Researching figures in interiors

The studio wall

‘The studio wall’ 1914, Daniel Garber source:

Garber seems to have painted mostly landscapes but  his figures are so beautiful, I stumbled over this one on pinterest and followed it up to see more. It gives a feeling of calm with the use of the pale colours, and the warm golden light coming in with the shadows on the wall, indicating an church-like window, and the pale wood of the seat is simple yet beautifully described. The woman seems to be wearing a kimono, which looks heavy, and is tending to a plant, I think. She is absorbed in her task. I love the pink and gold tones of this painting. I think Gerber intends his message to be calm, early morning contemplation.


Constantin Korovin. In Front of the Balcony: Leonora and Ampara. Detail. 1888-1889 source:

This may be only part of a larger painting; however I think Korovin has captured a moment between two women, They are enjoying spying down on something or somebody, and a joke or comment has passed between them. He has described this by the expressions on their faces, they are slightly amused and engrossed by what is passing.  He has used colour sparingly, it seems to be black, dark green and yellowish tones only and yet this works well even in the flesh tones as it is the light coming through the venetian type blinds that is lighting the scene. He is beautifully described the embroidery on the Spanish shawl. Somehow there seems to be more colour than there actually is; I note that he has achieved this with the details and the range of tones used.


‘Passengers’, 2009, Steven Assael. Oil on canvas (72×90 inches) source:

This realist painting shows three sleeping passengers on a train travelling through, I presume, an exotic location such as India. There is a lake, castle/temple and mountains outside visible through the train window and a couple of monkeys seem to be in the carriage with them. The three figures are so relaxed and asleep; their limbs are draped over each other, indicating a close relationships. Their clothes are casual and worn; the middle girl’s jeans are very ripped and it is obviously warm as they have bare limbs and are wearing sandles. The baggage rack is stuffed full and seems to be breaking. There is a sixties feeling to it with the clothes and hair. I like how he has captured the reflection of the sleeping man in the glass. The golden light outside is shinning on the skin tones and balances the painting out so beautifully. I feel this is a narrative picture that you could write a whole story around. I don’t know if the artist intended this but it also suggests a faded American flag to me with the colours.

I have not perhaps picked conventional figures in an interior for these 3 paintings; however they all appeal to me and speak to me and I will take something from each one. The Garber has taken the shadows on the wall as the focus; although the woman is beautiful he indicates with the title (The studio wall) his intention.  The Korovin shows me it is possible to capture a moment using very few colours and wonderful facial expressions.  The Assael teaches me what realism can be achieved with patience  and also what a story can be told from one captured moment.


Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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