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

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