Creating A Classic Still Life by Wilson Bickford


Still life is one of my favorite subject matters. For me, it's the challenge of capturing the realism of the objects involved. Quite often, I will utilize the Old Masters' "indirect" approach of laying down a "grisaille" underpainting, then layering glazes and applying final highlights. There's no question that this is a very effective method which yields very convincing results.
However, there are times when I take a more "direct" approach, as in the sample shown herein.
This painting was rendered "alla prima" ( basically wet-on-wet ) on a Black Acrylic Gesso primed canvas. I used no preliminary sketch, but rather laid out the objects and composition with a flat brush as I went. I simply roughed in the shapes and defined and refined them as the work progressed.
I knew in advance that I would want to glaze certain areas to bring out richer hues, so I added an Alkyd medium ( Liquin ) to my paints, which literally dried my canvas over-night. The next day, I was able to add glazes and brighten highlights to bring it to the finished degree you see here.
I used Jerry’s own SOHO OILS for this work. If you haven't yet tried them, you should.
Remember that when rendering still life, it's very important to show a broad range of values; lights, mid-tones and darks. Notice how I emphasized some really dark passages, but balanced it with some very light accents (and all the tones in between).
Also, note that by suggesting "reflections" of the fruit and crock, a table surface was only implied and not actually spelled out to the viewer. It wasn't necessary because I was able to make the viewer "see" it and "sense" it, even though it's minimal in the interpretation. Ah,... the power of suggestion!

Levels of Observation by Cheryl Whitestone

I have to say, after 45 years of painting, I have truly trained myself to see. To see in a way that not only understands the energy, feeling or beauty of something or someone but the minute details and nuances that compose the thing I am viewing. I believe if you can truly see, you can paint anything. It is like putting a subject under a microscope. But be careful because this can leak into your life, and it can be easy to see all the imperfections that reside in the world and even in yourself. That's when you need to put on rose-colored glasses and know turning away from irritating issues or resolving them quickly is the best medicine.
I had a friend that confessed that he was scared of me, or rather artists in general. He said it was because he felt they could see through him. In some ways, this is probably true. But I assured him artists, or at least myself, were more curious than anything else.

Audrey Flack said in her book "Art & Soul, Notes on Creating" about seeing:
"When I am working from a photograph, a transparency, or direct observation, I am always amazed at how much more I see as the painting progresses. After I think I have completely perceived a particular area, something else reveals itself. As the work continues, the level of awareness deepens. The process takes its own time. I have come to accept that time and not fight it. I know when I begin my work, no matter how hard I try,
I'll never observe as much on the first day as I will on the last. Life like development will not be rushed, nor will there be full realization before completion..."

I understand DaVinci sat and observed the paintings he was working on for days without making a single brush stroke. Here's what I have been observing and working on:

"The Murphys' Walk on the Beach" 24"x36" Oil Portrait on Linen


Preparing for an Upcoming Exhibition of my Art by TMNK


I've been asked to speak at the upcoming G40 Summit. Actually I'm waxing metaphors here. I'm not really speaking. The G40 Summit is a group exhibition of contemporary art and I've been given the honor of having my art, my creative voice included. I tend to view the opportunity to exhibit, like being asked to give a speech, an opportunity to share a profound message with my audience.

"Ladies and gentlemen... ," yeah, that's the hard part. What do I say, and how do I say it? I could just speak extemporaneously, or ramble on, or perhaps tell a few jokes. I could draw abstract references to arcane matters, but none of these are my style. I was inspired by great orators like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and Chuck D., so my message must be powerful and have lasting impact. I view an exhibit as much more than an opportunity to show off my newest work; it's an opportunity to have my work impact future generations. It's an opportunity and responsibility I take very seriously.

The curators of the G40 - The Summit issued a call to arms for political art, so I decided to address domestic terrorism. While much attention is placed on the importance of hunting down those "foreign" enemies that would seek to do us harm, I hope the body of work I contributed to this exhibition will provoke a discussion, and perhaps influence change, about the harm we do to each other. The violence that erupts daily in our streets, destroys innocent lives, and leaves many living in terror.

Yes, exhibits are opportunities for the artist to sell their work, and to share their creative offerings with the public. And sometimes, as history has shown us, art can have social and political relevance. I heard the call to arms, and responded with work that questions humanity's inhumanity, and the influences thereof. I saddened daily by the reports of friendly fire in our neighborhoods and the collateral damage that lay in the wake.
There's a war going on. Art is my weapon.

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