Still Life

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Con luz de bodega..."

...which translates into "with the light of a cellar"-- hence the term "bodegón" in Spanish which is the more colloquial way of saying "still life" ("naturaleza muerta"). Apparently, most if not all still lifes painted when the term "bodegón" was coined featured this somber light mostly found in cellars  which shed on the inanimate objects that characteristic play of chiaroscuro which we have all learned to associate with this genre. This is still the lighting I prefer, personally, whether it be natural (in which case one is limited to working on the subject at only certain times of the day) or artificial (in which case the whole set up is more controlled and the artist has more freedom to work when they please).

I have recently finished two of these "bodegones" done in this type of light. In both cases I have chosen natural light controlled by adjusting the blinds in the studio and so I only had two and a half hours or so to work on them each session. Both are oil on panel -- I had a surplus of particle board available which I had to prime with more layers of primer than usual as well as being careful to seal the edges.

This is the first one. I started out with a more-careful-than-usual drawing...I don´t usually finish my preliminary drawings to this extent--I was just having too much fun with it. In fact, people were telling me to leave it as a drawing and not go further.

I went on anyway and finished it. I wanted it to be of a more permanent medium than charcoal since it is something of a testimony to the tools of our trade.

...and this was what my set up looked like...

The second one is very similar but smaller in size and simpler in the sense that it contains less elements. I like this little jug a lot. Very common ceramic object over here and another piece that is just quite autonomous and has a lot to say if you let it.

...and my set up. The same "shelf", same light source, same time of day as the other painting. Wonderful thing about still life set ups: they can be manipulated exactly the way you want, they don´t need rest periods, they never complain about your choice of music and, best of all, they don´t have an opinion on the finished painting!

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