I Want It Now! – OCA Assessment Piece 2

Recently I posted the first of my two Assessment Pieces which was of natural items. I’ve finally done my second piece which is of man-made items.

For some time I’ve fancied doing a 21st Century British Vanitas based on 17th Century Dutch ones.

According to that font of unpeer reviewed information that is Wikipedia, a vanitas is “a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries … and were meant to remind viewers of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death.

“Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit, which symbolizes decay; bubbles, which symbolize the brevity of life and suddenness of death; smoke, watches, and hourglasses, which symbolize the brevity of life; and musical instruments, which symbolize brevity and the ephemeral nature of life.”

This vanitas from 1625 is by Pieter Claeszoon.

I felt that there were a number of items which reflect the transience of modern life and so I’ve drawn a can of coke, a pizza box and a crisp packet, all empty, a couple of celeb mags and my old mobile phone. All the items, except the phone are found objects which had been discarded. Since I’ve just upgraded even the phone will probably be put in a drawer and forgotten about!

I didn’t plan it, but most of the colours were similar which helped harmonise the piece. As I’d used my fine liner pens on my natural still life, I tried using a metal nibbed dipping pen. Part way through I managed to throw indian ink all over the work. I reverted to the fine liner pens for the second attempt! The washes are yellow ochre and cadmium red, shaded with indian ink where appropriate.

I’m generally happy with the work but constructive comments and criticism would be appreciated. (I’ve done a pale grey wash over the large white areas of my natural still life on the suggestion of a couple of people.)

About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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14 Responses to I Want It Now! – OCA Assessment Piece 2

  1. I love the color combination, and the great intensity of your detail and care with each item, very similar in spirit to the reverence and meditative detail in the vanitas paintings! Love your idea. Hope it’s a series…

    • Thank you for your kind words. It is planned as just a one-off as it is an assessment piece for my OCA Drawing 1 course. However I could try other similar ideas – even if it’s only to be able to say “I’m a rubbish drawer” and mean “I draw rubbish!” (Thinks: Will the phone be put into a rubbish drawer? Three meanings? I’m getting confused myself!)

  2. Caroline Johnson says:

    Love the picture John and I like the symbolism. You’ve provided me with a lightbulb moment and a bit of inspiration so thankyou

    • Is it an energy efficient lightbulb moment or are you going to have to do some work on it? And thanks for the comments.

      • Incidentally, Caroline, since I know you’ve done the Drawing 1 course, am I OK regarding my use of colour washes on this one? i.e. What is a drawing; what is a painting? what is ‘mixed media’? I’m never sure on this course what is OK and at what point they might say, “Whoa! This is a drawing course, not a painting course!”

  3. Odyssey says:

    looking so real and so unreal at the same time… magic

  4. Hello. 🙂

    Just popped over from Richard Guest’s blog.

    I like what I’m seeing and reading!

  5. seascapesaus says:

    I like the simple colour harmony and the subject matter. The winner of the 2011 Nora Heysen Prize for Still Life depicted a Macca’s meal so you are on the money! Compositionally I find the mobile phone a bit dominant (!) but I also like the little dark notes of the can top and the Doritos lettering which the eye hops to. Nice echoes of the screen shape. Did you want the mobile to be the focal point?

  6. Caroline Johnson says:

    Hi John
    Have they put any limits on the media to be used. If not then I’d go with what you’ve got. Don’t forget the course was in 2 parts when I did it. Now it’s combined so that makes a difference and if they have no actually specified that it has to be in black and white then you have more freedom but be careful that the drawing predominates. As to my lightbulb moment, you’ve made remember the use of symbolism and given me a name for it. Names are very powerful- so thank you again

  7. I really enjoyed reading this and can now add the term vanitas to my growing list. I like the composition and the way in which we only see one complete item – the phone , the rest only in part. To me, the three areas of black give a balance to the whole image. As for whether it is a drawing or not, perhaps your tutor would advise ? My tutor commented that I’d used as much colour as I did in my first man made objects piece. My tutor is, however, new to OCA and getting used to the structure of the course.
    Thanks for sharing this,

  8. That’s terrific. I love vanitas and memento mori.

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