Well this is the final painting in my series of three for the vanitas still life’s. I really enjoyed working within this theme but at times I had difficulty selecting objects for these paintings.
Vanitas are rich in their symbolism. I think that’s part of what drew me to learn more about the genre in general. Most of them I find a bit on the dark side which makes sense in terms of what they are prompting the viewer to consider. Which is the transitory nature of life and mortality.
For this painting I liked the vase but had trouble deciding if I wanted to add flowers. Ultimately, I chose some dried large weeds that I found on a walk at the end of November. I really liked their shape and muted wood tone hue which I modified and made a bit more colorful. Choosing the dried weeds for me were relevant to mortality and the impermanence of life , classic underpinnings in a vanitas still life.
As the composition developed, I welcomed incorporating a geometric influence in the background. The silhouettes of the shadows and drapes in the folds of the fabric added a nice abstract element. The insertion and exaggeration of the shadows for me allude to the darker, mournful sides of life we all experience and although are not typical symbols I felt a relevance in meaning within the overall context.
Lastly, the glass bottles came in because of their apothecary nature. Often vanitas paintings will include reference to education, science and the arts which in this context are indicative of earthly achievements. Such references are frequently included in traditional versions of this genre and point toward the ephemeral nature of life.
There’s a lot to more to this genre of painting. If you are interested in learning more click here.