My fourth still life at GCA!
"Scurvy." Oil on panel.
This painting was inspired by the history of scurvy, a disease of vitamin C deficiency. Scurvy was a huge problem for sailors and explorers throughout history. Lack of fresh food on long voyages or during long blockades in battles lead to the disease, one of the symptoms of which was loss of teeth. Though some people had noticed that having their sailors eat lemons prevented the disease, many confounding factors created confusion about the cause of scurvy and it wasn’t understood to be due to a vitamin deficiency until the 1930’s. (British sailors still got scurvy drinking lime juice because it was processed in such a way that destroyed the vitamin C content, and some explorers who ate no fruits or vegetables but ate only fresh meat didn’t get scurvy because fresh meat has vitamin C, for example).
Though my original conception centered around lemons, limes, teeth, and a ship’s porthole, throughout the course of paintingI realized a sub-theme was wear and tear — the mold and rust on the porthole, the scrapes on the painted metal background, and the metal crowns on the teeth. This was unintentional but I like how it parallels the wear and tear our bodies undergo with disease.
I learned so much about how to paint texture with this still life that I’m not happy with how it looks now — current Sally can paint way better than the past Sally that did this still life! In a soundbite, surface texture can’t be copied visually, but has to be conceptualized as form — the scrapes on the painted metal appeared to be a uniform color in life, but only looked “real” when I gave them a particular shading in the painting. And the cracks and dimples on the glass, though they appeared in life like little dots of white, only looked “real” in my painting when I made one side of the crack light and the other dark, the way the light would catch a dimple on a golf ball (sorry you can’t see that much detail in my horrible photos).