Daily Painting Challenge, January 2015, Day 21

January 22, 2015














oil on canvas panel, 6×6″

I am re-visiting seashells today and wanted a composition which would easily “read” as a seashell. This miniature “conch” (a mere 2.5 inches long) brought to mind the shell painting in Arthur Stern’s book so I adopted the blue wall in back on a yellow floor. It’s chipped in several places; but Gauguin, who I’m reading today, says that Nature is over-rated and working from imagination is more authentic. “Art is abstraction”, he says. The cloisonné approach to colour – stained glass was something many were aiming for at that time – has a close fit with the jewel-like aesthetic of Arthur Stern.

Today’s learning component involved underpainting in acrylic, in the complementary opposite. The dark blue was painted over orange; the yellow over a purple (more a Prussian Blue than a proper spectrum violet). I worked outdoors, in shade, but it was so hot, the acrylic dried almost as soon as it was mixed on the palette. I applied the acrylic with a palette knife and the overall effect was immediately graphic and illustrationist, compared to the much more “variable” oil paint.

I am deliberately making the back walls as “flat” as possible, to increase aerial perspective, with a minimum of impasto, texture and strong difference between colour spots.

I am reading the Chipp anthology including letters written by Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin on their practice, in particular their approach to working from Nature and tacking colour. Their words (and the work of painters like Adolphe Monticelli) are convincing me I’ m personally not taking a wrong turn. The French for “taking a wrong turn” is “le mauvais virage”or “le mauvais sens”, where “mauvais” usually means “bad”. A “bad” direction sums up exactly how I’ve been feeling lately about Fast Painting.












I know of some artists who spend hours on getting the right composition. I took this to heart today, in a very limited fashion, by taking a dozen photos of the seashell in various positions. What the photos highlight is the blue tones in the shell, foreground blue well away from the back wall.

I’m acutely aware that on my return to Art School classes this time next month, I’ll be returning to Slow Painting: much more considered composition, preparatory drawings, lost and found brush strokes.

Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, January 2015, organised by Leslie Saeta (http://lesliesaeta.blogspot.com.au).


Chipp, Herschel B. Theories of Modern Art: a source book by artists and critics. Univ.Calif.Pr., 1968.

Stern, Arthur. How to see color and paint it: a series of projects designed to open your eyes to colors you never saw before. New York, Watson-Guptill, 1984.


One Response to “Daily Painting Challenge, January 2015, Day 21”

  1. Look at what you are doing! So good…so good!

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