Another Start

FuitfulDark: Invented Still Life - First Stage (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)
Invented Still Life – First Stage (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)

Still practising starts. This morning before work I did the above start from a thumbnail of an invented still life I did a night or two ago (below). 


To me this is a very promising image containing the sense of mystery, melancholy and play of light and shadow that I like to see in art. There are a few errors I can see, like the shelf dropping off to the right. But it is a good start, and maybe one day soon I will have the guts to finish it!

Hawthorne said:

Don’t paint thinly as a student – later you will, but there will be something lacking unless you first learn to paint with more pigment. Paint with freedom, it gives you more mastery of the nature of paint. Make a lot of starts; wait till later to try to finish things. Do three of four of these studies every day, and leave the picture making to those who call themselves artists. (from: Hawthorne on Painting). [italics mine]

I am starting to enjoy being a complete novice at painting in oil. First steps are important. So important, in fact, that Cavafy wrote a poem about it:

The First Step
The young poem Eumenes
complained one day to Theocritus:
“I have been writing for two years now
and I have done only one idyll.
It is my only finished work.
Alas, it is steep, I see it,
The stairway of Poetry is so steep:
and from the first step where now I stand,
poor me, I shall never ascend.”
“These words,” Theocritus said,
“are unbecoming and blasphemous.
And if you are on the first step,
you ought to be proud and pleased.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory.
For even this first step
is far distant from the common herd.
To set your foot upon this step
you must rightfully be a citizen
of the city of ideas.
And in that city it is hard
and rare to be naturalized.
In her market place you find Lawmakers
whom no adventurer can dupe.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory.”
C.P. Cavafy, trans. Rae Dalven, in The Complete Poems of Cavafy 

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me with likes and positive comments. A special thanks to those who follow my blog. I hope you are happy and content.

6 thoughts on “Another Start

  1. The values are really pleasing to my eye in the oil sketch. Sometimes I wonder about becoming too tight if I work an idea or composition for too long but you’ve deepened or expanded the energy with the painted sketch and now I see you have the opportunity to catch anything that isn’t working for you and forming more of a relationship with the image. I’m enjoying this series of sketches! Much appreciated. As I said earlier…vicarious thrills and encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your kind comment Jana. I have to say I really learn a lot from these “starts” and now am trying to do one as often as I can before I leave for work. I will post one or two more soon. I know exactly what you mean about tightening up when brooding on a composition too long – analysis paralysis!


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