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The Making of “Sift and Stir”

I’ve been sporadically writing pieces about how my paintings progress from a blank canvas to a completed work.  This, another of those pieces, is about a painting that fought me from start to finish.

First let me share one of my greatest fears as an artist – losing my eyesight.  As I’ve gotten older my vision has increasingly needed the assistance of corrective lenses.  It was during one of the periods when my vision was rapidly changing and my once-a-year optometrist visits couldn’t keep up with the pace of change that I began this painting.

Normally, when I paint a still life, I paint directly from life.  “Sift and Stir” is not one of those paintings.

We live in a time when people desire photo-realism in art.  I don’t particularly care for that insistence but can execute a piece that fits that desire competently.  However, with this piece even though I had the group of items arranged less than four feet away from my easel I could not see the details I needed to capture in the painting.

Fortunately, I’m also a photographer and have used that skill not only to assist me in creating paintings but in deciding on composition as well.  These are the photographs I took of the original arrangements for the painting:

Sift and Stir Still Life Original Arrangment

Sift and Stir Still Life Original Arrangment

Sift and Stir Still Life Starting Arrangment

Sift and Stir Still Life Starting Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have collected old kitchen implements for many years and liked the red-handled pieces’ vividness against the black background.  I also have this wonderfully whimsical egg separator I received as a gift a long time ago that I included in the second version along with the addition of the bag of flour.  I wanted to ‘tell a story’ of a different kind of creativity – that of cooking from scratch – in the painting.  The egg separator obviously doesn’t fit and only those that had seen me use it would have a clue what it was but in it went!  Artist and painting at war.

So with the assistance of both the arrangement and the photograph I began the painting.  As you’ll see the little smiling cup’s expression slowly turned into a menacing grin for me.  It made sense to me!  It needed to stay!

Beginiing Sift and Stir with starting reference photograph

Photo & start of “Sift and Stir”

Beginning of "Sift and Stir"

Beginning of “Sift and Stir”

 

 

 

 

 

 

And The Battle of the Separator begins - Day 2 of "Sift and Stir"

And The Battle of the Separator begins – Day 2 of “Sift and Stir”

"Sift and Stir" Day 2 with Reference Photograph

“Sift and Stir” Day 2 with Reference Photograph

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determined to make it work

Determined to make it work

I became so frustrated with the lack of progress that I stepped away from the painting for a full month. When I came back to the painting, I thought I had figured it out.  It was the color of the cup that didn’t work! So I gleefully removed the grin from the canvas. worked on some other details, and came back the next day with a new and improved version of the egg separator.

"Erasing" the grin

“Erasing” the grin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding it back in red

Adding it back in red

Red Cup Version working day 5 on "Sift and Stir"

Red Cup Version working day 5 on “Sift and Stir”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A better version of the egg separator grin

A ‘better’ version of the egg separator grin

More details on day 6 (actual working days on the piece) nothing new on the

More details on day 6 (actual working days on the piece) but nothing new on the egg separator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing progress.....

Reviewing progress…..

Stuck on working day 6 of "Sift and Stir"

Stuck on working day 6 of “Sift and Stir”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another month went by and I finally gave in to what the painting needed and replaced the cup with something that still fit the story but did so more directly.

Source photo close up of eggs that replaced the dreaded egg separator

The replacements….photograph

Finally completed after four months

Eggs in place

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took a bit of work to get the red out and work the eggs in, so the painting has texture to it.  I was happy it turned out that way because it reminds me of the way a counter top and implements feel when you have been mixing pastry.  So after four months that could have easily been less than four weeks except for my stubborn desire to make the painting do what I wanted, the painting was completed.  Once dry a nice dark black frame set it off and it is ready to go to a new home.

Completed at last - "Sift and Stir"

Completed at last – “Sift and Stir”

Framed "Sift and Stir"

Framed “Sift and Stir”

 

 

 

 

 

 

That hasn’t happened yet but it decorates our kitchen when it’s not on exhibit.

If you are interested in this painting click here.


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