Here is a painting that relies heavily on the compositional arrangement of the objects. I was doing some research into academic painting and the arrangement here was developed from some simple studies in formal composition. I set up the objects according to some of the basic principles suggested from my readings. This included a backdrop and a steady source of light from a large window.
The process was different from “direct painting” where the rendering of the objects is created by directly applying paint onto the canvas and resolving the image without drawing or preparation of underpainting. Instead, this one was “brought up” with a charcoal drawing and fixed in place with a fixative. A thin under painting was made with a light raw umber to describe the basic lights and darks and to put a first layer of paint onto the canvas. Over the course of a few days, color was added layer by layer in what is considered and older or more “academic” method of working, until the last thicker highlights were placed.
Afterword, I found that the formal compositional strength appears to play against the airiness of the diffused light as it is softly rendered. So it seems, that one of the nice aspects of painting in this very “traditional” manner is its ability to allow the most subtle notes to harmonize and have a particular loveliness, particularly in a serene arrangement such as a still life.
Note: Tap or zoom into the image to get a good view of the subtleties. This painting belongs to a private collection.