Updated: Jan 17
When I set up a still life for a painting, I start with an object I find interesting and then rely on my instincts to guide me toward a narrative. This approach of feeling my way through the process without a specific theme or idea in mind tends to result in unexpected compositions that look less forced. I also find that I reach for a wider variety of props than I would otherwise and end up with a collection of things that have different physical characteristics. If all goes well, the painting will be like a visual buffet of form, texture and color.
In my painting, Our differences don't matter much in the grand scheme of things (shown at the bottom of this post), I initially paired the glass bird with the rubber duck precisely because the two things were made out of very different materials. I was excited about the challenge of trying to paint the illusion of something made out of glass juxtaposed with something made out of plastic.
I found the combination of the two objects instantly appealing and it was obvious that there was more going on than the difference between glass and plastic. These things felt "right" together. After spending some time with them, it occurred to me that what was interesting about the combination had less to do with differences and more to do with commonalities. The fact that they are both similar in size, clad in primary colors and replicas of birds, oddly hadn't occurred to me when I first put the two together.
What's worth noting about the process of creating this still life is that by narrowly focusing on differences, it's easy to be blind to commonalities. I realize I'm talking about a tiny shift in perception that seems extremely obvious now that that painting is done. But still, food for thought. Because if it happens in art, it happens in life.
Our differences don't mean that much in the grand scheme of things
Oil on linen, 12 X 12 inches