View Full Version : Pewter Candle Holder with Japanese Basket - WIP

11-24-2009, 07:26 AM
So, my last pastel still life study with a candle got me fired to try another and I found one piece of black Colorfix. I had started something on it previously and just washed it back - that's why there are some outlines on this - ignore.

The last study was done with linear - eye level perspective, fairly easy and straight forward. This set up is a little more challenging - looking down at the objects. I thought that was the best way to see their interesting shapes - especially my focal point that cute little pewter candle holder with hinged lid. I'll try to reserve the sharpest detail for it.

Here's where I am after a quick start last night. Probably won't get back to it again until tomorrow evening. So, any suggestions will be helpful as it's early stages of development. I'm just blocking in sections of color presently. The objects in background will be darker in value eventually and probably have quite soft edges.

Do you think the shapes work together here?


Donna T
11-24-2009, 08:32 AM
You do many more still lifes than I do Celeste so I hope you don't mind a few questions. Do you try to position your objects so that none are equally distant from the edge? Does that even matter? Does something like your candle holder have to connect with the other things - maybe by just a shadow - or can it exist on its own? I get stumped before I ever begin because I don't know how to relate things to each other. Thanks for any help and I think you're off to a great start here.

11-24-2009, 10:20 AM
Hi Celeste...I think your shapes are lovely and do work well together, but I also agree with Donna's question...I'm wondering how they are going to relate to one another? Thru a shadow or light maybe?

Your colors are wonderful...and I'm watching with interest to see where you take this. Paint on!

11-24-2009, 01:46 PM
Donna, I never mind questions - not that I always can answer though! I start most of my comps using the "Rule of Thirds" layout - I knew the flame would be the focal point - position that on the support in about that area and then arrange the supporting elements from there. Typically I try to fill the support pretty well - in this case, it might be a tad cramped.

It's easier when working with eye-level, linear perspective to relate objects than in this case. One possibility that I've considered and may yet add is laying some of the Nandina leaves on the base to connect the two parts of the scene. If I find that too busy, I may position the above leaves so that they "aim" down more towards the candle.

Really, no matter the subject, still life or landscape, the idea is to direct the eye around the painting, isn't it? You can do that in all sorts of ways. I think it's helpful to do a preliminary grey scale thumbnail and simplify things into dark and light shapes and see how their position relates to one another.

In this case, I tried all sorts of objects with the little pewter candle. I ended up choosing the little blue & white porcelain Japanese basket because I felt it's shape mimicked that of the pewter piece with its square sides and cut off corners. So I'm trying to use repetition to create a sort of rhythm.

And then of course the addition of the Clementine ... because I love them, it's a complimentary color, it adds some softness with its round shape and it adds life being fruit.

So...that is my plan - let's see if I can carry it out successfully!

Merethe T
11-24-2009, 06:07 PM
I'm watching....curious to see where you take this. :)
Interesting shapes and nice start, I like the colors too.

Donna T
11-24-2009, 07:23 PM
Thanks so much, Celeste! I totally forgot to consider the repetition and rhythm thing but can see how they are working here.

11-25-2009, 11:14 AM
Thank you Merethe and Donna - I hope to pull this one off effectively.

11-25-2009, 05:43 PM
So I got to work a short time this afternoon and will hopefully come back for more tonight. Here's where I am. I realize I've got sort of a yen/yang thing going on here and as it develops I'll have to soften some areas to keep a focal point in clear view.


11-25-2009, 05:53 PM
It's looking fab Celeste...you handled the "connections" brilliantly..

11-25-2009, 06:46 PM
Looking good Celeste! I'm also drawn to all the Asian decorative ware - they make for lovely still lifes. I like the shapes you've got going there. Look forward to seeing the final result!

11-25-2009, 10:10 PM
Very nice, Celeste!
Something about that orange ball....it is just superb with all its quick, rough and scratchy linework and glowing brilliance and lost edges.

11-25-2009, 11:17 PM
Here's where I am tonight. I realized that the lid to the little pewter candle holder was too small, so I enlarged it a little.

I think I'm going to call this done ... unless someone chimes in with suggestions.


Thank you Cindy - I liked that too and tried to keep the lost edges somewhat in the background elements.

Donna T
11-26-2009, 08:13 AM
Nice finish Celeste! It's still loose but it looks just refined enough. I like how you related all the elements and there definitely is a rhythm or two going on.

11-26-2009, 08:23 AM
"C"...this one is pretty darn special. It has a wonderful original style that I think you should expand on. The moves you make with the pastel are rich and textural. Love the contrast. p.s. I have seen many of your paintings and your pastels are so different. I like the new direction.

Derek :)

11-26-2009, 09:14 AM
Celest, love the loose style and the set-up, the light as focus in the candle holder works great!

OK, you're done, so a nit-pick for the future. The candle holder and the lid don't 'square' up. The lid looks like it is clearly inscribable in a circle or a square, while the body of the holder looks inscribable in an oval or a rectangle. But it seems I'm the only one who thinks it, so it may be my eyes.

I just love the looseness! Teaches a pedant like me to relax a bit more, thank you!


11-26-2009, 09:22 AM
Donna - glad it has the rhythm, thanks!

Derek - I felt the same way - something about the drawing aspect I think that I liked - I feel much more expressive with strokes with pastels.

Charlie - You're right - the perspective and shape of that little holder and its open lid were a bear to get right. In the end to preserve the overall work I just had to leave it. I did make the lid larger as earlier it seemed too small. I'm just glad that the focus is clear. You'll find throughout my work that most of it's "perfectly imperfect" as someone once described it. Not sure that's always a good thing, but my aim is usually to capture a feeling, energy, moment in time and for me that doesn't always equate to getting everything just right - as life seldom works that way. Hope that rambling makes sense.

11-26-2009, 05:14 PM
Celeste, it makes perfect sense to be imperfect. :-D Truly, I have a strong streak of perfectionism, even though I *know* imperfections make a lovlier painting, so I do get you, even if from the other side, so to speak. That kind of shape is terribly difficult to get right, I've tried, with all my perfectionism, and not succeeded...