oil paint Senses Still Life story studio

Darker Than December

Darker Than December

Andrew Graham Dixon had a wonderful documentary on BBC4 the other evening, about Still Life – Apples, Pears and Paint: How to Paint a Still Life Painting: What with that, and the terrible storms now battering Ireland, this painting I did back in the winter of 2010 came to mind.

pencil drawing of mangoes in a glass bowl with a Foxford blanket

I started it on new year’s day 2010 with a sketch, intending it to capture the luxuries and necessities we have to make it through cold winter. I did a miniature colour study to using colouring pencil.

study in colouring pencil for picture 'Darker than December'
Study for ‘Darker than December’ in colouring pencil

That year was a year of terrible floods in England.

It was the coldest winter for 100 years and it was so so dark in my little room I could barely see to paint. Each day got darker despite the passing of winter solstice. I listened to Stevie Wonder and worked, and worked. Towards the end of January, I saw a painting emerge. I took a tube of cobalt violet, a coarse difficult paint of it’s self, and used it to brush the bloom on the fruit – and there the thing was finished.

I call it Darker Than December, and even the title brings my mind straight back.

Later, that year I presented it for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, sadly it was declined. I’ll submit another work this year. Hope springs eternal as they say.