Sour and Sweet

A few weeks ago, I started this still life at a workshop given here by Bruce Williamson, a visiting artist/teacher from Texas. Unlike the other members of our class who used oils, I was working in acrylics.

Bruce would begin each class with a demonstration ( think of it as You Tube LIVE ).

As a visual learner, and aren’t most artists, I gained so much by watching him begin to fill in spaces. And hear his mental process, not because we were psychics but because Bruce, while working, was telling us how he translates what he sees into what he applies.

By the time his demo was over, it was midday and the sun was directly on top of us which gave our still life set-up the very sharp shadows as you can see in the photo.

It also very nicely baked my paints into a abstract form on my palette, much faster than I could paint. That’s the Sour in the title.

But I liked the beginnings. It taught me to work fast and not over think each stroke. I took it home and worked on it in the studio, using the photo as a reference ( what did we do before digital cameras??).

How we look at shadows- they’re not one color. There are at least 6 colors in each object and its’ shadow. The true color, the mid-tones of the true ( or local ) color, the shadow of the object, the shadow of the object reflected on the surface, and finally the best part- the little highlight on the true color that gives the object its’ “ping “.

Who could have known you’d need an abacus to tally the contents of your work while you’re having at it!!

Art is math. Art is science. And some darn fine teaching too.

This is what I finished in the studio.

-I’m very happy with the lemon. I adjusted the pear to be more grounded into its’ axis- it wasn’t leaning authentically. The apple, well, I’m learning to compensate for how acrylics dry darker than you think they will but I’m not into overworking this piece anymore.

What I did get out of it was a sense of having fun while doing it. I haven’t done a still life in a very long time.

How pedestrian, to be living in the Caribbean and presenting you with a trio of fruit you could find in a convenience store on the interstate! But mango season is coming right up and hopefully may compensate your disappointed eyes.

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15 Responses to “Sour and Sweet”

  1. Nancy Moskovitz Says:

    I was hoping you would post more from the workshop, and I am far from disappointed. The subject may be pedestrian, but not the painting or your writing! Your artistic interpretation (that’s the part the instructor really cannot teach.) is what makes this painting sing. What size is it?

  2. bonnieluria Says:

    Welcome back Nancy and thanks for your good words. The painting is 12X16-
    I also benefited from some new brushes- Silver Bristlon flats in several sizes. I love their longer body and sharp edges.

    Thanks for checking in regularly. Are you back from Sapelo Island yet? I love those hot peppers on your newest post.

  3. Carol King Says:

    Pedestrian Schmedestrian. Your fruit painting is fabulous.

  4. Sharon Crute Says:

    I’ll say it’s fabulous!
    There’s so much energy in those fruits I can feel the molecules vibrating. The new brushes fit you perfectly. The piece looks so autocratic, the little lemon is crouching from the gazing weight of the apple and the discerning pear…now that’s injecting life into a painting!

  5. bonnieluria Says:

    Sharon- you can paint a paragraph too, can’t you! Autocratic- who would have thought to use that to describe a collective of three fruits.
    I thank you and blush.

    Don’t you so enjoy the company of artists too?

  6. Jo-Ann Says:

    You may be stuggling with the medium, but I think you’re winning! This is a beautiful, well balanced little painting. Congrats! Try a little Liquitex Flow Aid. Put a few drops in the water when painting outside. It helps without changing anything or getting sticky.

  7. Paz Says:

    How very interesting — this art process. So, why did you decide to use acrylic over oils? What’s the difference anyway? Can you tell I”m not an artist? LOL! I love your finished product. Very nice outcome. Mangoes are my favorite! I can’t wait to see your artistic painting of them. πŸ˜‰

    Paz

  8. Frank Gardner Says:

    Hi Bonnie. You did a great job with this. Looks like you got a lot out of the workshop. Acrylics are hard on location in the hot sun. I think the apple and lemon work a little better than the pear, but they are all good.

    You don’t have mangoes over there yet? I love mangoes so much. We have had fresh ones here for months though. I can just sit here and eat a bunch of them. They make me so happy and relaxed. Just ate one as a matter of fact.

  9. bonnieluria Says:

    Frank- You’re so right about the pear and I knew as I was doing this that I had already overworked it but dagnabbit I wanted to not give up on it either!
    I tried using this canvas as a lesson platform but somehow couldn’t get the light to glow off the left side of that fruit the way it did in the lemon and apple.
    At a point I said ” Enough “! Move on.
    What I did get out of the workshop was a loosening up of the hand into the arm, which made up for the orneriness of the acrylics on a hot tin roof!

    I checked your new painting on your site today and it’s luminously beautiful. As always.
    For whatever reason, our mango season starts in June.
    We have an big event here in early July called Mango Melee.
    Almost all the varieties come into fruit and our local Botanical Garden hosts this impressive event. Cook-offs with mangoes, piles of them for sale ( cheap, like zucchini of the north ), and all things related to my favorite fruit ever.
    I feel so sad for people who are allergic to them, being in the poison ivy family, it’s a potential problem.

  10. bonnieluria Says:

    Hi Paz- acrylics are water based ( petroleum to be precise ) but mix with water, and dry almost at once. Oils are, well, oil based and mix with mediums like linseed oil and turps.
    I used oils years ago in school where we had drying racks and ventilated rooms to work in.
    When I left and was in a small space in an apartment, it was too much to manage so I converted to acrylic.

    Now that I have a studio space and open air, I’m going to try oils again later in the summer.

    Have you seen the mango on stick down by Union Square?
    Some street vendors sell these huge mangoes, lanced on a big wooden skewer, peeled and scored and you walk with it while eating it like a huge, sweet, dripping lollipop.
    You have to try it and, well, maybe get a photo or two.
    They were there last summer when i was up.
    Have a good weekend-look forward to more photos.

  11. Frank Gardner Says:

    I had no idea that mangoes were in the poison ivy family. We had a friend once who ate a few then her whole mouth and surrounding area swelled up. It was bad for her, but it looked kind of funny. Did not know that could happen before that.

    They sell the mangoes on a stick here to, with chili powder. MMMMMMMM.

  12. Tracy Says:

    Hey Bonnie,

    I’m in awe with what you can do with acrylics! Isn’t perspective an amazing thing. I keep trying to look at the fruit, but my untrained eye is continually drawn to the cloth and your interpretation of its texture and the color nuances caused by the fabric wrinkles. Fruit? What fruit? I’m loving that piece of cloth! xxoo

  13. Paz Says:

    thanks for the explanation, Bonnie.

    Yes, I buy the mango on a stick anytime I have a chance. They sell it uptown and give you an option of putting salt on it. Love it! Frank mentioned chili powder. I haven’t tried that yet, but MMMMMM is right. I know I’d love it. πŸ˜‰ Thank God I’m not allergic to mangoes. Next time, I will take a photo or two of them.

    Paz

  14. bonnieluria Says:

    Paz- thanks for visiting Mary Schwalms’ site.

    I’m coming to NY for my annual visit on June 18th and will be looking for those mango sellers. Frank is so right about the chili powder.
    Since living here, my threshold for spicy has risen in yards!

  15. bonnieluria Says:

    Hi Tracy- thanks for peeking in again. That cloth was an improvised, faded T-shirt that was in my car forever, and came in handy for our plein air workshop still life. Otherwise the table we had was stark white which, in the noon day sun, completely bleached out the fruit.
    Faded, yes, but still appreciated by someone in Tunisia.

    Sounds like you’ve had some experience with acrylics yourself.

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