Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Simple Joy of Observation

All the still lifes in this post are by Pieter Claesz (1596/97 - 1660)
I had a sort of epiphany yesterday as I was in the class room, getting messy with charcoal and working for two hours on my drawing, just sketching in the objects and blocking lights and darks. The two hours felt like five minutes and while I was working, the whole world sort of fell away.
There was no room in my mind for anything else - only looking and observing and translating that to my paper. The objects I was drawing (an old bar stool, paint cans, rope and an old car tire) ceased to be those objects and simply became shapes to draw. I never once considered how I liked them or how exciting they were, they just were and I was drawing them and getting lost in that process.
And for the first time I understood the allure of still life paintings. I had never quite gotten that, always standing in front of those paintings in museum and wondering why the artist would do something so boring. Why paint a wine glass? Or a tea pot? Or an apple?
I'm starting to understand that it's not about those objects (although many still lifes have special meanings to the painter), but more about the composition, the lighting and the overall harmony of the piece. And then it's about painting or drawing it.

All the still lifes here are by the Dutch painter Pieter Claesz. We are going to do watercolor value studies with pieces from the old masters to learn how they worked. I'll show you some of these once I do them.

For now, I don't have anything to show you yet from class, except me covered with charcoal, but unfortunately I was by myself and nobody there to take a picture...


  1. Liebe Silke,

    schön, dich hier zu erleben.

    Frohe Sonntagsgrüße
    Angela und Elisabeth

  2. Well it would have been fun to have seen you covered in charcoal - but the still life works compensate. Thanks for sharing them; I did not know of this artist and want to find out more. Ann.

  3. Hallo Silke, das nennt man sicherlich Flow:-) Es ist immer interessant von deinen Zeichen/Malabenteuern zu lesen. Ich mag Stillleben - u. a. auch, weil diese uns oft auch mit der Vergänglichkeit konfrontieren. Weiterhin viel Spaß - ich bin dabei:-) Alles Liebe Inge

  4. Those are beautiful still lifes. Your drawing process sounds like a meditation-what a great way to do it. Have a wonderful holiday week-end. Lorrie

  5. This was a lovely post! Very interesting as I have never enjoyed still lifes very much either! The only one I remember enjoying the process of was when I was in highschool and we did one where we just drew the negative space. I don't know what ever happened to it but I can still see it so clearly! I look forward to see more Silke!!

  6. Very interesting observation Silke, yes it must be like a meditation, how lucky you must feel being able to go through this process. They are beautiful pictures.

    Take care

    Sarah xxx

  7. silke, this is such a simple and such a complex observation and awareness. what you are describing is BEING PRESENT. i experience this often when i write: nothing else matters. i could write forever. i know runners and other atheletes describe what you have. what better way to live....?


  8. THanks for sharing this lovely art Silke! I so agree with you and had the same revelation. Since I have been drawing and painting I do not look at anything the same, I notice the relationships between shape and color, dark and light. It opens up a whole new world doesn't it?! :)

  9. Glad to hear you are appreciating still life paintings for their simplicity and beauty. They really do open your eyes to a new way of seeing the nuances and preciousness of everyday objects and life. :)

  10. Ich bin sehr auf Deine Interpretation gespannt! Hoffentlich kannst Du uns bald etwas zeigen!

  11. Whatever you are creating-- is sure to be fabulous! Good luck in your new class Silke-- show s soon what you have created!! Happy Holiday to you!!