Saturday, December 31, 2011

WEEK #40 / Glass Fishing Buoy

Glass Fishing Buoy
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 5" x 7", 2011

A CHANGE OF VENUE

Recently I was asked to be member of a major New York art gallery, Hirschl & Adler Modern. It is a big deal.
Hirschl and Adler Gallery is taking part in the annual NY Armory Show which opens on March 7. They have requested from me a new and large American based painting for this exhibition. Wow! New and large. I am up for it , but it will be challenging to find enough day light hours to complete this new piece and still post a new painting each week for the blog.
The gallery ( Hirschl & Adler Modern) is supportive of my efforts in completing this blog project and the planned June show of the 52 paintings at Clark Gallery. But it is important to me that I am getting work to them as well.

Do I give up the Aponovich 52 and concentrate on the new painting?
or
Do I finish this blog project risking not completing the large piece?

As usual, Beth had an idea for a sensible solution......paint the large piece and paint studies to post each week that document the process. So please bear with me as I combine both.


THE APPLEDORE PAINTING


James Aponovich
Detail: Appledore Still Life

The new painting is set on Appledore Island, part of the Isles of Shoals off the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine. I cannot show a preliminary sketch because I do not have one...it is all in my head. At this point everything is fairly malleable, but here you can see that the fishing buoy is fully drawn. Above it, taped to the canvas, is a sketch of a tidal pool which will define part of the land/ seascape.

So,stay tuned......remember I told you it was going to be a bumpy ride!




copyright 2011 James Aponovich




Saturday, December 24, 2011

Week #39 / Three Mandarin Oranges

Three Mandarin Oranges
James Aponovich
oil on panel. 10" x 8", 2011

Right now it's Christmas Eve. I just finished the painting. Family is arriving through the door, dogs are barking and my services are required in the kitchen.
Happy Holidays
WELCOME YULE !


Sunday, December 18, 2011

WEEK 38/ A Bunch of Radishes

A Bunch of Radishes
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 9" x 9", 2011


GETTING EDGY AND TENSE

I have written about the power of the center ( week #7). In this painting of radishes I am interested in the tension that the sides of the composition exert on the subject matter. In other words, how to build tension. These radishes are more or less life size and if they were part of a larger grouping of objects they would appear small. By bring the sides of the canvas close to the tissue a certain tension is created and it gives the radishes a larger and more significant scale.


Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664)
Quinces
oil on canvas, 14" x 16"
Museo D'art, Barcelona

Here the tension is carried to an extreme as the edge of the canvas actually crops the top of the quince. The composition gives the fruit a monumentality which is almost suffocating. I wonder if it is a fragment of a larger painting.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789)
Basket of Apples
Pastel on vellum, 14" x 18"

Liotard has given his subject matter more breathing room. It results in a more serene and in my opinion a slightly more boring picture.



"I GOT RHYTHM"
Ira Gershwin


Next to my easel I have a piece of paper where I have written the eight Platonic Requirements for Art. They have become my daily mantra. The last one is rhythm. Visual rhythm is energy, movement and sequencing . I have tried to make the radishes and the surrounding tissue visually rotate. At the same time, although the format is square, there is an upward building of form which gives the appearance of a more vertical composition, kind of like a Dutch windmill.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

WEEK 37 / Daylilies in a Canton Bowl

Daylilies in a Canton Bowl
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 13" x 17", 2011

This painting began as a presentation piece for a larger commissioned painting,. the central theme is a bowl full of flowers. I gave the patron three different flower possibilities: tulips, daylilies and peonies. She ended up choosing peonies ( the most difficult). Anyway, the study was lying around the studio so, as I am apt to do, I decided to paint an Italian landscape from my sketchbook.


