"Still" life

Well, since it's "all the rage"on this blog to look back...I'll sit a spell and drag out some of my earlier efforts.
I took my first painting class with Rob Matthews while I was a freshman at Uarts. I remember thinking at the time that I had never been so frustrated or disappointed with myself. There have been times since when I've felt even worse though...of course this is all a function of being a rather critical individual. On the surface, this appears to be a deplorable trait. In reality it is that quality that continues to reinforce my determination and fuel my drive to become better. I think I have gotten better..

Oh yeah, I remember this one. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my first oil painting. I struggled with a variety of issues on this painting mostly in regards to drawing.

Here's my second still life..ever. This painting was done on a smooth panel with bristle brushes. I had so much trouble handling the paint and not once did anyone suggest that I try using softer brushes. To be fair, it never occurred to me either. I limped along through it the best I could.

Since I was so unhappy with that deplorable first attempt, I did it again (truth be told it was part of the assignment to paint it twice). Anyway, I found a way to apply the paint in a way that I was happier with. Same surface, same brushes but a slightly better coverage.

I did some other work in that class but, for the purposes of comparison, I'm sticking to this genre.

Here's the first still life I worked on at PAFA, nearly 2 years after the first one on this post. The underpainting is not even covered in the majority of this painting. I got to a certain point in the painting and I was like a deer in the headlights. I froze...pitiful. It would have been a nice painting too. I would have liked to finish it.

This for another class but, was done around the same time as the last one. Yeah the purple is hte underpainting. I ffigure that right there is evidence of progress. You see the underpainting is nearly covered all the way up. Right?

The one thing I am neglecting here is the painting I did at the end of last semester that changed everything for me. I never got to finish it but, it was the point when the lightbulb above my head finally turned on. I don't think I will ever sell that painting. Somehow I managed to delete all the pictures of it so it'll have ot wait for another post.

Over the summer, I did a number of these quick, one session paintings. I worked directly in many cases without a preliminary drawing. I was really trying to become more comfortable with what I could do with oil paint. There were a few panels which look simply awful but others, like this one, seemed more or less successful.

Here is another from July.

And still another. The best part of these paintings was that I began to feel confident with the medium. I really needed that. I plan to repeat this process again. It was just this simple: Nearly every weekday throughout July, I set out to paint something. I never planned ahead and no matter what the painting looked like at the end of the day I considered it done. This was quite simply the most liberating way I could think of to do it. No matter how bad things got, I could console myself with the idea that tomorrow I would be able to start with a clean slate. It made me feel free to experiment, make mistakes and solve some problems. I also kept a daily journal. The next morning I would look at the painting and review what I thought was working and what was not. I now have a record of the discoveries and failures I made. I hope everyone tries it at some point.


  Mike M

September 7, 2008 at 8:19 PM

The best thing is you can see steady, solid improvement---and you didn't fold and walk. I was told once you have to do 3000 bad drawings and 300 bad paintings to do a good one. i don't know if those numbers hold true in a universal sense, but the fact is you have to keep slugging away and also learning from each painting.

Moving something akin to peanut butter around on a course surface is one of the hardest things to do.


September 8, 2008 at 6:08 PM

Thanks Mike,
You know I hold your opinion in high regard. If you say I'm improving, I hold your opinion in even higher regard! 300 does seem to be the general consensus. I guess that means we're gonna have to plan a lot more landscape trips. Thanks for the compliments Mike.

  E Palacios

September 11, 2008 at 4:07 PM

Nice progression Dave. Also thanks for the comments over at my blog too.


September 11, 2008 at 8:23 PM

Thanks man, They aren't nearly as impressive a your ladies but, I'll be doin a few of those too this semester.