This is a little 4″x4″ mini painting done on a watercolor board. I have a whole bunch of blank ones in a box somewhere. It’s time to go to the grocery store, I think. Perhaps a pear next, or a pomegranate, perchance?
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After yesterday’s vulture post, this seems appropriate, as it’s also about death, resurrection and the cycle of life.
I did this painting about this time of year five years ago or so. I guess you could call it a plein-aire still life. Although I’m afraid landscape escapes me, I do love to paint outside, and back then I was doing a lot of it. One day I was tramping around in the woods, despairing of ever finding a composition I could handle, when I came across this little jewel lying on the forest floor.
I’m really not sure what animal donated its skull for the occasion. It didn’t seem quite like a deer skull – perhaps a sheep? Anyway, I loved the way Life was just reaffirming its hold on the old bones in the form of delicate Spring Beauty blossoms lovingly embracing them.
I like to think of my find as Nature’s brilliant reply to the old concept of Vanitas. Instead of a meditation on the transience of life and futility of pleasure, it’s a vibrant affirmation of resiliency and the triumph of life even in the aftermath of inevitable death and decay.
The cherries are starting to look less appetizing in real life, but I’ve pretty much got them down.
Now for the background – the fun part! I started out putting in the line of the table but didn’t like it, so opted for a real dark ground, very wet juicy. I used Payne’s gray, Prussian blue, a little pthalo blue, and lemon and Indian yellows, dropped wet into wet.
There’s nothing like watercolor to come up with effects you’d never dream of yourself!
Now the fun part – starting to paint! I figure I’d better get those cherries down first before they start getting fuzzy.
I’m using mostly Winsor & Newton paints on Kilimanjaro paper. I often lay down a light wash before starting but didn’t this time.I’m using a little masking fluid on the highlights – let’s see if it turns out better or worse than without.
My husband walked in and said, “Whoa, looks like those cherries are just floating in midair!”
Last week on vacation I got started on cherries! They’re fun to paint because of the luscious color and the contrast between the plump fruit and the delicate stems.
I like to attack the darks with loads of pigment, just get down as much as I can and leave it. I did do a little layering with more concentrated paint on top (cadmium red for the red highlights, alizarin, prussian blue & Payne’s gray for the dark darks.) No masking fluid on these – the light highlights were saved or lifted while the paint was wet.