ON THE ROAD TO ANGHIARI

The landscape is situated in Eastern Tuscany between Arezzo and Borgo San Sepolcro, near Anghiari. Anghiari is significant for two reasons: it is home to the Busatti fabric mill
(the cloth in the painting is Busatti) and it was the site of a famous Renaissance battle between the Florentines and the Milanese. Leonardo DaVinci painted The Battle of Anghiari and some scholars think the painting is located in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence ( they won the battle).
It may be behind a fresco by by the mediocre painter / great biographer Giorgio Vasari. Next time you are in the Uffizi, he was the architect.
It is an interesting controversy so stay tuned.


THE PIERO TRAIL


Piero Della Francesca
The Resurrection, 1463
Palazzo Comunale
Borgo San Sepolcro, Italy
Fresco

"The best picture in the world."
Aldous Huxley

Every summer thousands of tourists pursue what is called "The Piero della Francesca Trail".
In a single day they leave their rented villas in Chianti and drive successively to Arezzo, Monterchi, Borgo San Sepolcro, and if they still have stamina, Urbino. All the masterpieces in one day. Then they can say the have "done" the Piero Trail........please.
Beth and I did go to San Sepolcro to see this fresco. This was Piero's home town. We stayed in a charming hotel which had a pretty good restaurant and we experienced what the Italians call una passeggiata, an evening stroll. We never made it to Urbino, but I did find this fabric and as we always say," un' altra volta."




copyright 2011 James Aponovich



Friday, December 2, 2011

WEEK 36 / Malted Milk Balls

Malted Milk Balls
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 11" x 9", 2011


ODE TO COMMON THINGS

Recently Beth and I were in a small antique shop in our neighboring town. It is a very sweet place with old linens, plates, silver and every sort of bric a brac . I was asked why I do not paint some of the objects that I was admiring there in the shop. I thought for a minute and replied;
"These things are too nice."

That is to say, they didn't need transformation. Although very tastefully attractive they would have not been very interesting on canvas. A poem by Pablo Neruda came to mind. It's a poem about a French fried potato:

FRENCH
FRIES
GO
INTO THE PAN
LIKE THE MORNING SWAN'S
SNOWY
FEATHERS
AND EMERGE
HALF-GOLDEN FROM THE OLIVE'S
CRACKLING AMBER...

ODE TO FRENCH FRIES
Pablo Neruda


French Fries! So,having cleaned the studio out for Thanksgiving dinner I found this bag of malted milk balls long forgotten on a shelf. Although old they still retained a glossy, rich surface. At the same time I was writing an appointment into the calendar and noticed a painting by Egon Shiele.



Egon Shiele
Portrait of Gerti Shiele, 1909
55" x 55", oil and stuff on canvas
The Museum of Modern Art, New York


Egon Shiele was an Austrian artist who briefly flourished during Vienna's Belle Epoque period. He died during the Great Influenza epidemic of 1919 at the age of 28.
You take your influences wherever you find them.
There is a saying that people who have died still live in the memories of those who loved them. Perhaps. Sometimes when I look at an old painting it seems so alive to me that I can almost touch the artist.






copyright 2011 James Aponovich


Sunday, November 27, 2011

WEEK 35 / A Small Basket of Strawberries

A Small Basket of Strawberries
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2011


It is now holiday season and time is getting tight. For me, this is as simple as it gets, a basket of strawberries composed within a triangle, smack in the middle with a horizontal line of Italian pine trees and the distant buildings.


Compositional Study: A Small Basket of Strawberries

Or so it seems. Actually the still life is slightly shifted to the left, the vertical axis resting on the Golden Section. In other words, it's dynamically askew.






copyright 2011 James Aponovich


Sunday, November 20, 2011

WEEK 34 / Papers on a Chalk Board

Papers on a Chalk Board
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 11.5 " x 8.5", 2011


