Springtime Still Life Paintings~ A Gardener’s Medley

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Process, Still Life Painting
Greenhouse Medley, Still Life Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf

A Gardener’s Medley by Melody Phaneuf, 24 x 18 oil


The Backstory

As a visual artist, I appreciate looking at things, particularly old, used, abandoned things. I collect objects that I can’t resist for paintings. And I compile useful accompaniments for the irresistible painting objects I’ve acquired. This is a peculiar activity for a person who hates clutter. Nonetheless, my fascination in chronicling visual experiences and enthusiasm for storytelling compels me.

I rescued this stained glass window several years ago from someone’s discarded rubbish. It possesses two of the elements I love most, colored glass and peeling paint. There is also a pleasing patina on the hinges. The paint color reminded me of robin’s eggs and following that thought, spring, gardens, rebirth. This was the initial spark for Greenhouse Medley.

Nuts and Bolts

Putting together a still life painting is an exercise in trial and error. Objects are arranged then judged for their role in the design and expression of idea. More often than not, items are too tall, the wrong color, or too visually demanding in themselves. This disrupts the integrity of the whole.  In Greenhouse Medley, both the watering can and the carved shelf wanted to be the center of attention. The window worked beautifully to subordinate them. The obscured parts of the forms visible through the water glass provided another aspect of interest for the eye. The translucency also opened a portal for eye movement through the picture space.

The window itself  had several placements during the arranging process. When located in the foreground it became too dominant. As a backdrop it was too diminished. The middle ground seemed just right to subtilely display it’s character. Here it supports the composition as a whole. The simple objects in the foreground become more important because of their position but don’t overwhelm the window. The various points of interest create engaging pathways through the painting.

The Essence of the Painting

I intended for the light, bright color in this painting to convey a sparkling freshness. The garden-related elements suggest working outdoors, maybe for the first time since winter’s dormancy. The forsythia branch signifies spring. Its reach upward and outward is a welcoming gesture of expansion. It seems to embrace renewal. When I look at Greenhouse Medley, I feel the buoyancy of springtime and of new beginnings.

Think Spring~


The Pleiades 

The Rite of Spring