I learned a word — bodegón — the term for a type of 17th century Spanish still life featuring pottery, cookware, game, slabs of fish, fruits and vegetables, and the like depicted on a window sill, shelf, or sometimes in a box suspended with wire. The Wikipedia entry implies these paintings mainly exist to show off the artist’s mastery of rendering complex imagery - like shiny copper pots or delicate flowers. Maybe. These paintings are poetic and surreal. It’s hard to imagine them as simply an advertisement for a painter’s skill. But then again, it’s not like they had cameras on their smartphones.
“Dude, it looks like a melon, but it’s not a melon“
— Some guy in 17th century Spain, probably.
My art history coursework flew right past much of the post-renaissance and zoomed right to Impressionism so they could hurry up and get modernism out of the way and finally talk about the conceptual art that really mattered. So I never came across the term Bodegón until I found myself on Wikipedia reading the entry for “Painting”.
I was reading the entry for painting because I was thinking about traditional painting, digital “painting” (on my iPad), Rafaël Rozendaal’s websites, and flat SVG graphics and wondering if there was some sort of common element to all these things that made them all paintings. Is a painting made of strokes? Is that it? Well then that leaves out Rozendaal’s websites. But those feel like paintings even though they are wiggly HTML images and animations.
I scrolled through the Wikipedia entry looking for a hook into into this idea and then saw the word bogedón and then raced off to photograph an avocado on my countertop and then quickly paint it on my iPad.
In the process I found a decent way to solve the problem of using a reference photo in ProCreate.
Instead leaving a photo as a background and tracing over it - I placed the photo on a layer on its own, resized it to be about one quarter of the image size — and then moved the image from one corner to another while referencing it. ProCreate has a great non-destructive editing feature. If you scale an image down then scale it back up and no data is lost. This let me paint from the photo without simply tracing over it.