Ever since I went hunting the wild beasts of the art world and found myself in the jungle of Fauvism, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a Fauve-inspired painting. Not as any serious attempt to create an artwork, but as a bit of experiential play, one of those learn-by-doing exercises that I enjoy.
It’s a very gloomy day here in Harrisonville. When my husband left for work this morning, it was pouring rain. Temperatures were hovering right at the freezing mark. Not fit weather for anyone to be out in, as far as I’m concerned. My husband made it safely to work, and hopefully he’ll be able to return home this afternoon without problems.
The rain has now turned to ice, and I can hear it pelting against the windows. I stepped out to the porch earlier, and I quickly hurried back inside again. A cold, wet, miserable day with snow on the way.
What better time to head to my easel and break out lots of colors? Even though painting with bright colors has never been my style, it seemed like a fun thing to do this morning.
So, as I turned to the next painting exercise in the Arnold Fletcher oil-painting book I’m reading, I was greeted by a still life, an arrangement of shapes, an opportunity to work on overlapping objects, plus a chance to demonstrate the principle of balance, Fletcher mentions negative space, as well, but the main idea for this practice piece is the proper — i.e., interesting — arrangement of the five shapes.
I rubbed my hands together in a bit of savage glee. I would not only arrange these items on my newsprint drawing pad. I would not just paint them as a traditional still life. Oh, no. I would play with colors in the manner of the Fauves, paying homage to Matisse and Derain.
Please understand that this isn’t meant to be good art. It’s a practice piece done with cheap water-based poster paints on a large sheet of newsprint. In Fletcher’s instructions, no attempt was to be made to create “forms” from these shapes. That will come later, he assures readers of his book.
Could I please use lots of colors? I asked the question in my head and got a resounding “Yes” in response. I could do whatever I pleased, so look out Matisse, here I come!
You know what? I like it. In some perverse, unexpected way, it actually appeals to me. Yes, the paper is badly-wrinkled. Sure, the colors are a bit weaker than a Fauve painting would be, and I’ll agree that some of my shapes are wonky. Especially that wine bottle.
I did have a few problems. I made mistakes with the green dinner plate and how it rested on the table. Getting that wonky-looking wine bottle partially hidden behind the pitcher also caused me a bit of trouble. Oh, well. It was a learning experience, and I had fun with it.
Overall, I think the balance is good, and here’s something else I like about the painting. I think it’s an excellent reflection of my morning, and that’s what has always meant the most to me regarding art. I like art that puts me in a quiet, reflective mood. I like art that gives me a chance to breathe deeply and ponder the world around me.
And this painting does that…how? Well, let me explain.
As I was painting, I was thinking a bit about rhythm, thinking, too, about the music I so often hear when I study different artworks. What did I hear from my own painting? I heard something steady, something that put me in a “cozy kitchen” mood. Of course, the subject contributed to my thoughts, I’m sure, but looking at the painting made me think of grabbing a cup of herbal tea, curling up with an afghan, and reading a good book.
Here’s what I was hearing in my head:
Yes, pitter-patter, icy rain is falling against the window panes, but I’m snug and warm inside, enjoying a quiet morning. How perfectly this painting expresses all those thoughts to me.
Your thoughts about the painting may be much different, and maybe you hear nothing at all when you look at my simple Fauve-inspired still life. That’s all right. Art is a personal experience, and that’s how it should be.
Now, I’m off to enjoy my tea, grab that afghan, and curl up in the easy chair. I’m currently reading The Plague by Camus. My little painting practice this morning has certainly put me in a thoughtful mood. Despite the icy rain and the cold weather, it’s turning out to be a most enjoyable morning.