FIBONACCI'S PUZZLE

This painting confused me. It began as a straight forward study of cards, papers and the ever present "Classical" reproduction. Essentially it was meant to be a practice piece ( along with week 30) for a series of trompe l'oeil panels. Everything in the composition is a bit askew except for the still life reproduction that is centered and parallel to the sides, aka. in the middle....
an art school no no.
As I was working with the composition I kept thinking of the early Soviet / Russian artist Casimir Malevich and the Swiss Dada artist Kurt Schwitters. Remember, remove the imagery and you have simple shapes.
But I do use imagery and usually I would have placed a reproduction of a Filippino Lippi or a Botticelli in the center. I instead painted an Aponovich still life of tulips. The problem I encountered was when I was painting the playing card or the parking garage stub I was simply coping the surface, two dimensional to two dimensional. It all rested on the surface plane of the panel, however, when I started painting my own still life I began painting into the panel, extending depth. It was very unsettling, like being a bit sea sick.

It brought to my mind an old Chinese story that goes something like this:
Chuang - Tzu awoke one morning and said that he had a dream that he was a butterfly....
or was he a butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang - Tzu ?



PS. The Fibonacci Series is in this painting, can you find it?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

WEEK # 33 / MOUNT MONADNOCK

Mount Monadnock
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 14" x 28", 2011


" THE MOUNTAIN THAT STANDS ALONE "

Mount Monadnock, in the Southwest corner of New Hampshire, is literally one tough rock to paint. We live here. At the turn of the Nineteenth Century, Mount Monadnock was the focal point of the Dublin Art Colony. Artists such as Abbott Thayer and Rockwell Kent painted here and Samuel Clemens ( Mark Twain) summered in Dublin, New Hampshire.
Now, it is late atumn, the maples have shed their crimson leaves leaving the magnificent oaks and beeches to show off their splendor. It is one of my favorite times of year, no bugs and clean air.

Study, Mount Monadnock
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper, 3" x 5"


I am always searching out the best view of the mountain. It is difficult for as the Abenaki name infers it stands as a solitary form, one big pyramid. One day I was driving past a small lake and saw rocks exposed against a far shore of sun drenched oaks. It must be low tide I thought, (having lived on the Maine coast, it's natural). No, they are lowing the level of the lake. My friend the author Howard Mansfield explains why in his most recent book, Turn and Jump. I drew this sketch on sight and proceeded to paint the canvas in the studio.



George Inness
The Red Oaks
oil on canvas, 36" x 54", 1894
Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Inness painted this scene when he was seventy years old. Here's to great talents ripening late! Oaks don't get this red. When his son, George Inness, Jr., was asked about this painting he said: " Was it done from nature?....no....it could not be. It was done from art."





copyright 2011 James Aponovich


Friday, November 4, 2011

WEEK #32 / The Saco River at Conway, New Hampshire

The Saco River at Conway, NH
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 18" x 24", 2011

The White Mountains of New Hampshire were the original source of inspiration for American painters during the early 19th Century. They sought a visionary Eden here in the wilderness. It was all new and unspoiled. What was new quickly grew old. When The West was opened the painters ( along with the farmers) left New Hampshire for more opulent vistas.
This view of the Saco River Valley is named after one of those painters, Frank Shapleigh. Mount Washington is dominate in the distance.


George Inness
The Lackawanna Valley
oil on canvas, 34" x 50", 1855

Inness was commissioned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to commemorate the new Roundhouse complex at Scranton, Pennsylvania. Here the instrument of progress is the locomotive and the landscape opened, trees felled and tracks laid. The West was opening.
Both Inness and myself sketched on site. The sketches were then brought to the studio where the actual painters were created.




Friday, October 28, 2011

WEEK #31/ Eggs in a Wire Basket

Eggs in a Wire Basket
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 10" x 10", 2011

The Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi once called the egg the "ideal"form. There is much truth in that statement. The absolute simplicity of the egg form demands the utmost from the artist in order to capture it's gradations of value, but also the fact that there is no visible edge. It just keeps on turning. So, not only does the artist have to deal with light, highlight, shadow, core shadow and reflective light, but also to modify the transition of edge to the surrounding value. That's a lot of technical talk that boils down to the fact that if you can paint an egg, you can paint a lot of things.


