My life as an artist, married to an artist, is a beautiful thing. We look at the clouds when we are driving somewhere. We notice how the late afternoon light hits the trees around us at the golden hour. We are always looking for subjects to paint.
However, as a still life painter I sometimes struggle with inspiration. I can spend days setting up a still life, adding objects, moving them around, changing the light, trying different background colors and still be uninspired. As a rule, I don't start painting until the setup makes me smile, laugh, or a wacky title pops into my head.
The upside to this struggle is that we are always looking for new still life objects. We visit antique shops in every town we visit anywhere we are in the world. The great thing about still life hunting as opposed to antique shopping is that you can find gems in every corner. It doesn't have to go with your collection, it doesn't have to look good on your mantle, it doesn't even have to make sense. I look for objects based on size, shape, color, uniqueness, paint-ability, pattern, patina, constructibility, and rustiness. Our studios are adorned with the most beautiful assemblage of whimsy imaginable. Shelves full of bottles, cups, vases, bones, toys, tools, ribbons, hats, shells, and on and on. They are loosely organized by color, material, purpose or whether they need to be propped up by something else to keep them on the shelf. Things are in the closets, under the tables, in the corners, on display in various rooms in the house, in bins, in boxes, paint brushes are stored in them, they are used as door stops, and they are collecting that wondrous gray blue dust!
What is the point of all of this, well, the last object hunt we went on was at the Neato Outlet in Boyce, VA. If you need a 500 pound hippopotamus for your front yard, they have several to choose from. We were hunting smaller game on our visit. We spent several hours looking at every item in the place gathering little piles of potential quarry for later revue. We ended up buying 8 to 10 random objects of glass, silver-plate, rusty stuff, and the subject of the painting below.
|"The Plane, The Plane", 11"x14", oil on linen, Steven J Parrish copyright.|