Monday, February 20, 2012

Peculiar Pachyderm and painting setups

Peculiar Pachyderm
20" x 16"    oil on panel

Peculiar Pachyderm
will be showing  at 
Elliott Fouts Gallery
Sacramento, CA
Apr 7, 2012 - May 3, 2012
I have often been asked how I set up my still life paintings. I often have items that seem to defy gravity, or float, or seem to have some sort of "magic" in them.  I have always looked at setting up my paintings like the staging of a play. 
In theater what you see may not always be what is actually going on behind the scenes. I don't want to take away too much from the visual magic, but I thought Peculiar Pachyderm would
be a good example to let you in on the set up.  
I am crafty. I am not afraid to use props, hot glue, string, wire, extra blocks. These are all things that you don't see in the final paintings. I have to make sure all my items are secure so I can set up my lighting just right for my shadows to add to the drama. They have to be sturdy enough not to fall apart as they sit.

You will notice I use a thick gauge wire to glue the peanuts to. I had to prop the wire up in back to make sure it would not sag over time. The wire was stiff but not that strong.

After placing the tin elephant coin bank in his spot, I did have to remove and reglue some of the peanuts just to make sure they had the right spacing and height along the wire.

To get the final peanut in its proper spot in relation to the elephants trunk I did have to work on the bend in the wire to get it just right. 

In the final painting of course you don't see the wire. The wire was thin enough to allow me to see the wonderful shadows the peanuts had on the wooden box. 

When I come up with ideas for my paintings, it is often a challenge for me to figure out the set ups, the stage. But it is a challenge I enjoy. Hope I didn't spoil too much of the magic for you. 


  1. WOW! Another great composition, and you've given me some great ideas to "toy" with!

  2. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks for sharing, whimsical as ever!

  4. Very interesting ! It takes a patient person to do all the set-up work . I appreciate your sharing that and the painting is just wonderful.

  5. Thanks for letting us know how you did the set up for this painting, which has really inspired me to try to invent some more unusual set-ups with my still life props.

  6. Thank you for sharing your process...but I still think you didn't let us in on your magic. ;)