Tag Archives: still life

Consumptive Histories: Norah See

12 Nov

You can take the Art History major out of college, but you can’t take the Art History major out of the girl.  Yep, I still completely geek out on anything art historical, especially when it’s done in a dynamic way.  Enter Nora See, a New Orleans artist whose Reboot series elegantly repositions famous works of art as tiny trinkets, giving us a lesson in our history of consumption.

The Loss of Man, oil on canvas, 18×24

In her take on Rene Magritte’s Son of Man, Magritte’s infamous face obscuring green apple is replaced with the Apple computer logo, showing us a link between the advance of technology and the loss of human interaction, as well as a loss of our connection to our own selves outside of our technologically driven lives.

Portrait of Madame Y, oil on canvas, 18×24

Her Portrait of Madame Y reworks John Singer Sargent’s famous portrait into a modernized version of what a 19th century trophy wife might look like– fake tan, breast implants and all.

The Cliff, oil, ink, gold leaf and enamel on canvas, 18×24

Green Wall, oil on canvas, 18×24

To see more of Nora See’s work, please visit her website.  If you’re in New Orleans, her Reboot series can be seen at her representing NOLA gallery, Gallery Orange.

All images are via Nora See’s website.

Silent Visages: Courtney J. Garrett

1 Nov

There is something in the eyes of an animal that connects with us.  Their faces full of trust, loyalty and hopefulness can bring us peace in the midst of so many storms.  In her Equine & Herd series, Atlanta artist Courtney J. Garrett captures the tranquility of domestic animals, showing us the gentle spirit behind the bucolic.

The Little Foxes Turned and the Fields Stopped Bleeding No. 14, mixed media oil on birch wood with resin, 48×48

The Awakening, mixed media oil on birch wood with resin, 48×48

What is it about the presence of another species that seems to make life more bearable?  While we were living in Northern Idaho, a simple walk up to our mailbox, passing by the horse corral was enough to lift my spirits, as the horses trotted over to investigate.  Or even spotting a small bird flitting around city streets will instantly calm me.

The Little Foxes Turned and the Fields Stopped Bleeding No. 12, mixed media oil on birch wood with resin, 36×36

Perhaps we are envious of the simplicity of an animal’s life?  How they are provided for, whether by their human guardians or by the natural world surrounding them.  They’ve no need to fret over the presidential election, car payments, or forgetting to call on Mother’s Day.  They are happy merely to exist.

Free, mixed media oil on birch wood with resin, 60×60

Reconciliation No. 5, mixed media oil on birch wood with resin, 24×24

To see more of Courtney J. Garret’s work, please visit her website.

Artist found via Exhibit by Abersons, her representing gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

All images are via the artist’s website.

The Glory of Everyday Things: Marian Dioguardi

2 Jul

I am a firm believer is finding the beauty in life’s simple pleasures.  And don’t you find life more inspiring when you are able to delight in the things around you?  I love the way Boston artist Marian Dioguardi‘s paintings celebrate ordinary treasures.

Sitting Pretty in Turquoise, oil on cradled panel, 36×24

I am a nester.  I like to be surrounded by lovely things, things that carry meaning for me, objects that are not only functional but inspire me– whether through their color, design or the memories they hold.  Our current lifestyle means that we travel relatively light.  Most of my favorite things are in storage in Florida.  But there are pieces we travel with that make each place feel like home– my turquoise tea kettle, used every day to boil water for coffee, a framed photo from our wedding day, a small painting I did for George of Mt. Rainier.

My Little Cupcake, oil on cradled panel, 24×36

Whenever we reach a new place, it begins to feel like home once I hang the pictures, place the tea kettle on the stove.  Their presence is comforting, reassuring.. they are constants in a life that is ever changing.

Inner Glow- Citrine, oil on cradled panel, 30×30

One day, we’ll dig our feet in and put down roots.  And all my every day treasures will come home with me, filling a new home with the love and beauty and memories they carry.  There will also be new treasures, ones that George & I will find together through our travels and one day, they’ll remind us of what an amazing life it has been.

Simplicity Itself, oil on cradled panel, 4 panels at 5×5 each

To see more of Marian Dioguardi’s work, please visit her website.  What about you?  Do you have any cherished every day treasures?

Featured image is Sitting Pretty in Turquoise, oil on cradled panel, 36×24.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Botanic Modern: Jennifer Bain

30 May

One of the things I love about my husband is how excited he gets about wildflowers.  He is the manliest of men, but when spring arrives, he begins the hunt for perfumed beauties.  Our camera card gets filled with glorious specimens to remember and identify.  We joyfully observe butterflies and bees making their rounds, testing each bud.  Artist Jennifer Bain shares our fascination with the beauty that awaits just outside our windows.

