Influences (Giorgio Morandi)

Don Farrell - Soaking Pan - 1999 - 25 x 30 cm - 10 x 12 in - egg tempera

I had the pleasure of seeing a retrospective of Morandi’s work in London a few years ago and he has stayed with me ever since. In particular, I was impressed with his spatial considerations and how he expressed them in his still lifes.

I was thinking of my response to his considerations when I made the above painting of my soaking pan. My goal was to create a harmonious spacial feeling through the arrangement of rectangles.

Now, using an influence doesn’t make things easy. For example, with Soaking Pan, which has a rectangular motif, I had difficulty keeping the painting from feeling static.

I had started by supporting the soaking pan with a similar shape above it on the wall. This supporting shape then takes the eye to the small dark square at the top, ensuring the viewer takes in all of the painting. The colour value of this square then takes your eye to the sketch pad before returning you to the front of the soaking pan. (The three sketches also harmonize with the front of the soaking pan, but are more supportive.)

So many rectangles leave the image static if left completely on their own. There is the wonderful little angle on the table which appeared accidentally and stayed, but this was still straight, and I needed more.

To refine and resolve this composition, I added the white line at the bottom right which takes you across the front of the table to the right edge of the soaking pan. This provides an integrating movement for the painting, which works well, but the painting still felt unresolved.

Soaking Pan – detail

I fussed and fumbled for a few days, and then one morning, I scratched an oval in the soaking pan and got that special feeling you get when you know you’ve finally succeeded. Even though the mark is subtle, it was enough, and the composition was complete.

Giorgio Morandi - Still Life - 1959 - 30 x 35 cm - 12 x 14 in - oil on canvas


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *