Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Japanese quince final

This is the finished pastel of Chaenomeles japonica. I added the reflections, which were absolutely necessary to ground the painting (compare the most recent unfinished stage); some highlights; some detail on the vase; and I darkened the shadow side of the vase where it fades into the dark.
I also scumbled some Roché blue into the top left and right of the background to emphasise the complements.
I wondered about calling this piece Crouching Tiger?
Chaenomeles japonica” © Niall O’Neill 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Japanese Quince

Last spring I collected a spring of Chaenomeles japonica (Japanese Quince) from a local hedgerow with the intention of painting it. I set it up in a simple Chinese bowl on a black glass table, and lit it from the left side.
My first picture is the base drawing in a few basic colours that focus on value over hue.
The support is grey Pastelmat. In the next image I have scumbled in some more even colour on the pot and started on the flowers with a range of orange reds, mostly Sennelier, but with a Schminke or two and a red Roché in there as well.
There follows more definition on the pot - Schminke again; I am working from top to bottom and from left to right.

Now the pot detail is nearing completion and I have started to work on the leaves - pastels here are Rembrandt and Sennelier. I have started to scumble in the background with dark blue Sennelier, which will nicely complement the oranges in the flowers and the pot too.
Here the painting is nearing completion, with the flowers, leaves, stems and background nearly finished. The top half of the background is now dark blue and dark green (Sennelier); the bottom half is a mix of dark grey and black shades.
All that is left is to add the reflections on the table to place the set-up in space, and to add a few corrections and highlights. I will put the finished piece in the next post. Very soon...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Evolution of an idea

This is a post about how a relatively simple idea evolved into a more finished piece.
Having painted a number of still life pastels featuring brass objects, I was looking for something made of copper when I came upon an old army bugle in a brocante in France. It is not in fact French, but bears the badge of the Argyll and Sutherland regiment.
I intended to paint it on its own, with perhaps a tasselled cord wrapped around it like it might originally have worn. But I didn't have one, so I put it in a wooden box (a wine case), put an antique brass candlestick beside it, stuck in a candle, and hung an old watch from the bugle. I was going to call the piece Reveille. The image shows the main features roughed in. Around the time I was painting this Poppy Day happened, so I bought one and painted it in to add a note of colour in an otherwise ochre work.

The addition of the poppy got me thinking about the First World War, since its centenary is this year. The time on the watch is barely legible, but it might be 5.30; and the painting has progressed, apart from the base of the candleholder. (The colour of the background has not changed, it is a result of the lighting conditions when I took the photo).

I developed this idea further, and extinguished the candle, leaving a little smoke behind. This could be read simply as the candle having been blown out by the bugler as he rose to blow reveille.

I finished the piece like this; got it framed; but asked the framer not to seal the frame as I was not satisfied - something was lacking. I eventually decided that the candle and the box were too discrete, and thought I might link them. World War I was still in my head, and I began to think that the candle was a symbol for the lights going out all over Europe; and the wooden box could be read as a more sombre receptacle. A book seemed right as a link, both because of its shape and size - it would fit the space; and because the title of the work could assume the title of the book. Erich Maria Remarque's classic title won out over Edmund Blunden's Overtones of War; or Robert Grave's Goodbye to All That. I used an old book spine in my library, but searched online for an illustration of an old copy of All Quiet on the Western Front. Putnam's edition suited perfectly; although I altered the binding to fit the colour scheme of the painting, I used the font on the cover to maintain the historical verisimilitude. This is the result. 
“All Quiet…” © Niall O’Neill

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Onion Soup - Final

This is the completed painting of Onion Soup, finished in 31st December 2013! The reflections have been added, some details tweaked and a few more highlights added - the only white pastel used in the painting. (The reflections are a result of my use of black glass as a work table for my still life set-ups.)
The finished work measures 16 x 12 ins or 40 x 30 cm and is painted on Clairefontaine's excellent Pastelmat.

Onion Soup” © Niall O’Neill