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Posts tagged “still life

A rough sketch of some painting tools.

I dug this sketch out of the bin. It ended there along with many others I’m lately not happy with. I feel in an awful slump and nothing seems to work..everything is either too “pretty”, or too perfect or it is just plain bad art. I struggle to find that exciting stroke, or that exciting subject, or even the right medium. I work on small tiny papers and do small tiny challenges. I am in need of freedom and uninhibited expression. I know what I want and what I don’t want..or do I?

I wonder if art can go through menopause…in which case, that is where I would say my art is right now. Going through menopause. I hope it passes soon.

the first one is just pencil contour lines and then of course I didn’t like it and thought colour and pen would make it look better…

painting tools-001…just to realize it doesn’t look better, nor worse.

watercolor, pencil and pen on watercolor block, HP, 18x26cm

painting tools 2-001So. The solution is probably just to carry on and maybe consider not throwing out the awful ones. They should stay with us strive for better, or different, ot both.

à bientôt


Peaches in watercolor

Yay..I’m back to plein air painting after a dry spell of two years…..The oil paintings are busy drying, while outside the thunder is rolling and the rain is showering down, bringing welcome relief to a dry garden. The days are wonderfully hot, hot, hot…I love every sweaty minute! Believe it or not, it is in this sweltering heat that I decided to move out to plein air again with my palette and oils. Summer works for me. In the meantime, some peaches  in watercolor, done with some big round yellow peaches and juicy flat white ones..which are all devoured by now and the cause of some tummy ache…Summer and its fruit does that to me too..

..trois pêches plates.

watercolor and pen on aquarelle block, 18X26cm

trois pêches plates 23-07-2013 19-01-24 6117x4175

..trois pêches jaunes..

watercolor and pen on aquarelle block, 18X26cm

trois pêches jaunes 23-07-2013 19-34-34 6076x4122

Still life with copper pots.

With this second attempt at an aquarelle still life, I didn’t  to set it up the still life. I only painted what was in front of me, which was my copper pots filled with brushes and other art stuff. I moved the objects a little to avoid “kissing” and to bring them a little closer. the apple that rolled to the side, was left as it found its place and I was very chuffed with it!It might be overcrowded for some, but I rather like the idea…in any case  more than a composed and deliberate still life. Maybe it is a mirror of my life…anything BUT composed and deliberate!

… stil life with copper pots…

..in watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper  CP 30.5×45.5cm…

…and a close up of my strokes and layers. I still feel I overworked it and could’ve let go of the brush much sooner..

Still life with quince.

I have moved on from autumn colours to  still lifes, done in the atelier. Working in thin washes, laying wet washes over dry ones. not my usual way of working, but I am quite chuffed and will do a series of these watercolors.

I need to bring in a bit darker values and I want to have more informal compositions. I think my inspiration comes here from Cézanne, whose watercolours I love. There is currently an exhibit of Cézanne in the Musee de Luxembourg in Paris until 26 February 2012, for those who want to jump in their private jets for a visit…and a lunch afterwards, maybe at the Mini palais restaurant?

…Still life with quince…

watercolor and pencil on Fabriano artistico CP, 30,5×45,5cm

I’m posting a close up to show the layering of thin washes.

…close up…

Until the next post where I’ll be back with another still life…hopefully a better one with darker values, more expressive compositions…and one where my patience has reigned!

Two and a half pomegranates in oil.

Now that I have the gallery, I have to do more studio painting, since I can’t lock up every day and go painting plein air. I’m having a hard time though, adapting to studio work  “in public”. I’ve always preferred working privately in my atelier at home. Now I’m very self conscious and I worry about every stroke when there are eyes on me. I get distracted easily by what is going on outside and by people wandering in and out. I initially thought it wouldn’t bother me too much, but it does. Maybe down the road it will change.

…Two and half pomegranates…

oil on board, 40x40cm (15.7×15.7)

I’ve fallen into the habit of starting something in the atelier/gallery and then get completely distracted,  leave it, bring it home and finish it here at night. Like this painting. And it results in not being me. I  find the light very different, the atmosphere is different and even my mood is different. Working on the same still life in two different places just doesn’t sit right with me.

This is a very careful little painting, with no interest. If I look at it, I see a painting done by someone who was afraid to PAINT! Which was exactly the case. There is still this fear and uncertainty that has crept into my oil painting, as I’ve mentioned before.

I was never very fascinated by still life before and I still don’t get very excited about it. But there is a certain kind of meditation that creeps into doing a still life. I experienced it here in the barn at night, when I’m alone and painting on the still life…I sort of like the quietude that a still life conveys. Being someone who doesn’t have a “calm” personalty, I discovered that doing a still life is quite therapeutic for me. I think that is what will make a still life work for me…reaching that moment when I can feel my painting’s quietness, but without having it look and feel static. I will post some more still lifes later.

