Yesterday I finished my 17th still life painting!
My first was finished in Dec, 2020 and my latest was finished this month--May 2023. That's about 1 painting every 2 months for the past 2 1/2 years.
Looking over all my work together together (above/and on my website) I see some trends:
TREND #1: I'm learning and evolving.
My first painting was "New Mexico, New Home" and in it I used a diagonal technique with strokes moving from upper right to lower left. Overall it leaves a somewhat rough texture.
Over time I evolved to using smaller, more refined strokes in every direction giving a smoother texture. However, when you zoom in (or stand close to the original painting) the strokes are highly visible, have texture, and provide a sense of motion.
TREND #2: I like saturated, deep jewel tones and dramatic shadows.
When I look at my paintings together what strikes me the most is the dark, sumptuous, rich colors and dramatic lights/darks. As a young person when someone said "pastel" I immediately thought of muted, soft colors. Quite honestly I never liked them! So when I started to work with "pastels" I was hesitant because I thought I'd be stuck using pale colors. Boy was I wrong! Pastels are actually prized for their brilliant color and they are as close to pure pigment you can get.
Also as a young person I was into the theater and took drama/acting classes and as an adult I got into belly dancing and then theatrical belly dancing. There is something about the art form of the theater that attracts me--the lighting, the choreography, the storytelling--it all pulls me in. So when I'm setting up a still life in my studio I am setting the stage with backdrops, lighting that highlights the most important element, and a balance of light and dark to move the eye around the picture engaging the audience and inviting them into the story.
TREND #3: Symbolism and meaning are important in my paintings.
Symbolism has always been an interest of mine, from an early age I've been fascinated by how images can evoke ideas and have collected several books on the topic. My interest started with Egyptian hieroglyphs and expanded to contemporary brand logos--think of the humble apple which now symbolizes a multi-trillion dollar computer company. Meanwhile in art, from the very beginning symbols have been important. For example in Renaissance painting that same humble apple was a religious symbol associated with temptation, evil and sin.
My paintings utilize deep symbolism. For each painting I do a lot of research on the objects I use so that my composition has cultural, societal meaning as well as personal meaning. "Balance of the Sexes" uses an eggplant (a contemporary emoji for male private parts) and peaches (a contemporary emoji for female private parts). Meanwhile the idea that they need to be in balance within each of us as well as in our world at large is a personal daily struggle.
In each painting I'm conveying something personal and intentional.
Quite honestly I have very little interest in painting a "pretty picture" devoid of meaning.
TREND #4: Time for a break.
Maybe you've heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. There are some issues with that theory which you can read about HERE but I get the point. It takes time and practice to get good at something.
Over the past 2 1/2 years I've put in approximately 600 hours creating still life paintings. Along the way I've also spent many hours painting portraits of humans and animals. All told I'm probably around the 1,000 hour mark which, if you believe in the 10,000 hour rule, means I'm a long way from mastering my art form but I've learned a lot and I think it's time for a break.
This summer I'm going outside for some plein air painting. It's going to be all natural light and landscapes where I have zero control of the staging or lighting other than choosing a time of day and a specific view. It will be a whole new challenge and I'm sure I'll learn a lot in the process. 😊