SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Original Book Reviews, Recommendations and Discussions


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I spend my days making pretty pictures. Lucky me.


Still more paintings. (Yes, I actually do spend my days making pretty pictures.) These are a series of three paintings I am going to submit for the Anonymous Exhibition 2016  of the North Vancouver Community Arts Council (NVCAC). Again, the paintings at this show are all required to be 8 X 8 inches, and about 1.5 inches deep.  The idea was to produce a set of realistic still lifes using purely acrylic on canvas, no cheating with other media. With still lifes, unless you get the essential features of individual objects right, the whole thing falls into the Uncanny Valley and looks disconcertingly “off”. So these are representational, as they say, and moreover, old-school, from the choice of objects, right down to the double-glossy, highly reflective Liquitex Pouring Medium as a varnish or glaze. Though, I have to admit, looking at them now, there is something slightly abstract about them…

  • I first painted Cherries in a Chinese Bowl as an ipad painting, from a photo, but recreating it freehand on canvas is an entirely different kettle of fish.
  • The Silver Teapot with Lemons features an heirloom silver teapot which, by now, has an interesting patina on it. No doubt because I have’t cleaned it in years!
  • The Glass of Wine with Mini Pears in a Heirloom Porcelain Bowl, is exactly that. However, I left off the intricate flower design on the bowl – just got too busy. Anyone ever told you how tricky it is to paint glass? Well, it is, very. The pears are teeny, called Seckel pears, about one bite each.

To get a closer look at these, go to my portfolio on Direct2artist.


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Original still life painting: Time for a Drink

Title: Time for a drink - Silver carafe and goblet with grapes, 12 x 12 inches, acrylic on canvas

Title: Time for a drink – Silver carafe and goblet with grapes, 12 x 12 inches, acrylic on canvas


The carafe – a family heirloom – was made into some sort of table lamp long ago, so it is skew on its base, asymmetrical in its design, and on top of that, it wobbles. But it is still attractive in its way. It merely looks silver. I think it is made of some cheap kind of tin alloy. The goblet I bought in the Netherlands, a lifetime ago. The grapes were green, firm, sweet and fresh. The old and the new brought together to depict the love of wine.

See more of my paintings here, on direct2artist.


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Original Still Life Painting of Ceramic Bunnies and Apples

Title: Still Life with ceramic bunnies and apples. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Oct. 2015

Title: Still Life with ceramic bunnies and apples. Multimedia and acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Oct. 2015


I was getting rather fond of my Pier 1 ceramic bunnies, so I tried another composition to contrast them with bright red little apples and bright red drapery. They are rubbing noses. They’re a pair that belong together. I think I’m getting the hang of painting apples. Overall, I think they make a festive picture.

 


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Original Still Life Paintings of Silver Coffee Pot with Cherries

Title: Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries I. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Sept. 2015

Title: Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries I. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Sept. 2015

Title: Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries II. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Sept. 2015

Title: Still Life with Silver Coffee Pot and Cherries II. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, Sept. 2015


I wanted to tackle a subject 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.


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Original Still Life with Ceramic Bunnies and Onions

Title: Still life with ceramic bunnies and onions. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, edged with black painter’s tape. Painted Oct. 2015

Title: Still life with ceramic bunnies and onions. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, varnished, edged with black painter’s tape. Painted Oct. 2015


 

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.


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Still life II with pewter beer mug; Still life I with 1924 British Empire tea caddy

Still life II with apples, cherries and pewter beer mug, by M. Bijman, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, acrylic on canvas, varnished, framed

Still life II with apples, cherries and pewter beer mug, by M. Bijman, canvas is 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, acrylic on canvas, varnished, framed (Now property of M.C. le Roux, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

Still life I with pears and 1924 British Empire tea caddy, by M. Bijman, 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, acrylic on canvas, varnished, framed

Still life I with pears and 1924 British Empire tea caddy, by M. Bijman, canvas is 8 x 8 x 0.78 inches, 20.3 x 20.3 x 2.0 cm, acrylic on canvas, varnished, framed


The pewter beer tankard in Still Life II is  from about the 1920s and part of an inheritance, the Ambrosia apples were delicious and the cherries were so black and enormous they practically dripped juice.

In the other painting, the round thingie is a small copper tea caddy from the 1924 British Empire Exhibition in London, also inherited. You take the lid off at the top  – the ridge in the middle is where the lettering is, and there is a lion embossed on the backside. It’s an interesting object, part dull and used, part shiny. It is a Lipton Tea’s souvenir. The Exhibition was opened by King George V on St George’s Day, 23 April 1924, and we know our British family went to it and brought back the caddy and other doodads. The Starkrimson pears were yummy and eaten immediately after I photographed them. (Hey, life is short, enjoy it while you can.)

The idea was – the past and the present in one image. Old objects, from our past life, contrasted with fresh, live things from our present life. It’s simply saying: that was then, this is now. The fabric drapes in the background were, pardon my language, an absolute bitch to paint, no two ways about it. I must’ve redone those areas five, six times. Awful waste of paint. But in any case, there they are. I had them framed in silver floating frames with 4.5 cm deep black recesses (a tricky job well done by Dylan of Colours Art Supplies in Coquitlam.) More about painting still lifes, and how to deal with “painter’s block, here.