There was a talk at the Auckland Art Gallery two weeks ago featuring a small still life study of Picasso’s, Verre et Pichet. The painting reminded me of my art studies at University when I painted a fragment from one of Picasso’s cubist works (long forgotten the name). This in turn set me thinking about the many still life sketches I used to do of simple kitchen objects. At one stage I produced one (at least) per day. Perhaps this talk would be the kick-start I needed to set me on a similar drawing trajectory. I asked a like-minded friend if she’d like to accompany me to the gallery and happily she accepted. We set off in anticipation of what we might gain from the talk that day.
We learned that Verre et Pichet was painted in 1944, in Paris during the war, one of many images of domestic scenes Picasso executed during his years there. His palette was unusually muted and subdued, a reflection of the times he lived through. One can imagine that blackouts existed and maybe limited access to the outdoors was a reason that common kitchen utensils became more significant subjects for the artist. Picasso often depicted motifs of lamps, candles and lemons. He used what he had to hand I expect. The Verre et Pichet was only 300mm x 413mm but very interesting my friend and I found, as we stood studying the painting once the talk was over, discussing the way Picasso had engaged line with objects to divide the work.
Back home, I fetched a French jug (pichet) from a high cupboard. This was rather apt I thought, having bought it in Provence on my first trip to France. I wasn’t planning to imitate the Picasso, but merely create a simple life study, as I used to. I placed a cut lemon on a small dish in front of the jug, and a potted orchid bedside it. I made a quick pencil sketch of this, which was understated, but would do I decided and laid it to one side. With the next sketch I wished to pare the drawing back and create a more abstract sketch – a là the cubist style of the Picasso painting I had just viewed.
Being someone who usually draws things as they are, attempting a reductionist approach is always interesting. I rather liked what transpired with this sketch. It is clear that I made my jug more in line with the master’s. I moved the knife from the dish, and placed it point down in the cylinder, and removed one of the lemon halves, bringing it more in line with a Picasso’s painting. Yes, a touch of lemon would do.
Yesterday I went shopping for new paints, as the old ones had dried out with disuse. This week I aim to paint a still life abstract in oils on board. Watch this space!