Afternoon doing drawing

I had a great drawing afternoon with Casey yesterday. It was the first drawing I’ve done in a very long time and Casey said the same for her. As you’ll see over at Casey’s, her drawing is beautiful, as usual.  She has always been so good at drawing. Our first afternoon of drawing years ago was a bowl of eggs in her dining room…maybe we should dig those up one day…

Because she is so quick at drawing and sketching, I set up two subjects to keep her busy for the afternoon, but helas, Casey enjoys talking just as much as drawing…, so you’ll see my attempt here and hers will be the other set up.

…effort number 1…

The first drawing is the one I did yesterday afternoon and I really struggled. The minute I take a drawing tool like a pencil or charcoal in my hand, I tighten up and it turns out a compact, heavy little business. So last night I attempted another one, number two. Unfortunately we’ve had the figs for dinner, so the set up is a little different and my angle changed a little too. This drawing is probably messy and sloppy and quirky, but I’m much happier. Still not what I’m after, but at least it has less “rendering” and more movement and energy. (And yes, the trophy at the back is quite skew, it is bent at the bottom)

…effort number 2…

Both drawings done on in charcoal on drawing block, 50x35cm(19,6×13.7″)

*I’ve once realized how important it is to draw regularly and how different drawing actually is from sketching. Or maybe it isn’t so different after all. If I have to sketch this same scene, it probably wouldn’t look that different!

I’ve also realized the importance of knowing the tools you’re using. I felt very insecure with this charcoal in my hand yesterday, didn’t know where to start, finally started off way too dark, worked with a tight little wrist, smearing all over until everything was one grey value. So, “draw Ronell, draw!”

Life drawing in pastel pencil

In the life drawing class a while ago, we had one long pose and used pastel pencils in black, white and sanguine. I’ve never used pastel pencils before. The closest I came to do something recognizable with pastels, is a little still life I did a few years ago. I dug it out to compare. It was done with soft pastel sticks.

…five a day…

I had a hard time with these pencils. They are harder than the sticks and I kept on coloring in instead of putting in mass. Or maybe it is all the sketching and ink line work I’m doing currently and very little painting. And I didn’t want to smudge the pastel, glazing it, smooth it over. I wanted texture and expressive strokes. But it seems I’ve left her out in the sun for too long…I loved the pose, so maybe I’ll redo this later and try and come up with something more painterly and eye pleasing. Any advice from the pastellists out there?

…fire, fire!…


Painting: carrots in oil

I am trying to do a painting a weekagain. Completed this painting today, a rainy day outside and nice and friendly in front of the fire. I can feel I’m rusty working on a painting. Very impatient and hurried. But I am gliding back into working mode again and inspiration is beginning to open its eyelids, albeit slowly.

Oil on canvas, 30x 25cm

Urns and tennis

I have a passion for urns…Medici, cast iron, soapstone, old stone…I love their shape and touch and smell, their poise and nobility. While I watched the tennis today, my hands looked for something to do. Since I’ve been longing to do a few urns for some time now, I thought I should start right away with the first one, an old French cast iron urn. The first painting is oil on linen which I did a few years ago.It is close to my heart.



This next one is one of three watercolors I did while watching the ladies final at Roland Garos this afternoon. I wanted to go for the same composition as the oil just for comparison. This was the last of my attempts and probably the one closest to what I intended. Maybe because by this time the tennis result was a clear cut thing, no doubt who the winner would be, so my attention was mostly on the paper.The shape is awkward though, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I’m never too fixed on realism. My watercolors are a bit sloppy lately, but my goal is to bring more expressionism into them, to accentuate color more and the big one …to fiddle less


This sketch comes in second. I’m not happy with it, although there is something that makes me look at it again. It is very wild and uncontrolled, dark a with lot of confusing leaves….that actually sounds very much like my mind…. or it could be the tennis. By this stage in the match, it was a very one-sided gameAnd finally, my first attempt right at the beginning of the match, when I still thought it was going to be a tough battle and my attention was eagerly turned more to the game.


