Friday, May 27, 2011


Panicale: Still Life with Apricots and Cherries
James Aponovich
oil on paper, 9.5" x 12", 2011

Each year Beth and I go to Italy. We go to Italy to work, draw and study the amazingly rich trove of paintings, sculptures and architecture that abound there. That being said, we also do not ignore the wonderful food, wine and people that make our time in Italy so wonderful.
I am a painter by trade, but I find it difficult to transport all the "stuff" it takes to execute an oil painting there. Flight restrictions, transportation and "wet paint" make it a chore, so I draw , or more precisely I sketch.

Sketchbook pages from Italy
James Aponovich

In April of 2010, prior to our annual trip to Umbria, my good friend Bob, himself a noted artist, gave us a beautiful travel set of watercolors to use on site. We purchased a couple of blocks of watercolor paper and set off to Italy.
While in our favorite town of Panicale, I purchased some fruit from the local greengrocer.
I placed the apricots and cherries on a plate and began to make a mess of it with watercolor, a most difficult medium.
Recently Beth found it in the studio, dusted it off and suggested that I finish it. for this project. No more watercolor for me, I instead sized the paper and painted over it with oils.

A Dish with Cherries and Carnations
Giovanna Garzoni, 1600-1670
Tempera on paper
Palazzo Pitti, Florence

One of my most admired still life painters is Giovanna Garzoni, who was a miniaturist of considerable renown in Rome, Florence and Milan. It was not easy for a woman to break into the trade union of painters. She painted with such clarity and simplicity.

Copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, May 20, 2011


James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 18" x 12", 2011

This is a study for a larger overall painting, Chinese Take-out. Most of the time I don't bother doing individual paintings of the larger concept, however,in this case I am dealing with three separate groups of objects; fortune cookies, take-out box and bowl of orange slices. They can all be separate paintings, but can they work together in one painting? Can the sum of the parts be greater than the parts? We will see.

James Aponovich
Graphite on paper, 3.25" x 4.75", 2011

In this sketchbook study the box is drawn directly from life.
The box is drawn in the "correct"
shape (how it looks), but in the painting I have elongated it, making it a bit more elegant perhaps. I never aim to merely copy what I see, rather to have it become a starting point towards a more idealized form. This is what is often referred to as "artistic license", a much overused term.

Linear Compositional Study: CHINESE TAKE-OUT
James Aponovich
Graphite on paper, 5" x 8", 2011

In this drawing I have further developed the composition from an earlier sketch ( see week 6).
This is the classic Golden Section rectangle. It is based on a ratio that remains constant and is infinite.
The famous Fibonacci Series (2,3,5,8,13,21...etc) is based on it. It is the ratio of growth in nature and the most harmonious rectangle...I have always found it to be a little long though.

Max Weber, 1915
oil on canvas, 40" x 48"
Whitney Museum of American Art

Max Weber's vision of a Chinese restaurant was influenced by the Cubism of Picasso and Braque who were painting in Paris at the time. By far, Cubism was the most profound art movement of the last century. What Einstein was doing in physics, Picasso was doing in painting.

Stove Top Lunch

I should note that I made the noodle dish. The take-out from Lucky Panda did not quite make it! So, this became lunch for Beth and me... after I painted it.

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, May 13, 2011

WEEK #7 / BOXED FRUIT SERIES: Bowl with Fruit with Flame Orange Tissue

Boxed Fruit Series: Bowl of Fruit with Flame Orange Tissue
James Aponovich
14' x 15", oil on canvas, 2011


Of all the formats, a square canvas is the most difficult to compose. Since a circle fits quite nicely within a square there is a tendency to have everything revolve around and focus on the center. In other words it becomes static.

Buddhist Mandala

Here the center is meant to dominate. Everything radiates out from it and condenses back into the center. It is a sacred guide to deep meditation.

My composition is not a square but it is based on a circle. The rectangle is created by six key points on the circle. It's a bit complicated but the rectangle is divided into two central squares and four flanking 'Golden Section' rectangles. It is serious business and is referred to as
The Painter's Secret Geometry. The center of the clementine sits on the center of the rectangle.


Mathias Grunewald (1475-1528)
Resurrection and Transfiguration of Jesus,
from the Isenheim Altarpiece

Grunewald was the original German Expressionist. He did not hold anything back. By the way, the composition is comprised of a square below (soldiers,rocks,etc) and a Golden Section rectangle above. Powerful stuff.
Color is used for full impact. Out of the terrestrial palette of earth tones, Jesus rises with the twisting fabric changing from cool whites into violet and crimson. A flame orange nimbus radiates celestial yellow all set against a ink black sky.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Study: Chinese Fortune Cookies
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 4" x 6", 2011
painting # 6

"In order to gain what you cannot loose
You must give up what you can loose."

from a Chinese fortune cookie


Chinese Take-out: The Preliminary Studies

Study for Chinese Take-out
James Aponovich
Graphite on paper, 2" x 3", c. mid 1980's

Some ideas and aspirations never die. This tiny sketch is about twenty five years old, but I continue to be intrigued with the concept. It's not what you paint, but rather how you paint it. Almost everything I paint has had various studies done beforehand.

LInear concept study: Chinese Take-out
James Aponovich
Graphite on paper, 7" x 10", 2011

This sketch shows the central take-out box filled with shrimp, peas, noodles and two chopsticks. On the left is a bowl with orange slices and on the right are fortune cookies spilling out of a box. This rectangle is irregular, known as a 'root two rectangle'. I am considering moving the bowl of oranges further to the left and elongating the rectangle.

Painting # 6 ( as shown at the top)
Chinese Fortune Cookies
J. Aponovich

Who knew that painting cellophane would be so difficult to paint!
I plan to paint (as studies) the three themes: Bowl of Oranges, Take-out Box, and the completed painting for this week, Fortune Cookies.


Answer to last weeks puzzler : H20...water

Water is uniting theme in the objects in painting # 5 :
(Look back and find these clues.)
NE...........North By East, by Rockwell Kent
Chinese ideogram is Taoist and the quote is from the Tao Teh Ching (chapter 8)
Pattern on cloth represents clouds and rain.

Are there any winners?

Copyright James Aponovich 2011