Still Life with Practice Guilt




The more I paint, the more I realize that it all comes down to a study, appreciation, and obsession with light. Whether in still life or portrait, realist painting is an act of attunement with something or someone we may see every day but not necessarily think to delve into. It is not about the illusion of dimension, but a celebration. Even a simple study becomes its own theology—to look hard enough at what is is to engage with its sublimity. This engagement is no more apparent to me than in the painting of a portrait. Here there are so many levels that must be attuned to—not just the light without and the tones and subtle color plays that it makes, but the light within, the irreplaceable spark that makes each person an individual.

I am particularly intrigued by the space of extreme solitude in between a musician and his or her music. Music is such a public art, yet the musician in the act of creating is at once attuned to the music around her yet completely isolated within. There is a similar unspoken space created by the visual relationship between two figures, whether it be the musician and his music or the farmer with his cow—even within the lone mind. Here there is not just the light without and the light within, but a third factor, far too easy to miss lost among the mundane, of that creative force that exists within and between us.

…And then there is frosting. No matter the depths to which I bring the more reverential of my works, I can never resist the luminous curves of well-piped frosting, and have despite myself begun to embark on what is at the same time a visual feast, a celebration of dessert, and a playful admission of my own sometimes fraught relationship to food.