Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Delighting In Still Life Painting~ Through The Artist’s Eye

The French have an idiom for expressing exuberance, “j’ai la pêche!” a delicious analogy between their energy and the juice of a ripe peach. Minimalists that Americans are, we parallel with “woo-hoo!” a bit less romantic. I admire the poetry with which the French culture is imbued and consider it a possible source of French joie de vivre. Their expression was in my mind as I composed the not-so-still life painting, J’ai La Pêche.

I begin still life arrangements with an intention. Sometimes it is to tell a story; sometimes it’s to bring awareness to the beauty of light bathing forms or revealing color. In J’ai La Pêche, the intention was to express the buoyant spirit of delight. We are not only minimalists in speech, but in our actions; feelings such as delight need validation. Absent from our language, they may soon disappear from our consciousness.

Pictures are visual language. What we see is absorbed by our mind and processed, not always consciously. We would not have evolved as a species if we didn’t read the danger signals. But we are capable of subtler discernment.

Becoming absorbed in visual delight refines our appreciation, ultimately leading us to view the world through grateful eyes. Living in appreciation is much more peaceful than roiling in anger or despair. It’s better for your health, better for the world. This is the importance of practicing delight.

What is the cause for the visual experience of delight in Jai La Pêche? Much of it has to do with the attraction of color, variety of texture, and the subject matter, but the essential force is in the gliding movement of our eyes.

It begins in the charming soup tureen, which lures with its arabesque pattern. Our eyes pick up the highlight and begin to follow the line of this little whirling dervish, swooping us into the picture plane from left to right in a graceful arc, which is intercepted by the vertical bottle on the left. The magnetic diagonal draws us to the compote jar and the single peach on the right. Here, we linger, like a rest in music, becoming satiated with the radiant color and nuance of reflected light until the draw of the dark, concave soup ladle emerges. We sense the echo of the ladle’s size and shape in the arabesque pattern and follow it with gentle figure eight movements, reaching the peaches on the left. From here, there are multiple pathways, routes back through the painting, all suggested by relationships of edges and geometry. I love for the viewer to continue discovering new aspects of my paintings.

Our eye movement is varied and pleasant, dominated by graceful, gliding movements~ en glissant, as the French say. I invite you to explore J’ai La Pêche. I hope it makes you smile.

Melody Phaneuf is a Boston Artist, working at Fenway Studios. Phaneuf is well known for her evocative still life and landscape paintings and has achieved significant acclaim for portraiture. She has exhibited at Galerie Herouet in Paris, The National Arts Club in New York City, and with Art du Monde, a traveling exposition in Japan. Phaneuf’s paintings are regularly displayed at the Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, MA.

Melody The Artist Home, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo showcases the artist’s original paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and coasters, fine art prints, and handmade note cards. Online ordering at

J’ai La Pêche, is a 26 x16 Oil Painting by Melody Phaneuf. Fine art prints and handmade note cards of this still life painting are available at

Would you like to see the original still life painting in person?
Come visit my studio

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Anonymous said...

I'm interested in buying this painting. Is the original still available for purchase?

skyblue said...

Dear Melody, I will express admiration to your artistic quality.

MelodyTheArtist said...

Hello Anonymous,
The painting is available.

Thank-you for your kind words. Your name evokes a pleasantly sunny image.


Tea, Thyme and Cozies said...

This is beautiful!!! I had to look close because the way you did the light reflection is so realistic I thought it was a photo! Great work!!! No, amazing work! You have actually made me like still lifes again, so many are dark and gloomy. Thanks for the re-inspiriation!!!

MelodyTheArtist said...

Tea Thyme,

I truly appreciate your enthusiastic comment! I am fortunate to have an ideal studio situation, where the lighting is from the north and constant. The windows are 14 feet high; shades come up from the bottom and down from the top, so there is a great deal of control in lighting. If you find yourself in Boston, please visit!