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Kelly Borsheim's Original Still Life Oil Painting

[still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

Hélène's Vase

65 x 40 cm (will be cut down from 70 x 50 cm)
Original Oil Painting on wood panel
© 2014
Kelly Borsheim

$2,400 available

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[still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds] [still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

"Hélène's Vase"
Original Still Life Oil Painting

My painter friend Hélène Delmaire of Lille, France, painted this same vase about half a decade before I have. She gave it to me when she left Florence, Italy, and I knew that I would someday paint it!

I began by finding a textured background. There are many antique markets and shoppes in and around Florence and I have been keeping an eye out for a long time for interesting things. In a end, another friend gave me a tip on a store that sells outdoor "siding" for homes in Italy. One evening, I walked into the store and told the man what I was looking for, "a bas-relief with high texture and a mid-to-dark color" and motioned the approximated dimensions. He put his hands up as if to say, "Stop, lady!" and responded that they are only a small shop. But their display column of stone samples was right in front of me and I just pointed to it and said, "Perfetto! Do you have one of these that I can buy?"

Good luck was with me and he was delighted to have solved a problem for both of us. He showed me a display board that had some stones missing and he wanted to get rid of it. So, one day in the studio, I took some clay and slapped some thick bricks onto the surface of my new background, making blocks with similar texture, but reverse patterns. It seems easier than sculpting. I never bothered to fire the clay, just painted it with acrylic paint once the clay was fairly dry. And I propped them up against my background during the still-life setup since I doubted any glue that I had would work.

[still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

[sight size method drawing still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

Original Sight Size Method of Drawing or Painting

You may see here how I have aligned my easel and canvas along with my still-life arrangement. You may also see how I have created shadows using garbage bags strategically hung under the light source in the studio.

I then group objects into shapes families, based on their colors or tones. I leave details, such as the thin reeds, out of the composition for the moment. I want to establish the basic relationships on my panel. Sometimes something that looks ok in reality does not make for a good painting (and vice versa).

[sight size method drawing still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

Original Sight Size Method of Drawing or Painting

It was "International Women's Day" when I took this snapshot, hence the mimosa stem of yellow puffball flowers left on my easel by a friend. You may notice that my easel position has moved. That is because I am not as fussed as some artists about the Sight-Size Method. Once I have decided upon the shapes and relative relationships, I move the easel wherever it suits me. Generally this move has to do with the physical issues of painting. I do not like to hunch over or squat for long to paint. I prefer my spine to be straight.

You may also note that my perishable models have changed! My original models had long lost their juicy appeal by the time I was ready to paint the fruit to completion. So, I replaced them and discovered just how imdividual grapes are. It is especially impossible to get a cluster of them to lay in the same way as another, much less have the same shapes and similar coloring! And I had to go to several markets before I found a purple plum: the stores only had the yellow and red varieties later in the year. Thank goodness that the Mercato Ambrogio in Firenze actually had plums from Chile... a shocker, but hey, they were deep purple.

[sight size method drawing still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

Composition Painting

Originally, I had intended to make this a tall and narrow composition. However, I lost myself in painting the end of the reed that I threaded back into the handle of the vase and let swiggle down to the marble base. Above, you see the start of the design. Below, the finished work... the shadow really makes such a difference!

[sight size method drawing still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

Original Sight Size Method of Drawing or Painting

And finally, here is a shot of the painting on the original 70 x 50 cm wooden panel. As I write, I am waiting for the paint to be thoroughly dry before I cut the wood down to crop the painting. I found this one very difficult to photograph since the darker tones have so many subtleties in them. This was a really joy and challenge to paint and I am very happy with the results. I hope you enjoy this one, too.
Thank you for your interest!
~ Kelly Borsheim

[sight size method drawing still life oil painting, natura morta, grapes, plum, blackberries, fruit with vase and reeds]

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Most recent revision: 29 July 2014