Rogier Van Der Weyden (1400-1464)
Portrait of a Lady
0il on panel, 14 " x 11"
National Gallery, Washington, DC

Here the head of the lady conforms to the shape of an inverted egg. There is an extreme refinement and subtlety of value in the articulation of the eyes, nose and mouth, all within the general shape of the face. By framing the head with a starched white headdress the artist avoids having the central values of the face absorbed into the black background. The resulting graphic contrast is amazing.


THE ACCIDENTAL STILL LIFE


Jacques-Louis David
Lictors Bringing to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons,1781
Detail of a Sewing Basket

David was active during the French Revolution and Napolean's rise to power. At that time still life painting was not "true" painting but only a training exercise. High art dealt with the human figure usually set in a classical context. Historical subject matter supported the Neo-Classical principals of the age. Here, amongst the intense and tragic drama,David finds relief in a small sewing basket. We will have to wait for the French painters culminating with Cezanne to fully liberate the still life.




Friday, October 21, 2011

WEEK #30 / Four Maple Leaves Taped To a Wall

Four Maple Leaves Taped to a Wall
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8", 2011

THE ILLUSION OF REALITY
THE REALITY OF ILLUSION

This painting is a concept study for an inset panel in a commissioned piece of furniture. It will ultimately be painted on an oval and bet set into the pediment of the White Mountain Breakfront, a collaboration with the New Hampshire Furniture Master, David Lamb. (see week #16)
The leaves have a symbolic meaning known only to the patron. I wanted these leaves to appear as real as I could so one would think that they are actually attached to the piece of furniture. I went to a style of painting that the French call Trompe-l'oeil, fool the eye.


REALISM

Realism is the rendering of textural qualities of an object according to formal Western artistic concepts, such as value modeling (chiaroscuro). An essential factor in obtaining the illusion of reality is conveying a credible sense of space. When objects are painted in this space the tactile surface of the picture disappears and the painting becomes it's own world. It becomes an illusionistic piece.


RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

There is a tacit agreement between the viewer and the painting that acknowledges that it is a fictive world. To enter this pictured world is an act of volition by the viewer and one is led by the realism of details and the construction of space to accept ( or not) the illusion of reality. To put it another way, when we attend the movies, we know it is not real but we allow ourselves to be absorbed as if it were real. We have a visual dialogue.
In Trompe l'oeil there is none of this. That is to say the main purpose of most "trompe" paintings is to immediately convince you that it is real, not a painting. If you have to feel the surface to determine that yes, it is a painting then the artist wins! It's a hoax. This is why the "trompe" style is frowned upon by critics, it is entertainment.
The problem for me comes in when I realize how difficult it is to paint in this style. I have to bring all my experience and knowledge to carry it across and still I fall short. It's really hard!




William Harnett
The Faithful Colt
oil on canvas, 22" x 28", 1890

My fascination with all this began when I was standing in front of this painting by the American painter William Harnett. I knew that painting a gun on a barn wall was kind of trite but I experienced something quite unique, my eyes felt good looking at the surface! There was a definite sense of physical joy in just observing the details.


William Harnett
Mr. Hurlings Rack Picture
oil on canvas, 30" x 25", 1888

Harnett is the acknowledged master of this form of still life. There is a shallow depth of field and an "over the top" rendering of detail. There is more. This piece has an abstraction and visual energy that predates the great art movements of the 20th Century. It is well worth a look.
Fool me once, shame on you,
Fool me twice, shame on me.





copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, October 14, 2011

WEEK # 29 / Three Pears in a Glass Bowl, The Garfagnana

Three Pears in a Glass Bowl, The Garfagnana
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 15" x 12", 2011

Last week I came across an old pencil sketch I drew many years ago during our first visit to Italy. Beth tells me it was 1994, the location was Barga, Tuscany. It would be a decade before we would return to Italy.



