Congratulations to our April 2017 Artist of the Month, Elaine Kurie! Kurie was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her still life Egg can be seen below. Read more about the artist and how she finds inspiration from the concept “less is more.”
April 2017 Artist of the Month | Still Life, Elaine Kurie
I’m a figure and still life painter. I recently won First Place in the Portrait Society of America’s 12th Annual Members Competition. I believe that my figure painting skills are the result of the years I devoted to painting the still life. Many of the same concerns in painting still life subject—such as understanding form shadows and cast shadows, perspective, and using color effectively—are the same concerns when painting the figure.
Most of my paintings reflect a minimalist aesthetic. I also use a limited palette, which contributes to the balance, order and harmony in my paintings. Instead of adding more to my still life, I frequently ask myself: What can I remove? How can I make this statement stronger? When deciding on a composition, I look for ways to use the negative space between and around the objects, so they contribute to the overall design and provide visual resting places.
I gathered several objects with contrasting qualities for this painting. I ended up with the egg, glass jar and metal lid. I sketched out various compositions on paper, and chose one to use as a guide. I then applied gesso and sanded a 24×36” linen canvas. I sketched in the composition with a medium-sided brush using raw umber and odorless mineral spirits. After refining the drawing, I blocked-in the shadows and wiped out the light areas with a rag, and allowed this time to dry.
The next step involved painting the dark areas with paint that was thick enough for good coverage, yet thin enough to avoid brushstrokes. I prefer Blockx paint because it contains poppy oil and dries slowly, allowing more time for blending. Williamsburg paint is another favorite, as it’s finely ground and also has good coverage. My palette colors are titanium white, yellow ochre, red oxide, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, raw umber, black and burnt umber.
After painting the middle values and blending them into the shadow areas with a soft brush, I then painted the lighter values and blended them into the middle values. Lastly, I painted the highlights in thin layers to prevent build-up. My favorite parts of the painting process are in the beginning and later stages. The beginning stage is always exciting, and I enjoy the final stage because the hard part is over by then.