The Nature of Being Still

Friday, March 16, 2012

These carrots used to be alive. Enclosed in soft brown, nutritious earth, with their green leaves swinging to the whims of the autumn breeze. 

Then, human hands forcefully pulled them out, stack them in a brown box, shipped them halfway across the world,to  end up on a chilled self of a American hypermarket. 

They were again picked up by the hands of a considerate cook, who trimmed them and cleaned them and then roasted them. And thus they died. 

I found this photograph a couple of months ago, posted on one of the numerous food blogs I subscribe to  (unfortunately I don't remember which - if anyone recognises this photograph please let me know and I will give the appropriate credit to the photographer). 

I loved it the moment I saw it. Its genius lies in the simplicity of the composition and the positioning of the objects which creates the illusion of depth. The perspective is very well balanced and the colours are well matched, combining the vibrancy of the orange with calmness of the grey-purplish background. These carrots are by no means dead. The photograph has immortalised them.

I've decided to try and capture these elements in a painting. It seemed easy at the beginning but it is proving to be quite a challenge, finding the right tone of orange and brown and green. I want to infuse them with life. 

I've never liked the term "dead nature" that is frequently used to describe this type of paintings. There is nothing dead about them. So many paintings are so alive that you can almost reach and pick up the fruit and flowers. That is why they are called "still lifes". Life cought at it best moment, immortalised for ever.

My attempt is very modest compared to the Dutch, German and Flemish masters of the 17th century. It is not yet finished. I hope by next week I will be able to capture the life of the painting, even for a tiny, flinting moment.


Please share with me your thoughts about this post. Thank you for visiting.