This painting will be auctioned at The Art-Full Raffle on Saturday, May 18, sponsored by the Arts Commission of Danville and Boyle County. I live in Danville. This event raises funds for the McKune Scholarships, which make it possible for kids in our county to study the arts close to home. Tom McKune believed that everyone deserved a great education, and that the creativity of kids should be nurtured by good instruction. I was lucky to know him as a friend, and as a colleague at Centre College. Tom had high ideals and was always focused on helping others. It is an honor to give this work in support of the scholarships named for him.
I made this small oil painting in 2005, from direct observation, working by natural light in my Main Street studio. It is painted on a wooden panel, 7-1/2 inches high, and was done as a study for a larger still-life painting, titled Spiral. In the larger painting, the lemon’s peel is cut open in a spiral, thus the title. That work, now in a private collection in Danville, is visible at my website: http://www.sheldontapley.com/?image=spiral.
Oil sketches like this are an aid in planning a larger work. Their simplicity allows assessment of an idea without the distraction of detail. The small size and rapid execution permits relatively easy changes in color or design, or even outright rejection in favor of another try, on another panel. This one was it. Not only did it serve as a preparatory study, but I liked it so much that it remained in view on my studio wall. When the opportunity arose to support the Arts Commission with a gift, it seemed to me someone else might enjoy it, too.
The brilliant red cloth that covers the table provides the dominant color in the picture. I have painted it many times. The cloth lies in a rumpled mass, with heavy folds pushed up between a blue glass pitcher and a turquoise plate. The cool colors of the plate and pitcher stand out against the red, and the lemon provides another point of color contrast against the plate. The small table is seen from above. It sits askew in the composition and in the room, with its corner just touching the studio wall, onto which it casts a soft shadow. The composition is built around diagonal movements, reaching a climax in the middle, where the folds remind us of the action that must have created this still-life.