Still Life, Still Lives

Pear 1 copyEvery Wednesday for one hour I sit at a yellow and grey leaf-patterned 1950s formica kitchen table, ready to meet the challenge.

In front of me is my late-in-life splurge, an Arches watercolor block. Next to that, my nearly four decade-old Pelikan pan of paints, my travel set of Windsor Newtons, my cup of tea, and subject matter that never in all my life had any appeal for me. Still life.

Normally possessed of a loose, gestural style, I find myself slowing down to contemplate the pores of a clementine, nicks in a bosc pear, age spots of an over-the-hill banana. The paper is teaching me how to respond, and, at least for now, I am held in a suspension of trepidation and awe. The fibers snag and grasp threads of color, pulling them into eddies and puddles that I navigate as best I can. I use no more than two brushes as oars on these serendipitous outings. Occasionally I drop one.

Why still life? It’s all been done, and better, both before and now: certainly Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet…and more recently, Donald Sultan and my friend Sally Sturman.

Perhaps I am taking the path of both least and most resistance. In Violet’s kitchen there is always fruit in the bowl. And in this obscenely-paced world, slowing down to contemplate a single sunflower is an act of not only defiance, but deliverance.

sunflower

tomatoes

pears copy

pomegranate lo-rez

pear half copy

all images copyright Sharon Watts 2013

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