Jumbo Fruit, Giant Seashells

16 Mar 2014

Oil painting by James Tormey: Lemons, oil on canvas.
Lemons by James Tormey, oil on canvas.
Natural objects in sharp detail--that says it all according to artist James Tormey. For him, creating great still life paintings is a matter of painting natural objects in sharp detail. Tormey works on large-scale paintings of simple objects, and compositions can therefore be simplistic—lemons in a translucent dish; pears in a silver bowl; seashells on the ground—because the power and presence of the work resides in how they are presented.

The ‘how’ of Tormey’s works is inextricably linked to lighting the objects, as it is in the works of most still life artists. Reflected light and transmitted light are used to highlight surface details and texture, and turn forms in space. In Tormey’s work, objects tend to have intense highlights, and the direction of the light is usually quite obvious.

Another way Tormey distinguishes his works is by allowing his chosen still life objects to become larger than life—they loom on the horizon, overcrowd their niches, and all but block the landscape and city views often featured behind them on window ledges. This is intentional on Tormey’s part, and his still life pieces stand alone because the objects are oversized, yet realistically rendered in every other sense. This causes the viewer to question their own vantage point and the scale of the environment in which the still life objects are situated.

Creating memorable still life art is often a matter of making simple, everyday objects appear unique and unusual, and Tormay’s methods certainly achieve this goal. Mastering still life painting, however, means not only being able to create a dynamic concept with ordinary objects, but also mastering complex forms, lighting patterns, and using color to enhance the illusion of volume. Have you mastered a still life composition? Send me a link so I can see what you have worked on.

Oil painting by James Tormey, oil on canvas.
Tormey makes small fruit appear as large as boulders.
Their monumental size draws the viewer's eye.
And if you are looking for ways to progress with your still life paintings or are just in search of insights about the art of painting, there are so many key resources available right now during the North Light Shop Go Green & Save Green Sale. For the best information art instructors and practicing artists have to offer, plus complete demonstrations at your fingertips, you'll definitely want to take a look at what is available. And who knows, maybe your next painting of a mug or onion or loaf of bread will turn out to be your masterpiece. Good luck!



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Ajparke wrote
on 17 Mar 2014 7:03 AM

Hey Courtney, I enjoyed reading this article.  You ask if we have mastered a still life composition and to send a link so you can see what we have worked on. I too work with fruit, and composition is an aspect which I have learnt to deal with by placing all my objects in glass vessels of one kind or another. The glass becomes a compositional device which allows me to work with multiple complex objects without the constraints of conventional composition. Also I grew up with a brother who smashed all things to do with glass, so I invert this and use glass as a metaphorical means of capturing and preserving objects of beauty. You can see my work here www.parkepaintings.com. Many thanks Anthony

on 17 Mar 2014 7:32 AM

Hi, Courtney.  I really enjoy reading your articles. I love painting still life paintings and appreciate you asking to see other artists work. I am still working on mastering still life compositions and still have a lot to learn.  You can see my artwork at

sylviahramsey.fineartstudioonline.com.

bhenderson wrote
on 22 Mar 2014 10:32 AM

Hi Courtney. I love the challenge of still life - choosing the subject, setting up, resetting, lighting, etc. Please check out some of my still life paintings at

www.bettyhenderson.com

Thanks.

bhenderson wrote
on 22 Mar 2014 10:32 AM

Hi Courtney. I love the challenge of still life - choosing the subject, setting up, resetting, lighting, etc. Please check out some of my still life paintings at

www.bettyhenderson.com

Thanks.

dianejorstad wrote
on 24 Mar 2014 1:55 PM

Dear Courtney,

I loved the article about the still life artist James Tormey.  I don't usually go beyond reading the articles but this time I did check out more of his artwork.

Although I have no writing talent I love painting still life art. My still life are more traditional, using object such as fruit, flowers, fabrics. I try to give then a more contemporary look. I enjoy using  shadows and light to create the form on a variety of different shaped objects. The design of still life art can be very complex...which is better, more or less? My website and 5 pages of still life art is: www.dianejorstad.com/stillLifeArtJorstad.htm

Thank you for your time and talent!

Diane

dianejorstad wrote
on 24 Mar 2014 1:55 PM

Dear Courtney,

I loved the article about the still life artist James Tormey.  I don't usually go beyond reading the articles but this time I did check out more of his artwork.

Although I have no writing talent I love painting still life art. My still life are more traditional, using object such as fruit, flowers, fabrics. I try to give then a more contemporary look. I enjoy using  shadows and light to create the form on a variety of different shaped objects. The design of still life art can be very complex...which is better, more or less? My website and 5 pages of still life art is: www.dianejorstad.com/stillLifeArtJorstad.htm

Thank you for your time and talent!

Diane