Friday, September 22, 2017

"Why do you paint still lifes?"

"Gas Fired Iron" 11"x14", Copyright Steven J Parrish, Oil on Panel
I was asked this question during a discussion on subjects for art by someone who wasn't interested in still life paintings. I didn't need any time to think of my answer; "Because I am in control of everything and the subjects are limitless." This was someone I knew well and we have had numerous art discussions over the years, so we could discuss it freely. I thought more about it after that discussion and the following are just some of the reasons I paint still life.

From a composition perspective my studio has hundreds of objects, my garage hundreds more, my wife's studio hundreds more, and every antique shop thousands more. Anything I can get into my studio is a potential subject. I control everything about the light, including it's location, temperature, intensity, and direction. Shadows, oh the shadows! I can select objects in any color harmony or dis-harmony I want. Size, shape, surface, fabric, simple, complex, high key, low key, infinite possibilities.

I sometimes spend more time on my compositions than on the actual painting. On the simplest level I can solve many of my painting problems by fixing them in the setup. I start with either an object I am dying to paint (The gas fired iron above) or a concept I want to explore. Once I have an object or concept I start playing with supporting objects. This is the fun part for me, I don't care what the object is as long as it moves the concept forward of supports the main object. I am looking for reflections, cast shadows, reflected light. I love reflected light and color! Scale, shape, surface texture, warm, cool, bright, dark, complimentary color, whatever the setup needs to make me want to paint it.

First and foremost I paint for me. I hope people appreciate my work, but I have to want to paint it. I will work with objects until the setup either makes me smile, or a title pops into my head. Once either of those two things happens I know I'm close to starting the painting. At that point I start to make decisions on what I am going to accentuate and what gets pushed back from a "How I'll paint it" perspective.

The concept of the painting below was; What would happen if the little turquoise cup just threw it's color everywhere? The setup then gave it the title, "Coffee, Tea, or Something Stronger".

"Coffee, Tea, or Something Stronger", 11"x14", Copyright Steven J Parrish, Oil on Panel
I am currently working on a series of paintings that explore the concept of the concept. I'll cover that next time, once I finish the third painting.

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Workshop Announcement

 Workshop Information
This workshop is limited to 10 participants. Join us!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hunting Objects:

My life as an artist, married to an artist, is a beautiful thing. We look at the clouds when we are driving somewhere. We notice how the late afternoon light hits the trees around us at the golden hour. We are always looking for subjects to paint.

However, as a still life painter I sometimes struggle with inspiration. I can spend days setting up a still life, adding objects, moving them around, changing the light, trying different background colors and still be uninspired. As a rule, I don't start painting until the setup makes me smile, laugh, or a wacky title pops into my head.

The upside to this struggle is that we are always looking for new still life objects. We visit antique shops in every town we visit anywhere we are in the world. The great thing about still life hunting as opposed to antique shopping is that you can find gems in every corner. It doesn't have to go with your collection, it doesn't have to look good on your mantle, it doesn't even have to make sense. I look for objects based on size, shape, color, uniqueness, paint-ability, pattern, patina, constructibility, and rustiness. Our studios are adorned with the most beautiful assemblage of whimsy imaginable. Shelves full of bottles, cups, vases, bones, toys, tools, ribbons, hats, shells, and on and on. They are loosely organized  by color, material, purpose or whether they need to be propped up by something else to keep them on the shelf. Things are in the closets, under the tables, in the corners, on display in various rooms in the house, in bins, in boxes, paint brushes are stored in them, they are used as door stops, and they are collecting that wondrous gray blue dust!

What is the point of all of this, well, the last object hunt we went on was at the Neato Outlet in Boyce, VA. If you need a 500 pound hippopotamus for your front yard, they have several to choose from. We were hunting smaller game on our visit. We spent several hours looking at every item in the place gathering little piles of potential quarry for later revue. We ended up buying 8 to 10 random objects of glass, silver-plate, rusty stuff, and the subject of the painting below.

"The Plane, The Plane", 11"x14", oil on linen, Steven J Parrish copyright.
This plane appears to have been made by someone in his home workshop as a toy or as sculpture for display. As soon as I saw it in the display case I saw this painting in my head. Simple, a single object on a wooden surface.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I have created a public Facebook page for my art

I will be using the Facebook page to show paintings in stages as I work on them. Posts on this BLOG will expand to include to topics that require more than what can be covered in a short Facebook comment.

My wife Linda Volrath has a Facebook page for her art as well. You can follow what she is up to here.

"Bethlehem Creek", Steven J Parrish, Oil on Linen, 8"x10"

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Workshop information update

The Shenandoah Arts Council has updated their website with more information and a registration link.

This link includes a description and material list.

Looking forward to 3 great days of Still Life painting.

"Power Cord", Oil on Linen, Steven J Parrish, 16"x12"

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Upcoming Workshop

I will be teaching a three day oil painting workshop April 18, 19, and 20, 2016. We will be using the controlled conditions of still life painting to work on problem solving that applies to all subjects. I will be painting two 4 hour demonstrations with the rest of the time being spent working together as you work on your painting. Participents should know the fundimentals of oil painting before taking this workshop. 

The workshop is being held at the Shenandoah Arts Council in Winchester Virginia. For more information contact Jaimianne at the Council. Here is a link to the councils notice.

Hope to see you there;

Steven J Parrish

"We Three Apples", Steven J Parrish, Oil on Canvas,14"x11"

"Lemons and Silver", Steven J Parrish, Oil on Canvas, 9"x12"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Virtuosos of the OPA

Presenting the artwork of 
Opening Reception:
Thursday, September 17 
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

at the prestigious Salmagundi Club
Forty-Seven Fifth Avenue, New York City

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please call 
Salmagundi Club at: (212) 255-7740      

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