Study, Three Pears in a Glass Bowl
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper, 3.5" x 3", 1994

The sketch is simple, three pears, a bowl, cloth and landscape. For the painting I added a crown of leaves, elevating the composition. I have written about the difficulty of working with the primary color triad of red, yellow and blue. The secondary triad of green, orange and violet is for me is the easiest and most pleasing combination due to the fact they are admixture of the primaries. They are subdued and tend to harmonize and be non confrontational. The leaves and landscape are green, the pears orange and the cloth and sky are violet (?)


WHITE

In this weeks painting the white stands in for violet. Why?


Analysis of a white sky

Optically, white is composed of all the colors of the spectrum. Physically, to arrive at white, I first mix tints of yellow, red and blue, plus two browns ( top row).
By careful blending, and I mean careful, I mix a neutral grey. When I add white to this grey I can attain values from lightest to darkest (middle row). In the painting the sky is lightest by the horizon and has a total of six values, each progressively darker.
The bottom row illustrates the extremes of the lightest ( horizon) to the darkest ( top of sky). This system of mixing grey also means the color can be warmer (more yellow)
or cooler (more blue).


The Garfagnana

Barga, The Garfagnana, Tuscany

Away from the splendid aridness of the Crete, far from the rolling lush hills of Chianti and above the bustle of Florence and Siena sits the beautiful town of Lucca, a short drive from Pisa and the seacoast. Most tourists that visit Lucca marvel at the wonders of this walled city, dine on the famous Pollo Mattone "chicken cooked under a brick" at Giulio's, buy a bag of the ancient grain farro and then depart, going back to the more familiar safety of their Tuscany.
If you travel further, beyond Lucca, up the valley of the Serchio River, past the Devil's Bridge and up, ascending via a totally crazy winding road to the Medieval town of Barga, you will be rewarded. Barga stands at the gateway to the Garfagnana region of the towering Apennine Alps. The landscape is spectacular.
Barga was our artistic home during the first stay in Italy. It was here, while visiting the home of the National Poet, Giovanni Pascoli, at the Castlevecchio Pascoli that I drew this little sketch. Recently we were talking about Barga and waxing romantic thinking of our time there. When this project is complete, we hope to go back to the Garfagnana, so this painting is my own "painterly paean" to that wild Tuscan land.











copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Saturday, October 8, 2011

WEEK 28 / SUNRISE, LITTLE HARBOR, New Castle, NH

Sunrise, Little Harbor, New Castle, NH
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 12" x 30", 1999 -2011

Landscape painting is not as easy as it might seem. Rarely does nature just line up perfectly to give you a great "picture". Most of the time things are manipulated by the artist, mountains moved may be referred to artistic license.
I wanted to paint the sun rising over the Isles of Shoals, eight miles east of the New Hampshire coast. I was attracted by Little Harbor, enclosed by a pair of jetties. However, due to the Shoreline Protections Act, trees within seventy five feet of the shore cannot be cut down.
I had originally painted this scene with trees ringing the harbor, but just like anyone that builds a house next to the ocean, I wanted a clear "view". So, I returned and painted most of the trees out.


TIDE'S IN - TIDE'S OUT


Fitz Henry Lane
Brace's Rock
oil on canvas, 10" x 15", 1864

With the trees now gone, I needed visual drama. For inspiration I went to one of my favorite seascape painters, Fitz Henry Lane of Gloucester, Massachusetts fame. I have mentioned him before when I was painting in Blue Hill, Maine ( week #17). He painted a number of versions of Brace's Rock, off Cape Ann (Massachusetts), always with the wreck of some ship. I was interested in the dark rocks silhouetted against the calm harbor. For my painting I waited until low tide so that the rocks would be exposed and the shore line defined by seaweed. To add a human element I added a sailboat catching the first light and breeze of the morning.




copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 27 /Nasturtiums and Cherries, Sebasco, Maine

Nasturtiums and Cherries, Sebasco, Maine
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 16" x 11", 2011

This painting originated in Maine and was completed in New Hampshire. I had brought a few meager nasturtiums from our garden and hoped to complete some sort of still life once we were on the Maine coast. I had managed to paint a couple of flowers when the fog dropped, the next day the flowers were totally wilted. However I did paint the seascape in situ ( on site). I figured that the painting would have to wait until next year when when a new crop of nasturtiums would arrive. To make a long story short, when we returned home we still had loads of nasturtiums growing, so I set to work.


