The Homely Art of Still Life

July 20, 2016

Watercolor painting of hydrangeas

Watercolor painting of hydrangeas

Another watercolor study

Another watercolor study

“Still life is a minor art, and one with a residue of didacticism that will never bleach out; a homely art.  From the artist’s point of view, it has always served as a contemplative form useful for working out ideas, color schemes, opinions.  It has the same relation to larger, more ambitious paintings as the sonnet to the long poem. . . . Still life has been a kind of recreation, a jeu d’sprit, for painters.”
— Guy Davenport, Objects on a Table: Harmonious Disarray

I can see Davenport’s point of view about still life painting.  I see my efforts to translate what I see into a painting on paper as beginner’s marks, trying to understand what works and what doesn’t.  I don’t feel ready for more ambitious compositions, and that’s why I chose to paint just a single or a few objects.  I still love messing about, trying to improve.  Occasionally I surprise myself with something that I actually like.  Maybe if these happy surprises occurred more frequently, I would be ready to challenge myself to larger subjects.  I’m not there yet!  So I’ll stick with “homely art” for a while.





One Response to “The Homely Art of Still Life”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I usually appreciate the quotations you offer, but I’ve already found five things to disagree with, without more than a cursory glance. This especially set my teeth on edge: “It has the same relation to larger, more ambitious paintings as the sonnet to the long poem.”
    Mr. Davenport should try writing a sonnet. Different does not mean inferior. 🙂

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