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


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


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


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? 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.