Over the centuries, still-life and object painting have always done more than depict something as it is. The subjects in the images can tell a story, represent an idea and be used as symbols.
As I hunt around for objects to add to my collection, I always make sure that they somehow fit into the narrative I am pursuing in my overall work. For example, in the painting “Still & Moving,” I have a still camera and an 8mm film camera — one takes still images, the other moving. Anyone who has been using social media for the last decade knows that the advances in cameras have shifted us from still images to videos. Instagram, an app that initially was about sharing photos of what you were doing at the moment, used heavy filters to “age” the images and make them appear aged and somehow “authentic.” But now, here we are, with Instagram becoming all about the moving pictures. We have entered the phase of brief and trivial videos that one can sit and view for eternity.
As someone who has used social media in all its forms over the last 20 years, I have often wondered if I will eventually be left out as I feel no need to move on to the next iteration. You are reading this on my blog that I have published since 2007 — an ancient medium as far as many would be concerned.
I draw inspiration from my work from centuries ago (see the last post), so I have a bit of a “long view” of what I am doing with my work. Focusing on the minutiae of now isn’t my game.
These two paintings will be part of my upcoming exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles.
After several months of steady work, I have completed 22 new paintings that I have started shipping to the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles for my upcoming solo exhibition that goes up on February 26 and runs through March 26. So you’ll be reading and seeing plenty from me now that the hard work is done.
I have been painting still life for over twenty years now. So much of what I do is honestly about making a balanced, crisp, clean composition of objects to entice the simple act of observation. I use the opportunity to paint to make something delightful and pleasing. Not only for myself but for other people to enjoy as well. I have always drawn my inspiration from the long-established still-life painting tradition, which was first introduced in the form we know today by the French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin in the 18th century.
I could take a deep dive into the significance of Charin’s paintings to the world we live in, not just in art, but in all things, but I’ll spare you for now.
Instead, I want to show how I draw inspiration and remix the visuals he introduced centuries ago. His painting depicts “the attributes of the arts” — his palette and brushes on top of a box of paints, a plaster cast used to practice drawing, books with instructions and inspiration, and an award given to him for his accomplishments.
In my work, I use the propped books as Chardin did, but I have pencil crayons. Specifically, they are Laurentien pencil crayons which are an iconic part of a Canadian child’s early school experience. These were my introduction to the possibilities of art-making. My work is high-key (bright and airy) compared to the dark and shadowed Chardin visual world.
And here is the painting, varnished, framed and ready to ship to Los Angeles. Shown here along with another smaller painting (Trophy / 16 x 12 inches / oil on canvas / 2021) which is my nod to the rewarding life that painting has given me.