I set up elaborate still lifes for paintings. Even when I’m painting something else, it’s fun to see the still life sitting there on the table. I think to myself that everyone ought to have a still life table for the fun of having the things to look at and to put into interesting arrangements — whether you’re an artist doesn’t matter. Rearranging the items on the still life table could become a catalyst for rearranging things in your life (I’ve heard of some kinds of psychotherapy that use a similar tactic). Or maybe it’s something to do to nurture one’s inner decorator or architect.
In truth, though, everyone already has still lifes arranged all throughout their houses. We just don’t call them by that name. The shelf where I keep still life objects is a still life set up in its own right. I put the things on the shelf in ways that cram as many items on the shelf as possible, but the arrangement has its own unintended charm. I should paint that some time. And everyone has a corner of a room — kitchens are notorious — where a bunch of things sit in haphazard arrangements that echo the things’ uses in the lives of the home’s inhabitants. Other places to find the wonderful, revealing haphazard still life include the insides of closets, the work desk, the bathroom shelf, inside cabinets and spaces under beds.
All those compartments have a beautiful charm — are like entries in a diary telling us truths about the quiet spaces of living.
Flowers are a traditional subject, however, in traditional still lifes and so I paint them often. Moreover the flowers are organic in form and thus connect the inside and outside worlds. Nature made the flowers (and the gourd too in this still life above) and human beings made the rest in the still life above with the striped cloth.
17 x 23 inches, pastel on sanded paper, available.