I started creating art at a very young age. While in the third grade, I won a school competition for the best drawing promoting Fire Prevention Month. Shortly thereafter, I took a field trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), where huge paintings of heroic figures left me awestruck. My desire to paint crystallized during that trip, and I realized that art was to be my life?s work. Eventually, I studied for several years at the Art Students League in New York City and I?ve been painting and exhibiting my work ever since.
Elevating the every day object
I?ve tried just about every genre and media including abstraction, floral, miniature, figurative, portrait and photorealism, but I always come back to still-life paintings. Portraying the light and shadows that make an object is what I find most challenging and satisfying. For success, I must render each object?s unique characteristics and elevate it to a loftier position than it would occupy in reality.
For example, my inspiration for Mayonnaise Jars and Lemons (oil, 17×20), came as I was washing the jar. I focused on the label, particularly enjoying the combination of colors. From there I added lemons, which complemented the label. I knew I wanted a black background, but still felt something was missing, so I added the section of blue.
Process and tools
I usually start a painting by sketching with pencil to work out any composition problems, as well as to familiarize myself with the objects and determine the appropriate canvas size. I always work on Fredrix, single-primed linen canvas, which I stretch myself. I then proceed with a rough wash of yellow ochre and turpentine to place the objects on the canvas.
The next step is to paint the entire arrangement in shades of gray (grisaille) using some turpentine. When that has dried I use oil paint straight from the tube. I use Winsor & Newton for most of my colors and for the rest I use Grumbacher. My medium for any successive layers is composed of one part stand oil and two parts turpentine. I use a limited palette, which usually includes Permalba white, cadmium yellow, French ultramarine blue, Grumbacher red, raw umber, yellow ochre, burnt umber and burnt sienna.
What the future holds
My palette and process has been developed over a lifetime as an artist. I want to keep painting as long as I can, while constantly striving for a higher quality of expression. I would like to leave this world knowing my work was appreciated and that all the years of hard work and study were not in vain.
Katherine Mesch is an assistant editor for The Artist’s Magazine.