Had I come across John Beder’s children’s book illustrations on their own, rather than finding them on his web site after seeing the realist still life paintings on his painting blog, I would not have thought them to be the work of the same artist.
His illustrations for children’s books are loose, almost roughly realized, and at times cartoonlike. His still life paintings, on the other hand are precise, detailed and contemplative. Both sides of his work show a fondness for bright colors.
His still life paintings are most often of arrangements of fruit. Though his subject matter and blog format shares some similarity with the blogs of many “painting a day” artists, it’s obvious at first glance that these paintings are the work of much longer painting sessions.
They are often wonderful explorations of the way light cascades across and wraps itself around the forms of the fruit, sometimes lighting them as if with an inner glow. The forms of individual grapes or the surfaces of plums are revealed with dedicated attention to the appearance of their textural and light reflective qualities.
In a number of paintings, Beder challenges himself with the rendering of the play of shadow and light across the complex folds of striped cloth, arranged as a backdrop to the still life, in what must be an very painstaking process.
As you might expect, Beder doesn’t post new paintings often. My one real disappointment, though, is that he doesn’t post larger versions of them. The “detail versions”, such as they are, are hardly larger than the images on the blog page; leaving you to imagine as best you can what the paintings might look like in person, as they are reasonably large, in the range of 30″x 20″ (75x50cm).