The Essence of Painting Still Life~ Voyagers

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Still Life Painting
Oil painting of glass floats and shells by Melody Phaneuf

Voyagers, Still Life Painting by Melody Phaneuf, 17 x 22 Oil


What are the Essentials of Still Life Painting?

Color, shape, texture, line, rhythm. These are some of the abstract qualities of a painting, the structure of a picture. Then there is the consideration of light and dark, the key to suggesting a mood. Will it be dreamy? Dramatic? Distinguished? Of course there are the objects themselves, each with an essence, a personality. Selecting and combining these ingredients are the essentials of still life painting.

Why do I paint Still Life Paintings?

I appreciate the potential of still life painting to tell a story or convey a mood. I think of still life objects as vessels of experience. I’ve developed an extensive collection through the years, chosen because of a particular quality in them that I recognize. They become characters which I weave together to express an idea.

I’m fond of the objects in Voyagers—shells, floats, a castaway bottle—all treasures found exhaled by the sea. I’m enchanted by the glimmering and crusty seashells, former vehicles of underwater creatures. Patinaed glass, floats etched by the ocean’s rhythm and moods, suggest time and fortitude. I wonder about these seafarers, and imagine their journey, while I paint the light that ennobles them.

I  love to paint glass. Following the movement of light within a transparent vessel is a kind of meditation. Light bounces from glass, but then penetrates the surface at a certain angle. Once inside, it ricochets back and forth, casting reflections on inner surfaces. It is an endless journey of cause and effect that slowly diminishes, and ultimately evaporates from vision. The movement  is not unlike that of ocean waves, and dovetails nicely with the theme of the painting.

What is the Message in Voyagers?

As companions, the glass objects and sea shells in Voyagers seem content together, salty and sympatico. They have traveled analogous paths, linking them as ocean soul mates. They are aged, marked by experience and symbolic of a life at sea. And so, having taken leave of their adventures, they find themselves together in pleasant surroundings, perhaps upon a captain’s mantel, where they can be admired for their magnificent beauty.


You might also enjoy~

Still Lifes at the Rijksmuseum

Still Lifes of Robert Douglas Hunter, Boston School