Tag Archives: still life paintings

Disappearing palaces, tempestuous landscapes and lemon squeezers

image showing three books

two Christopher Lehmpfuhl painting catalogues and a book about Emil Nolde’s watercolour landscapes

It might be cold outside but there has been a simmering of wild colours and stormy brushstrokes within. More late birthday gifts arrived in the form of two new catalogues of Christopher Lehmpfuhl’s bold and dazzling work and a small but sumptuous book filled with Emil Nolde watercolour landscapes. Both German painters, but separated by time.

image showing colourful watercolour

wild watercolour number 1, 10 inches square on Arches paper

The Nolde book is very inspiring and propelled me towards my watercolour tubes and pans, resulting in some enthusiastic and richly-hued daubs. I still can’t work out how Nolde achieved such dense, strong colour. Maybe it was the particular shades he chose to work with and maybe he created numerous layers. The more ‘stainy’ colours I used held up relatively well but the others did what watercolours often do – looked vivid while wet but faded to a whitish glow on drying.

watercolour, 10x10 inches on Arches paper

watercolour attempt number 2, 10 inches square on Arches paper

I have done some more work on the Crosdale large painting and, while I’m pleased with the colours, it’s still not quite there yet.

oil painting of Crosdale, work in progress

large Crosdale painting, work progressing slowly, oil on canvas

At the opposite end of the brightness scale, my odd dark painting is still progressing towards its rather spooky finished state.

A2 oil painting on canvas, Whitewell painting

seems it’s always dark near Whitewell, work in progress, oil on canvas, A2

Lehmpfuhl catalogue showing still life paintings and window views

the joy of small scenes in the Lehmpfuhl catalogue

One of my Christopher Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of intimate still lifes: views through windows and portraits of tables loaded with glasses, crockery and other small items. It gave me an idea to have a go at capturing a ‘family’ of glassware grouped on a table top.

6x8 inches still life of glassware, oil on canvas

still life glassware family group, two tumblers and a lemon squeezer, 6×8 inches, oil on canvas

As the evenings have been getting longer I also managed to paint a very quick view out of the kitchen window as the light was beginning to fade. It was a real rush to get it done, especially as a stray dog appeared wandering through the gardens below while I painted, leading me to break off and check that it had not been abandoned, but it could lead to further paintings as I enjoy the odd shapes of the hills and the trees and their associated shadows.

oil painting on canvas, 9×12 inches, window view

extreme painting, through the window in record time, oil on canvas, 9×12 inches

Christopher Lehmpfuhl catalogue: Die Neue Mitte

Die Neue Mitte exhibition catalogue, brimming with energetic paintings

The larger of the two Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of thrilling, swirling, huge plein air paintings from an exhibition called ‘Die Neue Mitte’. The series of paintings was created to document the controversial, politically-motivated demolition of an East German landmark building in Berlin, the Palast der Republik, which was open to the public as well as being the home of the DDR parliament and the people’s chamber, or Volkskammer.

It was a place where cultural events took place, with a theatre and art galleries as well as a disco, restaurants and even a post office. As the Palast was gradually torn down Lehmpfuhl kept finding new angles to paint it from and the whole extraordinary process was documented in a film which can be found halfway down this page, entitled ‘Die Neue Mitte’.

I saw the Palast der Republik on my first visit to Berlin in 2001 and it had a real 70s look to it, with its bronze mirrored exterior reminding me of glittery disco interiors and dark smoked coffee tables made of glass. Another short film, about the opening of the Palast in 1976, can be found here.

Season of fruit and mellow coffee pots – and terrifying heads

The weather has continued wet and gloomy here in the fells, so the still life campaign has carried on relentlessly, with many pieces of fruit called upon to perform in front of a loaded brush. The apples and bananas did particularly well, remaining absolutely still and full of mellow character while I seized their portraits for posterity (before they met their dreadful fate).

oil painting of fruit in mellow colours

mellow autumn colours, fruit in a handmade bowl, oil on canvas, 6″x8″

oil painting of fruit in diagonal arrangement

fruit arranged diagonally, oil on canvas, 6″x8″

Maybe it was the result of staring at fruit for too long but suddenly the coffee pot seemed to be glowing with colours as well and it, too, had to stand patiently while I attempted to capture a likeness.

oil painting of foreshortened coffee pot

coffee pot, foreshortened, oil on canvas, 6″x8″

After treating the fruit so harshly I thought it was only fair to do the same with myself, so I attempted to scrutinise the shape of my head. This is a difficult task, especially when it hasn’t been attempted for a while. I can’t work out why but being able to draw something in pencil does not seem to make it any easier to subsequently construct using paint, although I’m sure that once I found making drawn studies was a useful part of the painting process. Maybe it will come back.

Perhaps it’s fitting that it’s Halloween because the intense stare required to paint your own head can result in quite a terrifying image.

oil painting, staring portrait, 9"x12"

an intense stare, oil on canvas, 9″x12″

Then there are the self-portraits that really look very convincingly like someone, even though it isn’t you.

oil painting, self-portrait, 9"x12"

self-portrait with odd expression, oil on canvas, 9″x12″

I had hoped to write a bit about the George Rowlett catalogues I ordered recently but, as they have not arrived, it will have to wait for another post. So, this is a bit of a shorter one than usual (which is supposed to be a good thing because the internet, apparently, devours your attention span, leaving you capable of reading only around 250 words or so before lapsing into a coma or excitedly performing a jig).