Bunnies with fruit
Browsing in Pier 1 Imports these two bunnies, not quite the same, sitting nose to nose, caught my eye and I had to take them home. Then “Bunny” and “Bunnz” had to be painted. They are el cheapo and just barely finished, so they are not natural-looking bunnies. I had a hard time keeping them artificial and flat-looking in the paintings. Yet their plain, blank surfaces contrast nicely against the glowing fresh fruit. Life and artifice, colour and monochrome in one setting.
Silver coffeepot with cherries
The bunnies gave me some confidence for tackling something with a more difficult surface. So a silver coffeepot it was, in which the practically-purple cherries were nicely reflected. Composing the objects was, again, a major problem, and so was the drapery. I totally screwed up the first attempt (Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries I). I made so many over-paintings and repairs with scrubbing brush, CLR (strong bathroom cleaner), gesso and more gesso, that the canvas eventually buckled like wet paper and dried with dents, gouges and bubbles. By attempt No. 2 (Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries II) the surface was smoother but I like my first attempt better. More depth, I think. Looking at the mess of the surfaces made me think ruefully of the many layers of Bakelite-mixed paint that forger Han van Meegeren used to create the hard, craquelure-marked, luminous surface of his Vermeer fakes.
In Hagley Park, Christchurch New Zealand, there is a magnificent rose garden. This is my first flower painting of one of those roses. Easy it was not. Strange how geometrical the leaves of a rose are. They are arranged to be just shy of looking rudely like a body part, but at the same time almost like puzzle pieces fitting together to give the “gist of roseness”. Without those downturned leaves, the petals furled tightly at the centre, would it still be recognizable as a rose? Just goes to show: nature paints the most perfect, inimitable pictures.