Final Still Life Post: Risks

Our task for this painting was to be uncomfortable and to take risks. For me, my first risk was the hardest, even though it was so minor, and it allowed me to be more free with risk taking. My first risk was adding color so carelessly, I didn’t focus too much on my precious drawing for outline but instead I used a huge brush and just let the paint go. During the critique Ellie said, “After you let the attachment go, you just play,” which I think was what happened throughout the entire process. I wasn’t as attached to the painting as I usually am, and I wasn’t as worried about ruining it. It was comforting having gesso, so if I decided of some way to improve my painting I could always throw white on top and start over (which what I did with the skull). Another important thing to mention is these vibrant colors were definitely a risk for me, I typically stay, comfortably, with muted colors so that I can always go darker if I screw up. On the day before it was due, I was doing some last minute additions and I was talking to one of my classmates, Gala (who is an amazing painter), about how I wanted my colors to be even more vibrant. She suggested I added more brown to the arm to increase the contrast and making the yellow look more vibrant. I completely forgot about the concept of contrast and that’s one reason why I really love having our small classes: I know everyone and we help each other. There was another time, I having some issues with the cup and Erica (also amazing) helped me figure out what was really going on with the shape of the cup. So I’ve learned a lot through this assignment though experimentation and asking questions. It was also such a positive experience to be encouraged to let your art go wherever it falls. We were encouraged to have a dialogue with our work: follow our instinct and then respond to the art. I am really excited about whatever our next assignment is and to see how this assignment will effect the next.

The process:

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While I was working on this still life painting, I started to look at objects differently–more truthfully. I especially noticed this with my moleskine paintings.

I think these two paintings illustrate some of my growth due to the still life painting. Both of these objects are shiny and both are close to the same color palette. Some thing important though is I used different materials: the necklace water soluble pencils and the shoe was with water soluble crayons, water color as well as water soluble pencil. With the shoe, I didn’t think about the whole picture as much as I did with necklace. With the shoe, I just painted the values and it ended up as a shoe. With necklace, I was much more concentrated on the whole picture. I think this change happened because with the my still life, I had to focus on the values and let the values make the shape. The still life also effected the way I drew the lightbulb. With the lightbulb I focused on the values and also used the string to make sure the dimensions were right. So, the way that I was studying my still life translated to the way I treated the moleskine paintings.

Related Posts:

The first post, second post, third post and forth post about this process. This is the culmination of them all but I go in to much greater detail in the others because the feelings were fresh when I wrote them. Enjoy!


14 responses

  1. i’m glad you found my suggestion helpful!
    contrast is actually what i wrote about during the critique in response to your work. i think that risky use of vibrant color is really great and that, paired with the drips, displays great use of both contrast and value contrast. i think even riskier use of value contrast would have really benefited the work though! in both the forms of the still life and in the drips, more value contrast would have been really lovely with the delicate way you apply color to the paper.

    • I totally agree. I would’ve liked to continue the higher levels of contrast style of the cup and skull with the other subjects but it was just too late. I feel like I could work on this painting for a few more days (maybe a week) but at the same time, I like the idea that its complete.

  2. I’m really enjoying your playfulness with the colors, I would love to see you create even deeper layers, high contrast. I agree completely with Gala. More contrast will give your painting that extra sweetness it’s screaming for.

  3. Mercedes:

    I love the color contrasts in your paiting, and the loosness of the objects. They are still, but as the same time has some movements. The colors seems to transform from one to another horizontally, and this brings special rythym to your paiting. I think it’s a smart idea to leave the dripping only at the bottom of the space.


    • Thank you, I am really glad I cleaned up the top too because before I think it took away from the bottom. I am also glad the movement read through, that was something I wanted from the beginning with the sketching.

  4. I think you made really great decisions in this work! Your colors, redoing the skull, and toning the drips down after the crit are a few. I’m also super excited for the next project!

  5. The translucency of your piece is magnificent. You did a great job of using many layers, yet letting the whiteness of the paper shine through too. I also like your color selections.
    The only thing I would work on would be the arm, something feels off about it.

  6. Hi Mercedez!
    I loved the negative space you created around the white as well as how your painting seems to be floating. Its the type of painting that makes you sit and look at it.

  7. I love the way this painting is grounded on the white space + drips. I agree with Nell that it would be even stronger if you “white-out” the drip/splatter in the top white space. Like Hannah, you have played with complimentary colors. The blue pitcher is developed in value more than other objects, and I would love to see more of that.

  8. Risk, challenging oneself and abandoning ones attachment is the only way to grow. Finding one’s own work precious is dangerous – it will hold you back. When I was in school I had a professor who had us do a drawing, (of course, everyone loved their drawing), then he forced us to tear them up. Most everyone balked. He went on to say that our work is not precious, we should never fall in love with our own work, and never be afraid to destroy it. Or, risk stagnation. It was an awesome lesson. In a piece thats not quite working, usually the first thing I do is to ruin some of the parts I like most. Its incredibly liberating. The freedom with which you’ve applied your paint has given your drawing life. Thanks for taking the follow my blog. I appreciate that. I look forward to viewing your progression.

    • Tearing up the drawing must have been an amazing/scary experience. I think its always that first risk that is the scariest and then its absolutely liberating. Since this risk taking assignment, I have pushed myself and found new levels within my art. It was a transformative experience–being told to destroy the art I worked so diligently on. As I student, I am excited to see how this will translate in my other mediums of art 🙂 Thank you for the comment!

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