I’ve been working on a piece to take to a course on still life I’m teaching soon, so I can show the students a stage by stage example. It’s at the RBSA Galleries, where I’m fortunate to be having work on show anyway during the course, but didn’t really do the relatively straightforward still life works for it that I had originally planned. It’s a course based on still life paintings throughout history, inspired by a Taschen book I bought, and by a variety of artists, one of whom is Mary Fedden, whose work I admire. I have asked that people bring a small selection of objects that have meaning for them or simply things they just like. I would for instance like to tackle at some point the food still life, especially with a giant cabbage, amongst other fuit and veg., and those Dutch flower paintings are luscious.
I chose a simple jug we’ve managed to own for 30 years, a plum, a blue flower, and some prints of recent photographs taken in Wales, and started with a few drawings as well as working from the photographs of the objects too. I do this as I have a terrible habit of over complicating work in the early stages, as for years I painted in a quite realistic way, and don’t want to get sucked back into that. I simplify the drawn images stage by stage and during the eventual lay down of the textile even more stylisation will go on. I had to let the landscape bit in as it’s my current interest, but realise that these mountains are quite reminiscent of the Lake District we visited for many years, mainly because of the gaps I decided to leave between the hills, which look like water, a pleasant and unplanned development. That’s why I like this technique so much, it always surprises. I would quite like to do more variations on this simple but time honoured theme, the combination of the unpretentious object and the distant view.
Here are some images of the design sheet, with some ideas on it for large scale work involving manipulating the elements of the design too, and the work laid down before stitch and probable abstact ink marks being applied.