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Still life

"Apples and Kettle"                                          18"x14"

Now that autumn leaves have fallen and the days are gray and blustery, I find myself in the studio painting still lifes.  My experience has been that artists are not neutral about their feelings for still lifes:  they either love them or they hate them.  One artist recently blogged that the reason for his distaste for still lifes was the fact that they can be seen simply as decorative art.  This can certainly be said of a lot of modern day still lifes, but the same can also be said of a lot of landscape and figurative work produced today.  I approach a still life as I would a plein air painting:  I'm looking at and being true to form, light, and color.  When I'm choosing a subject or painting a still life I'm not worrying whether or not it’s going to match someone's sofa.
In my never-ending pursuit of excellence I look at a lot of paintings in books, magazines, museums, and the internet.  I find great inspiration in what other artists have done before me, and I'd like to share a little of that inspiration.  Two still life artists who’s work I can’t get enough of are Danish immigrant Soren Emil Carlsen (1853-1932) and his son Dines Carlsen.  Both were prolific still life painters and, as you can see from the examples of their work below, they had a very similar approach to painting.  These paintings are very straight forward with no cutesy or unnecessary fluff.  I really connect with the simplicity of the objects' placement, and how the light on the objects creates a positive and negative spacial pattern that is pure poetry.

Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Soren Emil Carlsen                                                     Dines Carlsen



5 Responses to Still life

Ruth Andre
via richardoversmith.com54 months ago

Congratulations on your new blog. Your new work looks wonderful.

Jenny M Wilson
via richardoversmith.com52 months ago

I don't know just how I came across your site but I really like all of your Landscapes! I also read your "blog".It's rare that I like all of someones landscapes. I'm 82and 3/4 so I've seen many landscapes . I am also a "sometime" painter. I have spent the last few years looking after my husband of 58 years and have now lost him so I am going to go back to painting. I have painted over the years and like a few landscapes and a few still lives that I've done. Have you ever been to New Mexico ? There is much to paint here !!If you come,I probably can give you a place to stay.Let me know ! Jenny Wilson 505-280-4156

Joy Handelman
via richardoversmith.com49 months ago

The May Workshop on Roanoke Island sounds wonderful!!! From having been to your workshop in February, I know it will be very, very valuable for anyone who takes their painting seriously and it will be a lot of fun as well! I wish I could get to NC for May! My best critics say they see a "good" difference in my work already. Happy Painting!

Rebecca Neef
via richardoversmith.com30 months ago

You are so right about this, people either feel that they love still life or they hate them. However, I find that the people who love them are those who have actually made a point of seeking them out, studying different still life painters' approaches, looking into the history of the genre or whatever. Those who think they hate them usually haven't "gotten to know them," making their judgements based on those awful Chianti-bottle paintings of the 1970's or something their Auntie painted.
All I am saying, is give Still Life a chance...!
BTW, the Carlsens are 2 of my favorite still life painters as well. The nailed the way to give the genre the quiet, almost mystical air it has at its best.

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