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.


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


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.


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 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.


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