Christmas Ornament Still Life #1

Over the holidays I went home for Christmas. Unfortunately I had a bad head cold during the trip, so I spent most of my time at my parent's house. I used the time to sketch some of my mother's fantastic Christmas ornaments, which I've posted here previously. I thought they;d make for cure paintings though, so after I got back to Roswell I started to take the first of these still lifes to the next level.

I started by drawing a color sketch that would be used as a model for the final painting. It's less accurate than the original drawing in terms of how the ornaments looked, but I was mostly interested in recapturing the colors of the objects.
As you can see, the ornaments themselves are strongly based in the primary color spectrum, which was one of these reasons why I liked this first pairing. Primary colors are commonly associated with bright harmonies and balance, and often yield a sense of warmth, simplicity, and completeness. That sense of harmony to me embodies the holiday spirit at its best, and a more subconscious level is something I know many people across the country have craving during the last couple of weeks.

With the original sketch and color drawing in hand, I moved on to the actual painting. In some of my recent works I've been using canvas, but this time I decided to use a leftover clayboard panel from an unfinished project so that I could compare the two surfaces. At 4" x 6", the composition would be an intimate one, but then again, so are Christmas ornaments.

 On the first night I did a little underpainting, but I kept it pretty minimal this time.
By the second night I started adding color, and went on adding layers of glazes to flesh out the forms. The painting was nearly finished within a week, but a second bad head cold slowed me down.

As with another painting, I had though about leaving the background white, but ultimately decided to go with a gray background. I put a slight purple emphasis in the gray to contrast with the yellow tones of the bird ornament.
The next night I added more depth by painting the top half of the painting a darker gray, slowly letting it fade out into the lighter gray on the bottom.
Finally, I added a few final details to complete the work:
For me, this is a symbolic still life. By putting the ornaments against a neutral background, I removed them from their original context. Their setting is timeless, removed from the mundane everyday. The ornaments in this painting represent the concept of Christmas and other holidays, the ideas of family, social harmony, and so forth. That concept can never fully exist in real life though, as we all know how stressful and aggravating the holidays can actually be. As a result, these ornaments exist in an imaginative realm, reminding us that ideas rarely fully translate into tangible reality. We can definitely come close, but concept and object are rarely one and the same.