There is really no interest in this one, very flat and floating with no excitement. After these attempts I had enough of this urn, however much I love it. I’ll try some others for next time




Dave said…
Interesting exercise to paint the same thing three times. I like all of them, but I think I agree with your order of preference. The oil is outstanding!
June 9, 2007 7:43 PM  
Renate said…
I’m in love with the oil painting. There is something very intriguing in it. Maybe the way you get the light … Don’t know. But it’s great!
June 9, 2007 7:59 PM  
Sandy said…
Love the oil painting too and of the three, my favorite is the bottom one…just gorgeous. But…I’m still thinking about that outdoor kithen and alfresco cooking…yum…I’m hungry..
June 9, 2007 9:35 PM  
:) Silvia said…
All of the paintings are great, but the first one is really outstanding :)!! It’s understandable that you are very fond of it.
June 9, 2007 11:18 PM  
Robyn said…
The urn was the winner on the day. Beautiful all ways. I love the oil – awesome, but my favourite of your ‘tennis’ paintings is the first one. Smashing!
June 9, 2007 11:18 PM  
janey said…
Yes the oil is excellent but actually my favorite is the last one. I like the freedom and the colors.
June 10, 2007 12:43 AM  
Jenny said…
I like them all, and there’s no reason for me to pick one over the others. :)Sports on television cannot hold my attention and something else to do must me found. Needlework is my usual choice if it’s at an uncomplicated point.
June 10, 2007 2:07 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
Ronell, whenever I stop paying attention I miss another fabulous post! this is great, I’ve always loved that oil, and it looks wonderful here – I think my favorite of the watercolors is the last one – it looks like you’re sure of your subject and know where you wanted to go with it, maybe because the composition is a bit simpler. Delightful.
June 10, 2007 4:56 PM  
Lindsay said…
Wow! You have an amazing eye for detail! Great wc sketches too.
June 10, 2007 4:58 PM  
Jana Bouc said…
hese are all amazing and I’m so envious of your oil technique. I think my favorite images of the urn though are the first one (the oil) and the last one. The surface of the urn in the oil is perfect and it looks so weighty and substantial. The values in the last watercolor image are just right and it really stands out.
June 11, 2007 6:45 AM  
hfm said…
Love your persistency… and for me they are good and transparent as I like them.
June 11, 2007 10:40 AM  
Anita said…
Oh Ronell, we share a passion. I can’t pass an urn or a column or ballistrade without running my hands along it’s curves…Which can be rather embarassing for those who are with me at times. LOL!
Your paintings are beautiful. The oil is exceptional and the watercolours show your personality, knowledge of subject and love of colour.
Truly gorgeous!
June 11, 2007 12:40 PM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for your commenst…I rellay apprecieate it.
June 11, 2007 4:09 PM  
Bonny said…
Fabulous, Ronell! To me, all the urn sketches are interesting for their own sake. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated on drawing one thing several times to compare the results. Neat idea!
June 11, 2007 4:21 PM  
Laureline said…
Hey, I love that last one—so what am I, chopped liver?? The whole group is such fun to see and, as always, your narrative is charming and compelling, too.
June 11, 2007 8:10 PM  
Sandy said…
Each rendition is wonderful in it’s own – I cannot sit still to do the same subject repeatedly but this shows how much variety can be achieved – Great work as always.
June 11, 2007 8:17 PM  
wagonized said…
Such an intricate shape to draw / paint. The first one blows me away, quite simply. I think oil is very appropriate for the weight of the urn.
June 12, 2007 5:22 AM  
Carole said…
How do you find the patience to paint the same thing three times! You must learn a lot from doing so. I love the differences in these three paintings, and they all have characteristics that I like. I like the loose expressive style and think you’ve achieved it well. My favourite is, of course, the oil painting. It’s simply stunning.
June 12, 2007 6:31 PM  
Tonniece said…
As always lovely pieces. The oil painting is wonderful Ronell.
June 13, 2007 11:13 PM  
Andrew said…
wowoowwww these are just awesome…so did you watch much of the match:>
June 14, 2007 12:01 AM  
Serena said…
WOW! I’m flat out painting something once let alone four times. The oil is my absolute favourite but the other’s are vibrant with colour and flair. Well done, Ronell ~
June 20, 2007 6:20 AM  
platitudinal said…
I love how your paintings give us hints of your self, Ronell. Today we learn that you have a passion for urns and the reason behind it.Your talent never ceases to amaze me.

Three apples and the rest

Voila my painting of the week – a bowl with fruit.

It took 3 apples to get to the “right” half eaten one.
The first one was so crunchy and sweet and just too delicious, I ate the whole thing. That made me full. I then asked Hartman to eat the second one with specific orders…he just gave 3 huge gulps and only the stem was left…a little bit of deliberation there. There was only one left, so I had to eat the third apple carefully, measuring it against the other three after each bite. And then we went to play tennis. When I got back, the apple turned all brown. I had no apples left. So I played guessing game on the color.

