Resources : References and Inspiration
Still Life : Joe's Projects
June 2020
Flowers in a Vase

For a new still life challenge have a go at painting a single vase of flowers to celebrate Spring! I have added a wonderful still life painting by Delacroix for inspiration!

I also include a painting by John Constable - it is painted on ‘Millboard’ which is a heavy duty cardboard made by pasting thin sheets of paper together to make a painting surface. Like cardboard it is not very durable so Constable pasted it onto a wooden panel. The Constable was painted in 1814, whereas the Delacroix was painted twenty years later.

The paintings are quite similar - there is great tonal contrast in each picture which adds drama to the images. The light on the petals is painted  colourfully and impasto so that the light bounces back to the viewer. In contrast the darker areas are generally painted quite thinly to absorb light which makes them look darker - this all adds vitality to the painting.

May 2020         

I would like our next project to be about the idea of ’breakfast.’ I was inclined to use some paintings by John Bratby to influence our thinking. However - I appreciate his painting skills but if I’m honest I find his work quite miserable - apologies if you are a fan - if you are - here is a link to one of his works!

Instead I include quite a joyful painting about breakfast, by the artist Charles Sovek whom I referred to in the second image. I really like how the artist has used colour and pattern together with the way that the yellow underpainting ties the whole composition together. 

The second painting is by Willem Claesz Hedda. I really like Dutch still life paintings of the 17th century. Technically it is an extremely well rendered painting. The luminosity of the tones and colours derives from the fact that the artist has used a dark ground on which to build his composition.


We continue our theme around breakfast for the next couple of weeks. I have included a Painting by Roger Fry who was a member of the Bloomsbury group. He was a great supporter of modern French painting and a highly influential critic who operated within the larger group of British artists writers that I’ve mentioned earlier, including Duncan Grant,  Vanessa Bell, and Virginia Woolf.

I don’t think Roger Fry rated himself as a great artist but I like the way he uses colour and the fact that his paintings are clearly influenced by Matisse and the post Impressionists. The breakfast table itself is painted really well and it includes some  beautiful and subtle colours modulating across the tablecloth. 

I have also included a lovely still life painting by a British artist Anna Hyman. The composition is good and the picture can be read in both an abstract and representational way. I have  noticed that  the blue/black drawing and the shapes and pattern tie the composition together - this  takes the viewers eye in a journey across the surface of the painting.


Our next project is entitled cupboard - I am seeing it as a metaphor for our time! I have included a lovely painting by  Bonnard ‘ the red cupboard’ which contains radiant red light.

I like the way that the painting is structured using the form of the cupboard to organise the pictorial space.I also attach one of my own paintings called ’uncle Basil’s cupboard ‘ it was painted in 1986. The cupboard was made by my uncle Basil before the Second World War, and I painted it as a memorial to him.

We will continue our ‘cupboard’ theme this week. Whilst I was looking for images and ideas about this theme I came across the attached painting by John Bratby - a member of the broad ‘kitchen sink’ movement of the 1950’s / 60’s. It is a remarkably busy painting and his ‘trademark’ Cornflake packet appears on the left hand side of the composition!

There is young boy on the right hand side of the painting - that might be Jason his son who was a student at the RA when I was there - I don’t remember his paintings because he used to wander in and out of the Schools and I don’t know whether he completed the course.However  I remember him very well as he had his hair cut very short and shaved into a dyed spiral of a snake curled across the top of his head! 

April 2020

Continuing our theme around abstract and gestural approaches to still life painting I have had a look at the work of Anton Evmeshkin - he is a young Ukrainian artist - other paintings by him can be found in Saatchi Art. The first  picture uses gestural and painterly marks. I like the subtle colours of the background contrasted with the heavy impasto dark painting of the flowers, vase and petals. 


The second of his works uses gestural and expressive brushstrokes set against a similar background to the first picture. This contrasts with the simple rendering of the red crimson foreground. I also like the composition where the petals fall on a diagonal across the picture from left to right. The flower that drops into the lower section of the picture by the vase ties the two sections of the picture together very neatly.

I have attached a couple of paintings by the American artist Annie O’Brian Gonzalllez. The first is a flattened attracted composition that I think works very well. I like the way that the stripes contrast o well with the organic plant shapes at the top of the picture.

The second painting is a much simpler arrangement of shapes - again I like the contrast of the stripes against the leaves and petals, together with the jaunty positioning of the vase!

March 2020

Our next project will be a clear change in direction - I would like to base our next series of works within the gestural and expressive area of still life painting. I would like to use the work of Ivon Hitchens as the catalyst for our thinking. I would suggest a table top with a number of objects and fabrics with a range of pattern and shapes. I have attached one of his paintings that I think combines elements of both representation and abstraction.

I have attached a couple of lovely Hitchin paintings to inspire our current theme. The first painting sold at Sotheby’s for £250k which is a little below what I thought his work would fetch at auction. I like the way that the white of the canvas becomes a part of the drawing within the picture - it’s been very cleverly done.

The second painting is - I think - in progress -  it is a work that demonstrates Hitchens working methods. If you look closely at the painting  you can see his initial drawing and how he has developed his original ideas. I always enjoy looking at an unfinished painting because you can see the way that the artist is thinking.

Flowers in a single pot

I have added three paintings based on our current flower theme  - another painting by Constable, a Van Gogh, and a painting by Tony Rubio using Van Gogh techniques. Would you know that the latter work was not by Van Gogh? I have also attached a couple of paintings by Picasso based on our theme. Both paintings are from around 1901 - they are both compositionally very interesting especially the first painting. I like the way that the blue shapes around the flowers have been used both as a dark and a light. Note the handle of the pot on the right, and the way that the leaves on the right hand side of the pot are used to tie the picture together. Picasso used such devices very deliberately - I remember that the way he uses compositional tools is observed and then described very precisely  by Francoise Gilot in her book ‘ Life with  Picasso

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