Regeneration, mixed media on panel, 24×24

Like yesterday’s artist, Charlene Liu, Bain takes the traditional floral still life and reinvents it.  Each work may contain a few realistic portrayals of birds or flowers, but it is the juxtaposition of more contemporary, silhouetted elements and textile-like patterns that give these pieces post-modern punch.

Uphill Climb, mixed media on panel, 12×12

The simple linear shapes give the work a fleeting, unfinished quality which creates a beautifully dynamic tension between those and the more detailed elements.

Seekers, mixed media on panel, 36×48

Butterflies and birds flit across each piece, seeming to be drunk on loveliness.  Like the butterflies, I too, would love to dance among these beauties.

Pretty Bird, mixed media on panel, 36×48

Swallowtail, mixed media on panel, 18×24

To see more of Jennifer Bain’s work, please visit her website.  Oh and Jennifer is another artist represented by Skidmore Contemporary.  I told you they had great taste!

PS– Didn’t realize when scheduling these posts that I featured two floral artists within two days.  I’m interested to hear your takes on both!

Featured image is Seekers, mixed media on panel, 48×36.  All images are via the Skidmore Contemporary website.

Abandoned Memories: Erin Payne

26 Mar

I can sort of relate to Linus van Pelt, of Peanuts fame.  I have a favorite blanket, too.  It was never a security blanket of the type that is carried around and a meltdown ensues when it is forgotten, lost or laundered.  But rather, I have a blanket ( quilt, actually ) given to me by my grandmother that is a repository of memories and is one of my prized possessions.  I imagine Los Angeles artist Erin Payne understands emotional connections to a cherished textile.

Ice Pile, oil on canvas, 72x72

In her Piles series, Payne sets up still lifes constructed of heaps of blankets, sheets, tablecloths and other household fabrics set against landscaped dioramic backgrounds, forever memorializing these stacks on canvas.  Just as I find comfort in the warmth of my grandmother’s quilt, both physically and emotionally, so do many once ordinary items become cherished vessels of remembrance.

Spire, oil on canvas, 30x30

But what happens when the person most connected to those memories is gone?  The beloved item may be forgotten, thrown out or given away, becoming a hollow receptacle, now ready to be imprinted upon by a new owner.

Aspens With Wet Pile, oil on wood panel, 36x36

Will their new keeper appreciate the past life of an object that may be a bit worn?  Will they even give thought to whose history this article has been a part of?

Dune, oil on canvas, 24x24

See You Later, oil on canvas, 24x24

I hope my grandmother’s blanket will be with me, reminding me of sniffles comforted and snuggles under a reading lamp.  But even if it somehow finds its way out of my grasp, I hope the love that it carries radiates from its worn threads.  To see more of Erin Payne’s work, please visit her website.

Featured image is Pile 4, acrylic on canvas, 24×24.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Divine Delights: Olga Antonova

31 Jan

I’m a firm believer that anything you eat will taste better served on pretty china or a lovingly decorated table.  The work of Russian born artist Olga Antonova celebrates these every day objects, elevating them using her technical prowess tinged with a hint of charm and whimsy.

Stacked Cups With Yellow Top, oil on canvas, 22x24 ( via Selby Fleetwood Gallery )

The delicate porcelain vessels are stacked, one on top of each other, creating dainty monuments of indulgence.  Tea or coffee sipped from colorful china induces us to have a seat, slow down, have a leisurely chat.  Antonova’s work does the same, creating a calm sense of elegant consumption.

Red and Blue Teacups, oil on canvas, 16x16 ( via Gallery Henoch )

Her depictions of the smooth, shiny surfaces and colorful patterns make me want to fall down a rabbit hole and crash a tea party hosted by a bunny with a crazy chapeau.

Composition With Dragon Pot, oil on canvas, 20x20 ( via Gallery Henoch )

Composition With Pink Cup, oil on canvas, 28x26 ( via Gallery Henoch )

To see more of Olga Antonova’s work, please visit her website or the websites of her representing galleries or check them out in person, if you can at — Gallery Henoch in New York, Selby Fleetwood Gallery in Santa Fe, Beth Urdang Gallery in Boston, Gardner Colby Gallery in Naples and Rice Polak Gallery in Provincetown, MA.

Featured image is Composition With Cups, oil on canvas, 30×15.

Portrait of Things Already Come

5 Jan

We are a world that loves stuff.  One look at the tv show Hoarders will confirm that, as human beings, we develop emotional and psychological attachments to objects.  Certain things may represent for us the physical manifestation of the memory of a time, a place, a relationship.  Canadian artist Christopher Stott celebrates this connection by elevating every day objects to the subject of portraiture.

