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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Paintings I've Not Done Yet--Still-Lifes

My first inclination would be to suggest, if you paint this, to
leave my belly out, but then again, It does add a LOT to the image.
One of the shortcomings amateur photographers often display, especially when traveling, but also in daily life, is (to reverse an old saying) not seeing the trees for the forest. That is to say, we shoot the big stuff while ignoring the details which, in the long run, may make the experience far more memorable. In visiting San Francisco, for example, I was so involved in shooting Golden Gate Park and its bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, the Transamerica Building, the Painted Ladies, etc. to the point I almost ate it before I thought to take a photo of my monumental dessert from the Cheesecake Factory (above). All the other San Francisco experiences are deeply embedded in my mind while my cheesecake was deeply embedded in my waistline (where it remains today). Who could forget the zigzag of Lombard Street? But the biggest stack of fatty calories I ever imbibed? That's where digital photography and architectural pastries shine brightest--just ask Wayne Thiebaud.
Art Nouveau in red and gold.
Apart from food, my favorite still-life subjects are shiny items, either metallic or glassy. Both the tea service sets (above and below) were on display in museums as style icons representing domestic items from two different eras. The golden-hued set was from the Art Nouveau era around the turn of the century when Antonio Gaudi's la Casa Mila was designed and built in Barcelona, Spain. The style today looks quite dated, but at the time was the height of sleek modernism in keeping with Gaudi's architectural statement. The silvery (possibly stainless steel) set below I found at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. It typifies the Art Deco period which followed the set above, as an example of how style evolve and the concept of modernity changes with each generation. It doesn't appear to us as very modern at all.
Though less fussy than Art Nouveau, even the stylish simplicity of the Art Deco style seems dated and not what we'd term "modern" today. It is shiny though. Can you see my reflections?
Venice's chief export
When it comes to painting glass, we often come face to face with art imitating art. That is especially the case with what has come to be known as "art glass," as seen in the display of Venetian Murano glass (left) in which the glass art objects are seen through glass (a shop window). This image I've come close to painting several times but I guess, subconsciously, I've always been a little intimi-dated by its visual complexity. While the glass artistry of Murano (an island next to the two main islands of Venice) is centuries old, that of another island, this one being Malta in the Mediterranean dates back only to about 1968. Maltese Glass (sometimes called Mdina Glass) was founded by Eric Dobson and Michael Harris, who were Royal College of Art col-leagues, with the aim of opening Malta's first ever glassware manu-facturer. The Mdina Glass is now owned and operated by a local family headed by Joseph Said and his wife, Olivia. The company has grown from fifteen employees when founded to more than fifty today, including the four grown Said children. We were there in 2001. The well-lit displays in their gift shop (below) are a photographer's dream. For the painter...not so much.

The contrasting warm and cool colors are, I think, what makes this
a prime possibility for an outstanding example of art imitating art.
And finally, what would a group of still-life photos be without an arrangement of glass wine bottles (utilitarian glass art, perhaps?). We've all seen them, arrayed on a marble-topped table just outside a fancy restaurant along with a sample menu and wine list (which in this case I cropped out as distracting). The menu logo offers a clue as to the restaurant's location, aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas as we were crossing the Atlantic. I'm reminded of the question one British wit aboard Cunard's historic S.S. Queen Mary once asked, "What time does this place get to New York?" We were headed for Barcelona.

Sorry the labels washed out; you'll have to supply your own.

As the tenth group in this series, like the others, these photos are available free of charge for use by painters as source material for their own work on an individual basis. Simply e-mail me with a request to do so at and indicate which photo you would like to use as well as your full name (no nicknames) and geographical location. If you have a website, include the URL; and please, when finished, e-mail me a photo of your painting. These images are not for publication as photos (except on a royalty basis) nor are they in the public domain.


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