Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Chameleon Couch

She Turned Away, Hiding Her Grin, 16 x 12 inches, oil on linen

I started this one with a model, working from observation for the first three hours. Notice the couch is blue - it's the same couch as the one seen in the last post, and in many others I've posted in the last few years. The actual couch is gray. I just make it different colors, largely on whim. Sometimes I cover it with colored (or not) fabric to get a feel for the color environment, but often I just respond to the color scheme that I've decided on at the start of the painting.

The shape of the couch varies in my paintings also. I can change the height of the couch back, whether it's straight, curved, or irregularly shaped.  It's not a big deal, really. The arms of the couch (not shown in this painting) are a little trickier to invent and transform, but with careful attention to perspective and with a little practice, that too, is doable.  If you want authenticity of style or detail,  of course the best thing to do is to get the furniture you actually need and set it up properly. But as you can plainly see in my case, the specifics of the furniture isn't what I'm after. 

The more generic the furniture, the easier it is to morph into something that works for many paintings. 

Having been an illustrator for many years, I'm comfortable working this way. Of course it doesn't always work out the way I envisioned, but the process of trying to get it right and failing at it, sometimes gives me pleasantly unexpected results. And sometimes it blows up in my face. But that's life~

The main thing is that I get the pose and the gesture that works. The edge of the seat, in this particular painting, has to be pretty convincing in terms of responding to gravity, and that's not made up, but if you notice that the two sides plunge towards the legs in slightly different angles? That is designed, not observed. So little things like that need to be considered everywhere if a painting were to be composed.  Mindlessly copying what we see, even if accurately done, will only give us an imitation of reality, lacking in artist's intent and expression. I think many a realist painters may disagree with me, but if you ask the best of them, they will tell you that good painting is not achieved by merely noodling the hell out of whatever they're trying to depict. 

But that's another day's topic. The following are a bunch of paintings featuring the same couch.


  1. Fantastic works, Terry!

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for showing how you creatively use that couch to craft some of your works! Impressive!

  2. Teriffic post - gives me a kick up the bum to not just draw what I see....

  3. Man, I have got to lose more edges- beautiful stuff.

  4. Beautiful. I like it! Kind of Lucian Freud.


  5. Lovely work Terry. I adore the second one from the bottom. I couldn't stop looking at it! What a simple and graceful composition.

    1. Thanks Kelli! This one actually has a little more paint on it now, but I didn't get a chance to take a photo before it went out to a show. Hate it when I forget little administrative things like that. I need an assistant!!

  6. They're all winners. Excellent use of positive and negative shape. Looks like you're using quite large brushes?

  7. I also really really love the second one from the bottom. I think its excellent.