David Bellamy – Making Still Life more interesting

The weather continues to be glorious sunshine every day, as though mocking us in our state of lockdown, though even a brief sojourn into the garden can lift our spirits immensely. One genre of painting that is so pertinent in our current situation is, of course, still life. Did I hear a groan? Yes, I’m afraid the thought of painting apples and oranges in a bowl doesn’t exactly set me alight, so when I had to include still life in my Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting many years ago, I really had to rack my brains. My answer was to look for still life subjects based on my hobbies and interests. Ice climbing was one of my interests and when I came across an ancient ice axe and snow shoes in a French refuge I made a sketch of them hanging on a wall.

    As you can see, I’ve lost parts of the snow-shoe rims in order to emphasise other parts. For the book I’d painted a snowy mountain background, but here I wanted to show up the ice-axe much larger. When doing the original sketch I didn’t have much control over the lighting, but if you have the object before you then you can adjust the lighting to create highlights in the right places. If you are a gardener you may like to depict a spade or trowel, or maybe a wheelbarrow. Balls of wool make colourful subjects, perhaps accompanied by knitting apparatus, while fishing reels, old worn-out boots, favourite hats, model ships and the like, and so much more can make challenging objects to paint or draw.

    Many thanks for all your best wishes and comments. Try to keep painting and being creative. Check out the online community of The Artist and Leisure Painter magazines at www.painters-online.co.uk where you’ll get a host of help and ideas. Please note that if you order anything from our shop at the moment there might be a slight delay owing to the current situation. The next blog will feature my painting of the subject I set on the previous blog. Stay safe!

7 thoughts on “David Bellamy – Making Still Life more interesting

  1. Keep sending your blog. It’s a great inspiration. I look forward to when I can join one of your courses again. Best wishes and keep safe.

    • Chris, It’s good to hear from you and I hope you and Anne are keeping well. I shall keep the blogs going as best I can.
      Keep safe and keep painting!

  2. Dear David, I love reading your blogs and particularly liked your picture of the arrangement of flowers in a vase. The colours are so vibrant and the subject lifted my spirits!

    What a strange time it is for us all- Graham and I are in the severely vulnerable group and have to stay here for a long time, I fear. Understandably, Graham is not happy being so restricted and with his Alzheimers becoming a huge problem for him, he is not able to understand or remember why this is all happening. It is a cruel disease- but I can spend time in my painting room, which is separate from the house, to have time to myself, which is a godsend. We have a live- in carer now, which makes my life a lot easier, as she takes the pressure off me a lot. I have to carry oxygen around with me which is a bore, as I have a lung condition similar to COPD called Chronic hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, which is caused by some kind of allergy to something. But painting is my saviour!

    I often think of the holidays which I enjoyed with you and Jennie and the
    lovely places that we visited . We had some great times and your stories at dinner were hilarious! Have you got any more stories to brighten up our enforced lockdown?

    Luckily the Spring has arrived and the garden provides us with lots of inspiration- our rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom and the camellias are stunning.

    You must be finding the restrictions very irksome, as you are a very free roaming spirit?! But I hope you and Jennie are keeping well and that the rest of your family are too.

    With best wishes to you both,

    Beverley. XX

    • Hello Beverley,

      I’m so sorry to hear Graham’s Alzheimers is so bad. It must be hard for you both, but at least it sounds as though painting is giving you a break. With your lung problem you certainly need to self-isolate and it’s so cruel the way it is affecting the lives of vulnerable people.
      I shall see what I can dig up by way of anecdotes for future blogs from my bottomless barrel of blunders. The one about the belly-dancer, however, you will have to wait till the desert book comes out next year!
      Take care and lets hope this plague disappears as soon as possible, for as you say, it’s irksome not being able to travel.

      Keep painting and keep safe!
      David xx

  3. Thanks ,David , for your continuous help and painting suggestions…..also that you are so kind towards us “ oldies” who are obliged to self isolate. Judith Leatham.

    • Judith, How nice to hear from you. I hope you are keeping well and finding lots to paint during these sticky times. Keep painting, and keep safe! Warm wishes, David

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