One small step


Plums on a handmade plate (25cms x 22cms acrylic and pencil on board 2016)

For me, this painting represents a step forward and a loosening of the creative ties that bind. It may not seem that remarkable – three plums on an asymmetrical handmade plate can only say so much! – but it’s not a result I would have been happy with a year ago.

My ambition in still life painting is to achieve certain things: accurately representing what lies before me isn’t one of them. You know what a plum looks like; nothing I can tell you about a plum will make it more profound; however painstakingly I try to reproduce the plum in all its shades and textures and colours it will never look as beautiful as the plum that sits there on that off-white plate.

Instead I offer you my graphic interpretation of a plum. It suggests a certain plum-ness, but like the gages I painted a few weeks ago, you wouldn’t mistake it for the real thing. None of this is new, but what makes it a breakthrough for me is that I didn’t try to tidy it all up.

I thought the red shape behind the plate of plums enhanced the composition, even though it represents nothing concrete in real life. I flattened the perspective of the surface that the plate sits on even though the plate itself is somewhat elliptical. And I painted a line across the top that my art teacher in school would have said was a compositional error had he been interested enough to say anything at all!

So, although this isn’t perfect it is exactly how I wanted it to be, knowing that it wasn’t perfect. When that happens, as the composer Jean Sibelius once said, it’s as if God has thrown down pieces of mosaic from the floor of heaven and asked you to reassemble them on earth. When the hundred small decisions go well in your own small picture, as Felix Scheinberger has it, it’s almost as if you’d discovered the pattern in heaven’s mosaic! I hope you agree.



20 thoughts on “One small step

  1. Dear Michael, well done and well said. I fully agree with what you have written. Great pictorial result. Who knows whether things really are as we see them? Best wishes. Edoardo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the painting and your thoughts on it very much. Humbly, you call it a small step but I think it is a large one. Letting go of one’s training, or even conditioning to try to attain certain results is the beginning of finding your own true work. Wonderful! Letting go and trusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In expressing the ‘plumness’ of plums, and the ‘plateness’ of the plate, you have expressed their nature beyond how they look, and also the nature of the paint, and arranged it with simple elegance. Your work has the authenticity of genuine endeavour. As you may have gathered, I really like it!


  4. Love the colours and the looseness of this piece! And I love that it’s your interpretation of plums on a plate and how they look and feel for you! And I think the horizontal line across the painting adds to the composition!:)


  5. I created my ‘graphic representation’ of a pig today. Then, had a BIG laugh with my husband. But…. I’m okay with it. Will share on my blog after Christmas -it’s a gift for someone. 👍


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s