As you know, my father was very well known for his paintings of roses. Here are two beautiful examples. Let’s have him tell you in his own words what he enjoyed about painting still life, and roses in particular:
“Still life painting is very satisfying because the artist is able to control all the elements. He can select whatever he wants to paint according to his mood and to what is at hand – an exquisite vase, an intricately carved bowl, an old pot. He can gather together all his favorite objects collected over the years: dolls, carvings, fabrics, glassware; combine them with fruits, flowers, fish, anything; and at his leisure select, arrange and light them to his satisfaction.
“Then he paints his picture under studio conditions, where the wind doesn’t blow, the light doesn’t change, and there are no curious passersby. Complete concentration is possible. The objects don’t move or get tired or bored, and there is no need to cope with the rigidity and distortion encountered when working from photographs. Once in a while a rose may wilt or a grape my rot or a fish may get a bit ripe, but they can be replaced.
“The artist has time to play around with various techniques used by masters ranging from Harnett to Cezanne to Braque. Or he can take his inspiration from the exciting bravura style of Fechin or the personal, delicate manner of Pushman.
“It is impossible to place a rose in a setting where its beauty doesn’t radiate. These two paintings show white roses in different lights. One painting has flat lighting which delineates the subtle values of the petals, and the other painting has strong back lighting which plays up the fragile transparency of the petals and the firm structure of the flowers themselves. In both these paintings I set the aristocratic roses in crude pottery vases. In one an onion nestles beside a fine Chinese porcelain box.”
I am particularly nostalgic about White Roses with Onion. I still own it, and the little porcelain box belongs to my mother.
Quotes from A Gallery of Paintings by Clark Hulings, which is available for purchase.