The work in this exhibition represents a range of vision and style, but all of it has in common a focus on simple objects, carefully observed, in either a studio or imaginary setting. Still life has the advantage of being easy to set up at home, and this Covid year all of my students worked remotely, in locations that included San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland, as well as Seattle. With the magic of Zoom, we were able to share work remotely, and Atelier critiques were done using digital painting tools, with images flying back and forth via email.
Still life has always been a mainstay of artistic practice, offering as it does the opportunity to explore pictorial elements like color, composition, and execution. Students can set up their scenarios as a director might create a theatrical presentation, and the only limits of those of a painter’s imagination. Several of the works imagine the still life in a landscape setting, here inspired by masterworks borrowed for the occasion. Other still lives include objects that are linked by a narrative or utilitarian intention – garden tools, art supplies, family heirlooms.
When successful, still life can elevate their humble subjects into something that makes us want to stop and look much more carefully at objects we would have otherwise ignored or taken for granted. The process of creating these still lives gave each artist an insight into the way careful observation can be transformational; when successful a still life painting can have a similar impact on the viewer.