The bowl is made by the artist Carrol Boyes from SA. Using pewter and other materials she makes beautiful bowls and cutlery and office stuff and…and…. to see
her work, which can also be ordered online – www.carrolboyes.com

I love expressionism. I find I can achieve that in oil, a little more challenging in watercolor though. I have a fear of losing the transparency of watercolor….but I think this one isn’t that far off?


Brenda Y said…
Oh, this is marvelous! Definitely you’ve kept the transparency. Gorgeous lights and luscious shadows and a very lovely palette – I like the one green apple, really adds a punch to the trio in the dish. The dish. . . just gorgeous, it absolutely looks like pewter!!
April 21, 2007 7:52 PM  
SCquiltaddict said…
Oh goodness this one is lovely…such a great wc….
April 21, 2007 8:51 PM  
Carole said…
I love what you do with watercolour paint! This is a lovely composition (great bowl!) and the colours simply sing from the page. I like the loose shadow and background, and the way you’ve got the detail of the eaten apple. It’s just so funny that the pair of you nearly ate the still life before you could paint it!
April 21, 2007 9:34 PM  
Felicity said…
Just fabulous! So lovely and loose and those lights just make it zing!
April 21, 2007 9:39 PM  
Teri C said…
Wow, these are wonderful! The colors, reflections and the compostion. I laughed when I read your dilemna of eating all the apples and no wonder, they look so good.
April 21, 2007 10:07 PM  
Fanta said…
Simply stunning, Ronell!
April 21, 2007 10:21 PM  
why said…
i like this one a lot too… the colors, the reflections and the shadows.. great work!
April 22, 2007 12:09 AM  
Lin said…
Ronell — you have such an easy going, painterly gorgeous style — I LOVE IT — and these fruits are delicious looking and spectacular!
April 22, 2007 12:22 AM  
mARTa said…
What beautiful colors, reflections…the apples look so juicy! lovely!
April 22, 2007 1:52 AM  
janeysjournal@aol.com said…
What a lovely little painting. Those highlights just sparkle.
April 22, 2007 3:54 AM  
aPugsLife-laserone said…
Fantastic! I love that there’s an eaten apple in there. :)
April 22, 2007 4:21 AM  
martín said…
Ronell, this is just beautiful! i do love this work!!!! greetings.
April 22, 2007 4:52 AM  
Karen said…
very well done Ronell
April 22, 2007 8:23 AM  
Tonniece said…
Hi Ronell
Thought I’d come out of the woodwork.
I love this piece and the great story behind it also. Great blog here, I visit often.
Thanks for visiting mine and for the nice comment on my.
April 22, 2007 1:11 PM  
Linda said…
GREAT piece! It’s just too bad that you had to go through all that trauma of eating apples to get to this point, but we must suffer at times for our work, mustn’t we?! ;-) The colors are marvellous — very transparent and with juicy brushstrokes. This is a keeper!
April 22, 2007 2:28 PM  
E-J said…
What an unusual bowl! There’s a wonderful fresh, transparent look to this. And I think the half-eaten apple’s the best part :-)
April 22, 2007 3:24 PM  
Africantapestry said…
Thank you for taking the time to look and comment…I appreciate it!
April 22, 2007 4:28 PM  
caseytoussaint said…
Ronell, I’m so far behind! My preview button kept showing the same old post – now I know notto trust it! Lovely job on this, it really just glows. This is the effect I keep trying to get – and you do it so effortlessly.
April 23, 2007 10:57 AM  
Robyn Sinclair said…
Luscious, loose and very much back to your old form I see. Just gorgeous! I’ve missed a whole lot of posts too!
April 23, 2007 11:22 AM  
Christeen said…
You are, aparently, a master of the color guessing game- this is a delightful painting :)
April 23, 2007 5:10 PM  
phthaloblu said…
Sacrificing the body, or in this case the stomach, for your art. Well done!
April 24, 2007 3:17 PM  
platitudinal said…
“It took 3 apples to get to the ‘right’ half eaten one” — Shucks, Ronell, I think I need to start drawing something that I can eat too. Hmm … should I start with subject like a half eaten cake? I wonder how many pieces I need to eat before I get the perfect half eaten look. (Sigh) Things that we must do for art’s sake!“Have to guess the colors.” Wow, they look really good, Ronell! Those apples, and the perfectly half eaten one, look so luscious and delicious!

Three times different

These are the results of my drawing afternoon with Casey yesterday. I tried something different to get out of my rut and ran into all kinds of trouble. Not that I can define “something different”…


The first one is just plain ugly and I’ve deleted it a few times from the blog, but decided finally to keep it. I wanted so many things fitted in and I chose the smallest format. I didn’t even complete it, just grabbed a brush pen and filled in some rough lines.


