A social media post by another artist this week prompted me to ponder the origin of the term still life. The Met defines a still life as a glorification of everyday life—of "the home and personal possessions, commerce, trade, and learning." The still life emerged as a genre...

Inspiration is for amateurs. — Chuck Close Old objects and the personal memories associated with them inspire most of my paintings. I'm content to call it nostalgia. Like weight-gain, nostalgia is an affliction of the aged and can rapidly get out of hand. I especially loathe the kind that...

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. — Henry David Thoreau This week I had to print my Artist Statement for an exhibition and wondered whether it was up to date. I'd put a lot of work into it last year (as did...

Attention is the beginning of devotion. — Mary Oliver Oil paint was made for depicting flesh. — Willem DeKooning Compared to, say, watching a fireworks display, painting is a decidedly jumbled way of perceiving. Watching fireworks is just that—watching. Eyeballing a show, a spectacle, a rebus (from the Latin non...

Humanity is not produced by the way our eyes are implanted in us. — Maurice Merleau-Ponty Writing in The New Yorker this week, art critic Peter Schjeldahl says of Cezanne, "He revolutionized visual art, changing a practice of rendering illusions to one of aggregating marks that cohere...

The true use of art is to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature. — George Inness The 19th century American art movement known as Tonalism celebrated gentle tones, soft edges, atmosphere, and “the reality of the unseen.” Americans fell in love with it in the aftermath of the Civil...

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past. — William Faulkner I love to paint stoneware crocks. Their chunky, chilly corporality reminds me of granite markers and monuments, the steadfast avatars of past lives. And their rootedness in the earth—crocks being made of dirt, a literal rootedness—lend them...

Painting a "picture" is meaningless. One paints beauty. — David Leffel In perhaps my favorite semester of college, I took a philosophy course on beauty. Philosophers call the study of beauty "aesthetics" and for 2,500 years have  argued over aesthetics questions like "does a painting actually exist?" and...

Whatever the objects of his attention, the painter will not make them say what they are without thereby learning what he is. — Jean-Paul Sartre Just when I think I've about had it with party strife, microbes, blizzards, intolerance and inequality, painting comes along to pick me up. Still-life...

In every moment, in every thing, eternity is present. — Wols Painting trains you to find the "ungraspable abstract" in things, the eternal forms obscured by ordinary perception, and to render them as your emotions dictate. It's both those qualities—the eternal and the emotional—that make good paintings so...