Monday, February 23, 2015



Amaryllis ( in progress)
James Aponovich

Don't touch it! It's finished!


Amaryllis / grisaille ( in progress)
James Aponovich


In The Night Studio, The Amaryllis
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 20" x 12"

Complete (well, maybe)

First of all, I must apologize to anyone tuning in to this blog expecting an explanation on how to store an Amaryllis bulb until next year. Unfortunately, I don't have the foggiest idea, but it probably has something to do with newspaper and a dark, dry , cool place. No, this is about a journey of a painting. At this point it is done. Its relative success or failure is not for me to determine, it is only
 time to move on.


The Magic Shelf

James Aponovich

James Aponovich

Coming up......Florence

{week 26}

Copyright 2015 James Aponovich

Monday, February 16, 2015

THE FOOD ISSUE... Mid Winter Edition


James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8"

(or if you must, brunch)

The last time we encountered lobster ( blog post #6), it was stuffed into a hot dog roll, fun and delicious but definitely not elegant. It is my opinion that lobster meat does not lend itself to diverse
 preparations, ( unlike say, chicken), although they do refer to a small lobster as a "chicken lobster." The meat tends to toughen with prolonged cooking, so if you want to avoid the 'dunk in the butter' thing, there is......


White butter sauce, usually made with white wine, vinegar, shallots and of course butter. Since no drink goes better with lobster than Champagne (or Prosecco) and Meyer lemons are ripening in the atrium....This just might work. So combine-

1 small glass of Champagne or Prosecco
2 Tbs. lemon juice and some zest
2 Tbs. shallot, finely diced
2 Tbs. cream
Lots of Butter

Bring some champagne, lemon juice and shallot to a simmer and reduce to not much at all. Add the cream and zest and reduce some more, then add the butter until glossy and irresistible....salt, pepper. Done!

" Lobster Fired Over Cold is some wicked good"
                         - Basil Ladd, Bucks Harbor, Maine

A Downeast expression that some call 'Lazy Man's Lobster' But it is just lobster meat taken out of the shell and finished in a saute pan with butter, enhancing the lobster taste.


You could serve the meat by putting it back into the lobster carcass, but I find that a bit gross
( plus you can't eat he shell), so I turn to
 Elizabeth and ask," could you bake some profiteroles?

Lobster and Cream Puff Pastry Shells (profiteroles)

Baseball size profiteroles are perfect, but nobody minds puff pastry shells from the supermarket.

Now, put a little buerre blanc sauce into the shell, stuff as much lobster as you can, then drizzle more sauce on top, pour a glass of bubbly, sit by a roaring fire, and as they say Downeast....
"Finest Kind! "

{week 25}

Copyright 2015 James Aponovich

Monday, February 9, 2015


* A term used by Boston Globe Art Critic, Cate McQuaid, in describing a similar
painting in an exhibition of mine at Clark Gallery in 2013.

Still Life with Amaryllis (in progress)
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 20" x 12"

There are those who would say, with some justification, "It's finished, don't touch it."
Perhaps they would be right, but there is something in artists that keeps wanting to push things further, to weave a more complex tapestry. "Less is More," not withstanding, I feel that more is needed  in this painting, so for the background, I have decided to fill it up with objects from the studio, my old warhorses.Since I have already determined the value gradient, all I have to do is choose the right objects that will complete the composition....Easy?....Not really. Remember it's a chorus, no off notes. There is a lot to control here, so at this point I turn to a very old technique....


The Flemaille Panel, 1420
Robert Campin (Flemish)

Grisaille is a monochromatic painting, usually grey. It allows the artist to concentrate only with value to create form ( color can quickly get out of hand). Since I had already established the overall values of the background ( darker to lighter), I had to make sure that when all the objects are painted, the total sum of the values would remain the same overall, it's complicated. But, how do I space the background for the objects?


By overlapping two squares based on the width of the rectangle, I arrive at two important horizontal lines. These help in establishing the spacing of the shelves that will create the bookcase.


Still Life with Amaryllis ( in progress)
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 20" x 12"

Next up....Let's color up!

{week 24}

Copyright 2015 James Aponovich

Monday, February 2, 2015



Q. I am outraged! I have been following your pet 'project' for awhile and all I am seeing are insipid pictures of flowers, candy, sticky notes and now a pineapple swan ! Hello! Wake up! Wht aren't you addressing the urgent social issues of economic inequality, our stagnant political structure,pervasive racial prejudice and racism's by-products, world hunger and disease?
                                                                                 - Alyssa M., Cambridge, MA

A. I thought I was.


Calla Lily
James Aponovich
From the Sketchbook, pencil on paper

" Flowers are very hard to paint, much harder than faces or landscapes."
                                                             -Alex Katz, Pop Artist


When Beth and I were asked to write an e-book for the California school system entitled, How To Read A Painting, I knew that we had our work cut out for us. The book was directed at the seventh grade. I once taught the seventh grade and in fact I was once a seventh grader myself. I knew it as a difficult transitional time in life. The clarity of the childhood vision was clouded over by the way things were 'suppose' to be. It soon became apparent what we were saying to them applies to adults as well. We were trying to explain how to not just look but to see and then see deeper. To wit, may I introduce........


I usually paint flowers in the summer or fall when they are in bloom in our garden. The Amaryllis is an exception, it must be painted in winter light.

In my studio

I found an old, exhausted canvas lying around the studio that just had a light wash of a garden scene sketched on it, I knew that it was going nowhere so I covered it in an Iron Oxide ( black) giving me a dark ground. The shape of the canvas seemed appropriate, it's the Golden Section, more or less.

I began painting the flowers all prima, directly onto the dark ground, no room fro error. I had marked where the pot was to be and a small section of the table.


I have said before that when I use a cloth in a painting, it is to balance what is happening in the other parts, by texture, form and color. Because I had no room below the table to establish the cloth, I placed it on top of the table, in back of the pot, in what I call "the sleeping cat position." ( I once painted a sleeping cat into a still life ).

 I chose a brocade fabric with colors, if combined, would result in the same color of the flowers. I hesitate from calling it 'salmon', it doesn't seem right to use the color of the raw flesh of a fish to describe a petal of a flower....or maybe it does.

Amaryllis Flowers ( detail)
James Aponovich

The flowers are what you look at first, they are the stars, the lead singer. The cloth is there for support, the back up singers. I need to bring the eye up and down to both. I could paint water drop on the stem, but before I do that I've established a value gradation in the background, lighter at the bottom, darker at the top, nine values in all.

Amaryllis ( in progress)
James Aponovich

Now, to keep the lower part interesting, I've used some artistic 'smoke and mirrors'. The left side of the cloth is lighter against the background while the right side is darker against the same background, also before I paint the flower pot, the left side of the cloth is darker against the pot while the right side is lighter. There is a constant manipulation of value to keep the eye moving. but maybe the painting is a bit boring and uninspired. Perhaps its time to bring in......
The Greek Chorus

To Be Continued.

{week 23}

Copyright 2015 James Aponovich