After Casey had left, I gave it another try, obstinate to get this scene in my pocket! I don’t feel much for this sketch…proportions are completely wrong, some ugly darks, even more cramped, in spite of a bigger format. Overall just a bad, disturbing painting that makes me want to come up for air.The third one I did this afternoon and decided it would be now or never. The plants need to get into the ground. I was still obstinate, so I kept to the same scene. I used an even larger format and this time I did use all the space. There is still too much detail and finicky pieces and not enough depth, but this it! I still can’t say what it is I wanted to do differently. I at least hope this last one broke my spell. 


 Watercolor on Fabriano HP. See Casey’s painting from yesterday, she also tried something different…take a look http://caseytoussaint.wordpress.com/



Dave said…
You’re too hard on yourself! And anyway, trying something different is always with doing!
April 18, 2007 10:21 PM  
bec said…
I like the way you made the table and chair less of a focal point in the third try….it doesn’t compete for attention. I want a table and chair set like the one you painted. I bet your garden is beautiful!
April 19, 2007 1:26 AM  
Lindsay said…
I love them all! This was a hard subject and your really stuck with it. I wish I could come out with you and Casey!! Lucky you.
p.s. This is supposed to be “FUN”.
No being mean to yourself!
April 19, 2007 2:56 AM  
Brenda Y said…
Third time is the CHARM! I really like this! It’s so “SPRING.” Truly, this would look fantastic framed and hung on a sun porch. I love all the objects (particularly fond of the hat) and the pop of color from the pot of flowers is just perfect.
Thanks for posting all three! It’s really encouraging to see the progression and perseverance!!
April 19, 2007 3:21 AM  
Teri C said…
Bravo to you for your persistance. I love the third one but I also like the other ones too. It looks like a difficult subject, and I’m sure you learned a lot on the way.
April 19, 2007 4:51 AM  
caseytoussaint said…
Ronell, all three of these came out great. I don’t think the first one is ugly at all, as a matter of fact I think it’s full of charm. On the second one you’ve done an incredible job on the chair – you can just feel the texture of the metal basketweave, and the third is light and airy.
You have a distinctive style in watercolor, very elegant and yet relaxed(very French somehow) that brings to mind illustrations from the 1950s.
April 19, 2007 8:21 AM  
Carole said…
Actually, I really like the quality of the lines on the first one, and I also like the tones of the wash. The third one has a nice quality of light to it, and I love the flowers, particularly the flower on the hat. It’s a beautiful composition overall, so well done for sticking with it! I think it bore fruit, don’t you?
April 19, 2007 2:36 PM  
Sandy said…
Glorious taste of springtime, I love your work and envy you and Casey and your challenge/committment – Can’t wait to see them each week, who knows maybe I can join in some time.
April 19, 2007 8:11 PM  
platitudinal said…
What a dedicated artist you are! I love all of them. And, I’m glad you posted all of your tries. Each one has something special that the other doesn’t have.
April 20, 2007 12:35 PM  
Jana Bouc said…
Good for you to keep going until you get what you were striving for. The funny thing is that my favorite is the first one. I know it didn’t capture the look you wanted but it’s still a wonderful piece. The last one is technically better but the first one is full of energy and expressiveness somehow. They’re all worthy of appreciation though and not at all ugly!
April 20, 2007 6:06 PM  
Ujwala said…
All three are wonderful but I too especially like the first one.All the best with your new goal.
April 20, 2007 8:50 PM  
mARTa said…
well, the first one has it’s own charm, What I like about the 2nd one is the chair and compositon. The 3rd is light and airy and just as lovely.
So where is France are you and Casey? I will be in paris for 8 days in October…just roaming and skething…maybe we can meet and paint?
April 22, 2007 1:54 AM  
aPugsLife-laserone said…
These are really great! I love how determined you are. :) :)
April 22, 2007 4:21 AM  
Linda said…
Well, I love the last one, so I guess the third time is the charm, although I don’t know how you did three paintings of the same thing — all in a row! I would have been pulling my hair out!
:-) All three have their good bits, though, as I think has been well stated by earlier commenters.
April 22, 2007 2:26 PM  
Africantapestry said…
thank you for all the comments…much apprecaited!
April 22, 2007 4:29 PM  
phthaloblu said…
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Any time you step outside your comfort zone, you are going to be challenged. Not only on how you see your subject, but on how you interpret it also. I think these are wonderful little sketches. Keeping playing with them and something will come out of it that will satisfy you. Just remember, it’s always a learning experience.


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