Good Times, oil on canvas, 30x30

Stott takes simple objects, isolating them against a neutral, traditionally lit backdrop, he treats them his subjects tenderly, as another portrait artist might portray the innocence of a child or quiet strength of a grandmother.

GE Vintage Electric Fan, oil on canvas, 22x28

Compositions containing multiple objects take on an interesting dynamic– they seem to communicate, to regard and relate to each other in an almost human-like way.

Candlestick Phone and Electric Fan, oil on canvas, 24x24

Remington, Overwhelmed, oil on canvas, 36x24

By choosing subjects with an already inherent history, the artist celebrates the lives of these every day objects– the people they have served, the differences they may have made to a human life, the treasured memories that may be associated with their torn pages and chipped paint.

Baggage, oil on canvas, 30x30

To see more of Christopher Stott’s work, please visit his website.  Maybe these portraits will inspire you to look at your “stuff” a bit differently!

Featured image is Quartet, oil on canvas, 48×24.  All images are via the artist’s website

Artsy on Escape Into Life: Mia Brownell

20 Dec

Can’t believe I almost forgot to let you all know about my post today over at Escape Into Life!  Better late than never, I suppose.. Be sure to click on over there and check out today’s feature on artist Mia Brownell.  I think you’ll find her work as intriguing as I did!

Still Life with Villin Headpiece, oil on canvas, 56x42

Mia Brownell on Escape Into Life

Loneliness and Loveliness: Holly Farrell

12 Dec

I have a weakness for objects with a past.  Everyday pieces from days gone by hold the  untold stories of a person, a family , a home.  Toronto artist Holly Farrell’s paintings of vintage objects explore this sense of nostalgia for days gone by, while also having a strong, strikingly melancholy visual impact.

Bowl, acrylic and oil on masonite, 18x14

The self-taught artist isolates her subjects, often with a muted, neutral background, taking a bit out of their normal context, emphasizing their design and calling our attention to their forsaken state.

Couch, acrylic and oil on masonite, 28x18

These are works that are wryly reverent.  Remember that hideous sofa in Grandma’s living room?  It is now immortalized on canvas, forlornly longing for the days when grandchildren used to bounce and play on it’s floral-covered cushions.

Mugs, acrylic and oil on masonite, 12 @ 7x8 each

Colorful Fire King mugs, which once warmed young hands and tummies with hot cocoa are now another kind of “mug shot”… snapshot compositions feel like they could be the sales photos for an eBay or Craigslist ad.  Going once, going twice.. sold.

Ken and Barbie dolls, once beloved playtime companions now seem vacant and distant.

Kens, acrylic and oil on masonite, 4 @ 12x14 each

Barbie, acrylic and oil on masonite, 12x14

Though there can be a definite sadness surrounding some of Holly Farrell’s work, it is tempered with charm and joy.  Just as our memories should be.  To see more of Holly’s work, please visit her website. On her website, not only will you find more deliciously intriguing work, but also a list of galleries in the US and Canada where you can see them live and in person.

** Thank you to The Jealous Curator for the introduction to Holly Farrell’s work via her post on SF Girl By Bay!

Featured image is Books, acrylic and oil on masonite.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Soulful Accoutrements: Gabriel Fernandez

8 Aug

I’m a sucker for furniture.  I love the mixture of function and design.  And paintings of furniture?  Well, those hold a special place for me as I went through my own “chair” phase while I was studying painting in college.  So when I spotted the work of Gabriel Fernandez at Guardino Gallery in Portland this weekend, he had me at hello.

Eichler Book on Table, oil on canvas, 24x36

Fernandez creates scenes using furniture as another artist might use human models.  He sets the stage to tell a story, of a moment that just happened or is about to occur.  His compositions focus on the beauty of the objects themselves, the lives that they have led.. maybe an interesting life in a public place or a spiritless existence in a warehouse.

Orange Chair In Front of Radiator, oil on canvas, 25x21

The artist seems to be exploring the relationship of the objects to their environment, as an important player in a larger scene.  His use of light and shadow create a sense of emotion and mood, keeping the images from becoming mere still lifes, but instead imbuing them with a sense of story.

Coos Bay Laundromat, oil on wood, 14x19.25Green Chair With Three Suitcases, oil on canvas, 20x22 Green Chair With Three Suitcases, oil on canvas, 20x22

These are objects with soul, with personality, experience.  A past, a present and a future.

Green Chair With Three Suitcases, oil on canvas, 20x22

To see more of Gabriel Fernandez’s work, visit his website.  Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in or near Portland, OR, drop by the Guardino Gallery in the Alberta Arts District.

All images are courtesy of the artist’s website.

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