Don't Be So Positive

Lemons with Silver by Jacqueline Kamin, oil painting, 9 x 12.

Lemons with Silver by Jacqueline Kamin,
oil painting, 9 x 12.

Artist Jacqueline Kamin paints with a sculptural sensibility that isn’t at all foreign to her practice. Earlier in her career she spent time as a bronze bust sculptor. “Working with sculpture is a lot of fun,” Kamin says. “It is very tactile and organic.” Thinking of a still life or flower study in sculptural terms is also an excellent way of never forgetting negative space–a crucial part of any object-based painting.

Kamin is especially drawn to still life painting, depicting objects that she’s collected for more than 40 years during her travels all over the world, including to Macao, China, and Korea. “Still life painting allows the artist to really control the viewers’ vision, leading them where you want them to look and making them feel like they are in another place, an intimate world,” she says.

But the believability of a still life painting is not vested solely in what objects you choose. Instead, we have to remember that object, the space around the object, and the light that grazes its surface are what make or break a painting. Even though Kamin no longer sculpts as much as she used to, she applies its tenets to her painting process. “Painting is really closer to sculpting than anything else, even drawing,” she says. “Being able to think like a sculptor brings another dimension to your work. You really start to think in terms of form.” For Kamin, evaluating an object’s form involves focusing on texture, the negative space around an object, and how light falls on it.

Petit Roses by Jacqueline Kamin, oil paintingon board, 12 x 8.
Petit Roses by Jacqueline Kamin,
oil painting on board, 12 x 8.

Like a relief sculptor, Kamin is also sensitive to the appearance of the surface of her oil paintings. If it is monotonous, it doesn’t hold your attention. Instead, Kamin is attracted to variety and texture on the surfaces of her work to simulate form, but you can also create these effects with color and a heightened awareness of light and dark, similar to how a relief sculptor is preoccupied with using high and low relief techniques to create dimension and to make both negative and positive space visually appealing.

To learn more about how to build paintings with color, design, and space, consider our latest Artist's Deluxe Collection with resources galore, from watercolor artist Linda Kemp's DVDs on negative and positive space to Simplifying Design, Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines and more. It's an unprecedented amount of art instruction all in one offer. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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