Rituals. Everybody has their own.
It’s the way you get ready to go to work, or the details of your showering routine. My dog, Nila’s bedtime ritual begins with her entering the bedroom and waiting at the foot with her head ‘hidden’ under the bed itself. She will wait until someone says, “come on up” then leaps on top of the comforters and scoots straight up to our faces. She will then bury her snout in a pillow and wait for Tony or me to let our guard down, then steal as many big, sloppy licks as she can before getting scolded and banished to the foot of the bed. This will be followed some time later with the classic dog circling move, which will finally terminate in her plopping down like a sack of cement. She actually makes a great anchor for the bed linens, keeping them from gathering on one side of the bed or the other.
My studio ritual goes a little something like this:
- Pull into the parking lot at the ACVR building.
- Sit in my car and listen to MPR for another five to ten minutes, struggling not to fall asleep.
- Wake up.
- Head into the building and walk up the three flights of stairs instead of using the elevator.
- Make my way down the hall to the studio, let myself in, and turn on the lights. Lighting is important to the artist. I like as much of it as possible.
- Start the coffee.
While the coffee is brewing, I start up some music and wet my watercolors. If there’s time, I’ll stare at some of my work disapprovingly before going to pour the first cup.
It was at this stage, the other day, that I noticed the bubbles that form when the coffee is poured, then fleetingly cling to the sides of the mug before popping moments later. I just had to incorporate them into my next piece.
This is the latest of my finished mug paintings. It’s the same mug as the previous one, but this time I gave it the company of a prop: a paper napkin I wanted to use the napkin to show the subtle contrast between the off-white porcelain and the bleached-pulp white of the paper product. Very subtle.
I applied the learnings from the last go-round – or at least tried to. I still had difficulty achieving the desired quality of the brown counter top, but it got there a little faster this time; finished in about two hours. The modeling of the mug is more pronounced… solid with a very satisfying highlight on the right inner rim.
The composition is simple but effective. Here’s where artistic license came into play. The upper edge of the counter is almost completely ‘invented’. From the earliest stage, it was apparent that a little bit of interest and movement was needed toward the top of the composition. I chose a position and angle for the edge that achieved what the painting needed, rather than what reality showed me.
Funny thing is, when you pull it off, the result looks perfectly natural.
Which of the three “Mugs Shots” is your favorite so far? Why?