REPETITION OF FORM OR FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL

There are many aspects of pictorial composition, dominate verticals, horizontals,diagonals, symmetry,...etc. Fortunately one of the most enjoyable aspects is the use of a repeating element and/ or color.
This painting can be viewed as a flat 2-Dimensional surface. Divided into three layers: the upper with flowers, the middle with the vase and fruit, and the lower with the cloth.
Since the vase contains circles as part of its decoration, I repeated the circle with the round leaves of the nasturtiums. I selected cherries to continue the rhythm on the cloth and " dropped" a few down into the folds. So the circle becomes a melody that punctuates the painting in both form and color.


Still Life with Tulips and Amaryllis
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

This painting Still Life with Tulips and Amaryllis, is another example, using some of the same elements of repeating form. Here the vertical stems of the flowers create their own rhythm that works with the circular tumble below.







copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, September 23, 2011

WEEK 26 ....HALFTIME.....The Last Daylily of Summer

The Last Daylily of Summer
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2011

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall and the mid point of this year long project. For gardeners, this is a time of mixed emotions. On the one hand there is sadness at the waning garden with everything withering and turning brown.......daily remorse. On the other hand there is ( for me at least) a certain relief in that it is over, at least for another season.
It is time to concentrate, to return full time to the studio and prepare mentally and physically for the on coming winter in New England. Last week I spotted a lone surviving daylily,' Hyperion' I guess, so since I have not painted my yearly daylily painting I decided to honor it with one last study. Of course, it turns out to be the most vivid lemon yellow imaginable. As I noted before,(week # 22) yellow is the most irascible and difficult color to work with. Value wise this is a very high pitched painting for me. You see, yellow is the next step down from white and whereas a background of black will make yellow really glow, surrounding it with white will mitigate yellow's natural intensity. I chose a transparent glass to enhance this effect. I wanted to use a dark element but found it very difficult to balance. If this painting were a musical instrument, I think it would have to be a Baroque trumpet.



Two Examples of "Daylily" paintings that I have painted in past years:


Three Pots of Daylilies
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas

Daylilies come in endless variations of size, color and leaf shape. In this painting I was as excited by the foliage as I was the flowers,
so I painted the potted plants prior to planting....period.



Still Life with Daylilies and Primula
James Aponovich
oil on canvas


This is a significant still life with daylilies. I will return to it the upcoming weeks.





Copyright 2011 James Aponovich



Friday, September 16, 2011

WEEK 25 / The Pine Tree, Sebasco, Maine

The Pine Tree, Sebasco, Maine
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 8" x 13", 2011

PAINTING IN A CLOUD

Here we are on the Maine Coast again. This time we are in mid-coast, just east of Casco Bay, staying at the house of friends. The coast here is different, long fingers of land stretching down surrounded by the sea with a myriad of inlets hiding paintings yet to be done.
The hard part is not just in finding the right spot but dealing with the constantly shifting nature of tide and atmosphere. When we arrived the air was heavy with a south east breeze bearing fog. It is a stunning land of eagles and seals accompanied by a symphony of gulls. Visual space is ambiguous, determined by gradations of value, color is subdued, everything is distant. Fog envelopes you, there is no horizon, sea and sky merge.


NORTH WIND CLEARING

The wind shifts, now from the north west and you are amazed at the islands that now appear. There is more brilliant blue and deep green than you know what to do with. There is not enough time to start another new painting...........next time.


