Some artists search fervently for variety in their subject matter. Some fall into repetition in subject and handling, lulled into the comfort of repeating success. Some, however, have an eye to finding variety and novelty within limited subject matter, by virtue of imaginative variation in the handling of the subject. Monet, for example, would paint the same scene over and over, catching the fugitive variations in light that changed by the hour or season.
As I was reading through Bert Dodson’s book on Drawing with Imagination (yesterday’s post), which is in many ways about finding invention in variation on a theme, it brought to mind a painter I had mentioned in my last post on “Painting a Day” painters, who finds wonderful variety and freshness within a limited subject.
Carol Marine is a painter in Texas who has been practicing the painting a day regimen since October of 2006. Many of the painting a day painters find themselves, naturally enough, painting subjects that are easily at hand, small household objects, food and, in particular, that staple of traditional still life painting, fruit. In addition to other subjects, Marine has taken apples, pears, nectarines, and other, predominantly round fruit, some of the most basic and familiar of nature’s forms, and made them the subject of numerous paintings.
If you ever think you are at a loss for subject matter, Marine’s variations on simple arrangements of apples, for example, make an eye-opening course in how to find variety, freshness, novelty, and seemingly endless discovery within a humble subject. Her small still life paintings are little marvels of dynamic composition, bold paint handling and daring color contrasts.
Though always representational, there is a great deal of abstraction in her work, in the truest and best sense of that word, meaning to abstract or refine the essence of something. The negative spaces are almost equally as strong as the objects in her compositions. The forms themselves are defined with strong tonal contrasts, great glowing chunks of color and solid but free draftsmanship. At times, she gives her forms a hint of a drawn edge, a line, somewhat like Cezanne, another painter who found great variation within the humble subject of fruit.
In addition to her blog, Marine has a primary web site on which you will find more finished works, including florals, portraits and very nice landscapes. You will also find a more refined but still fresh and dynamic handling of still life subjects, including, yes, fruit.