painting, for sure this will inhibit my growth.  I’m thinking now about  thoughts which went through my mind with these two paintings – both of which presented me with opportunities to “mess up” – but I took a chance anyway.

I don’t find it particularly difficult “to paint what I see” from a reference photo or from a still life I set up.  For the most part, however, my interest is not realistic paintings  – except portraits.  I’m interested in “interpreting” or abstracting away from realistic visual references. This is much more interesting and exciting for me.

I find this more challenging because it means, I have to “make up things that aren’t there”.  I have to eliminate part of the content which is there. I have to create elements, colors, textures which are not present.  I have to make up brushstrokes which alter the surface of my reference.  I might “mess up” – I often think as I commence some of my more abstracted or elaborate processes!  This thought regularly enters my mind and I have to pause to “talk” to my mind about it.  “You can’t mess up” –  I tell my mind. In fact, I tell my mind that imagining/abstracting new content – new ways to express the elements being observed “ is its only job” – and the only way to build new skills, confidence and creativity – no matter the outcome!  

 I want to have ideas – receive ideas but to try not to tightly control the process expression.  By doing this with each painting – even in small steps, I know my creativity and confidence grows.  I believe both of the above paintings are examples of being a bit “out of control”. It doesn’t even matter whether they’re good paintings or not. The only thing that really matters to me is that I tried something new which caused some discomfort and I did it anyway. I hope to continue this practice throughout this new year.  

I think the saying is – “feel the fear and do it anyway! 2020!!