John Marin
The Pine Tree, Small Point, Maine, 1926
Watercolor on paper, 17" x 22"
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine

We are also here to find where Marin painted. Small Point is just east of here, maybe a few miles by water. In 1915 Marin's NY art dealer was the eminent photographer
Alfred Stieglitz ( Georgia O'keeffe's husband). Stieglitz forwarded him some cash so he could paint for the summer in Maine. Marin took the money, but instead bought an island in Small Point Harbor. I can't say as I blame him. There's plenty of "wicked good paintin' here".
Tomorrow we head down to Cape Arundel.





Copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, September 9, 2011

WEEK 24 / Still Life with Chocolate Truffles

Still Life with Chocolate Truffles
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 8" x 12", 2011

Last Sunday Beth and I had a group of friends over for a "Buon Viaggio" dinner party in anticipation of their upcoming trip to Italy. As gifts, Sylvia brought a bottle of truffle flavored oil and Joanie brought a box of elegant chocolate truffles. Both are called truffles yet both are very different.
The truffle oil went to the kitchen to await some fettuccini to grace. The chocolate truffles went directly to the studio because I was in need of a "model" for this week's painting. I placed seven truffles on the tissue that lined the box.
Visually these were orbs differing in color and texture, all conforming to the passage of light across them. The tissue envelopes them and adds a translucent quality when placed in front of the stripped wall. The blue ribbon adds a melodic line that accentuates the rolling roundness of
the truffles .But with the world as it is........why paint candy?



"It is a gift to be simple...."
Shaker tune

Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin
A Glass of Water and a Coffee Pot
Oil on canvas, 13" x 16", 1760
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

Many years ago I attended a major retrospective of the French artist Chardin at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I was just starting out as an artist and I was completely taken aback by his paintings, particularly the still lifes. The smaller ones were modest yet contained an extraordinary strength within a simplicity of form. I distinctly remember a small painting of a glass of water with some garlic bulbs ( A Glass of Water and a Coffee Pot). I was mesmerized with how the light traveled through the glass and across the white bulbs. Reproductions do not do it justice. It was from that point on that I knew I wanted to concentrate on the still life.




Andrew Stevovich
Woman with Pear
Oil on linen, 20" x 20", 2009-10


Andrew Stevovich and I both began our careers as artists in Boston. We met through a mutual friend and collector. We moved to galleries in New York at about the same time and have remained friends through it all.
I admire his painting ability. There is a clarity of color and a masterful use of brushwork that, in my opinion, makes him one of the best painters living today. I thought of Andrew when I needed to lighten and brighten my painting, by adding stripped wallpaper. Artist's are great borrowers, so that in my painting of truffles I am taking the passage of light from Chardin and adding the compositional clarity of Stevovich.
Now, what should I do with those remaining chocolate truffles......Hmmmmm.






For more information about Andrew Stevovich







Copyright 2011 James Aponovich







Saturday, September 3, 2011

WEEK 23 / APPLEDORE: Still Life with Peaches

Appledore: Still Life with Peaches
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 10" x 18", 2011

Sometimes paintings do not cooperate. They just don't listen, are stubborn and generally behave
badly. At this point they are sent to spend "time out" with their face against the wall, sometimes for weeks, months or even years.
This painting was started some fifteen years ago as an oil sketch of bunches of grapes, it was not working and soon was abandoned to the basement. The stretchers were ripped off and used for another painting. There it languished until I recently found it and brought it back into the studio.

We now have wild grapes growing on our property and peaches are ripe and beautiful, so I gathered some grape leaves and set out to make things right! The setting for this still life is Appledore Island, part of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Much more painting will be done on Appledore so stay tuned, it's a great story.


THE AMERICAN PAINTING


John Johnston
Still Life, 1810
Oil on panel, 14" x 18"
City Art Museum, St. Louis

I am a big fan of American painters. This country washed clean and refreshed the vision of so many artists. This still life by John Johnston is strangely modern in concept, ( or I am, not so strangely, archaic). My painting is a reinterpretation of this sweet still life.




copyright 2011 James Aponovich