Another still-life: the perils of trying way too hard

As happens, life got in the way and I’ve let my blog slip for a bit as I dealt with some annoying and painful events that I’m now on the other side of. In my commitment to document every one of my paintings, though, I’m going to drift back in time to when I thought I was pretty hot stuff for creating my first work in color (extremely dark and under-saturated color, but color nonetheless). Now it’s — let’s say — a few days later.

Let me preface this next image by letting you know that I’m a little embarrassed by it. It’s no Dopey and the Oven Mitt. But hopefully someday when I’m famous(!), some insecure beginner like myself will see it and say, “What?! Jennifer Caritas started like this?!”

Yeesh. I think I hate it even more in digital form.

Okay, first off — what the heck is going on with that little bowl on the left? It appears to be doing some Dali-esque melting. And all of my little stones seem caught in their own little tornados. Maybe this is actually a masterwork of surrealism!

I’d probably forgive myself the odd perspectives and brushwork missteps, though, if I were happy with the style. What I’ve done here, though, is an unsuccessful mashup of realistic and expressive, which reads as unrealistic, and very messy. Hyper-realistic painting is not a style I care for anyway, but I’m realizing that once I start adding all the small-brush details (like the grain on the vase and the table), I’ve upped the ante for how perfect all the other aspects of the painting need to be. No little halos or tornados allowed! Now I have to figure out how I can suggest grain (and other details) without resorting to all the little ticky-tacky lines I’ve used here.

So much to learn!

What I did well:
I like the two stones on the right.
The composition was somewhat thought-out.

What I could’ve done better:
Too much to list! Odd distortion on bowl, too many little lines to suggest grain, light from several sources…

5 thoughts on “Another still-life: the perils of trying way too hard

  1. I love the stones, and I feel they need the backdrop (which you don’t like) to really pop like they do now. Look at Paul Cézanne’s still life paintings. He played with distortion, which, in my opinion, made his work unique.


    1. Oh, thank you! It seems like in every painting I do there are one or two small things that work well — and dozens of others that make me want to tear out my hair. I’m still working towards making those successful things purposeful instead of just happy accidents!


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