John Morfis still life painting of shears

Shears Painting


I was visiting my friend Darren in Lambertville, New Jersey when I stopped by a flea market and came across this old snip tool.  Snips, shears, whatever we want to call tools like this is irrelevant to me.  What’s important is an item I can make a beautiful, work of art from.  These shears certainly fit the bill.

They had a great patina complete with the signs of old warn red paint.  You can see this most prominently near the stamped indentation on the shaft arms in between the finger holes and the cutting mechanism.  The indentations read “forged” and “7 inch” by the way.

Often I leave out words in my paintings but these were an interesting part of the tool.  Writing on things especially tools usually look a bit hokey and is often the fastest way to an amateurish painting, but in this specific instance I rather liked the simple marking indicating the shears manufacturing technique and size.

I love painting old metals and I’ve gotten quite fast at painting them.  Because I’ve spent years painting all kinds of antique tools these usually give me little to no trouble.  And this painting was no exception.  It was easy to paint once I had an accurate drawing to build upon.  The key is starting with an accurate drafting of the subject.

The colors are very neutral.  I mix up paint strings usually around 5 values to start and will mix some in between colors on the fly.  But I typically start with a few paint strings that all hang around very close to neutral.  You can see some areas in which I push the neutral colors a bit closer to orange.  The blades of the shears is a good example of this.  These are extremely subtle shifts for sure, as they go almost overlooked.

Though, this is one of my favorite parts of being a painter working in the realism tradition and that’s the fact that I have to observe all of these visual nuances.  It’s a virtuous cycle of sorts…

The more I see,

the more I appreciate,

and the more I appreciate,

the more I want to see!


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