Christmas 2012. I was taking down the ornaments from my tree on January 7, 2013. As I looked at each one, I began to think how unusually pretty some of them were. Those thoughts immediately led me to the next thought: “What neat still life paintings I could paint using some of these ornaments.” “Two Birds in a Basket” is my first painting using these ornaments.
Most of my time was spent creating representations of small pearls. I found this very relaxing – almost zen-like – painting the same tiny round circle in pinks and lavenders, with a touch of reflective light, some body shadow, and a tiny dot of white highlight over and over again.
I painted the sequins several different times in different ways, trying to get the semblance of a sequin. The pony beads on the wire basket went fast as they each got their share of body color, shadow, and highlight. The purple gems in the center of the wire basket went much more slowly as I painted them twice over trying to mimic the translucence of the gems. I tried both opaque applications and transparent applications over white paint. Finally, I settled on a combination of the two, painting the body color with transparent paint, and the dark shadowed areas with a buildup of glazed color with some opaque light colored paint for the reflections of light.
I did a fair amount of thinking about how to represent all of the wire in the basket. I thought that painting all of it as is would be too busy, so I put in only some of the thin wire here and there to get the overall impression of a wire basket.
Because the birds and basket were so ornate, I didn’t want to leave the background plain. So I stenciled a pearlized version of the dark paint for the background over a layer of lace to create the lacy background. I painted the image on a gallery wrapped canvas. However, in hindsight, if I were to do it again, I would use a regular canvas because I think the painting would be enhanced by a fancy frame. The cradle is 1.5″, so, I suppose, if one really wanted to, one could have it professionally framed anyway.