Still Life

A Note on Teddy Bears

The plush anthropomorphic animal has an instinctual appeal. Representing safety, solace, and sanctuary, the soft familiar shapes easily acquire the status of quasi-companion, for persons of any age. The adult attraction for the stuffed animal is the promise/hope of innocence and wonder which endures, despite the passage of time and the accrual of experience inherent in being alive.

In the documentary ‘Half of the Sky’, in a shelter for abused women and children in a 3rd world country, there were stuffed animals all over the rooms. Not toys in general, or dolls or trucks, —brightly colored, soft plush animals. Tiny embodiments of safety amid a torrent of dread.

I have seen some art work which focuses on the violent defacement of stuffed animals. Without an explanatory statement, I don’t presume to know the intent of each individual artist. To me, these images seem to be a revenge taken on the saccharin, the sentimental, the maudlin, and excessively cute. Perhaps punishment meted out on the idea of security/safety, innocence betrayed, a weakness that must be obliterated in order to endure the world.

Although I appreciate what I perceive to be the impulse behind this approach, I personally find it self-defeating and unhelpful.

My intent in painting teddy bears in still life is to satisfy my own desire for soft texture, bright colors, and smooth shapes, along with positive associations; not to exalt the sentimental.

I had a dream, in which my parents were planning to blow up the kitchen with a small explosive, in order to re-decorate. They assured everyone (there was a huge garden party going on), that the explosion would be small, and easily remove only part of the kitchen, which they would then re-model.

The house and yard were full of people, sitting in groups, talking, picnicking outside in the early evening. For the entire dream, they were working away, trying to set off this bomb.

At the last moment, and just in case the re-decorating didn’t work out, I went back in the house and emerged with the one item I had chosen to remove from the potential blast zone; my large card board box full of bears.

(In real life, this box existed in the corner of my current bedroom, where I was storing some extra stuffed bears for Xmas/Solstice décor, — and I saw it every day; before it appeared in the dream of the distant and imagined past.)

I read somewhere that clutter represents an emotional vacuum, an emptiness, something lacking which needs to be addressed—As long as my clutter is somewhat organized, I find it meets my needs. Teddy bears have become for me a repository of emotion, as well as a source of positive sensory input; and, as a result, my current personal still life staple.

Pink Donut

Pink Donut

Pink Donut, 8" x 8", Acrylic on Ampersand Gessobord, 3/4" cradle backing, Limited Edition Prints Available. I painted this small still life in my kitchen over a period of several days. I kept the donut in the freezer when I was not using it. (It helps keep the frosting from getting sticky.) I set up the display on a box with tissue paper and a scarf. This is the first of my donut still lives: the second is Big Donut, currently on Consignment at Donuts A Go-Go in Mariposa. Prints are available from Williams Gallery.

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Big Donut

Big Donut

Big Donut, Acrylic on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, Painted on Edges, 30" x 40", Limited Edition Prints Available. As of May 2016, ‘Big Donut’ is currently on display as a consignment piece at Donuts A Go-Go in Mariposa. One day while my husband and I were in there buying donuts for ourselves and donut holes for our Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, I mentioned to the lady behind the counter that I keep a few donuts in the freezer so I can use them for still lifes; and how I admire the pastry paintings of Wayne Thiebaud. The management expressed an interest in…

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Blue Bear with Bowl

Blue Bear with Bowl

Blue Bear with Bowl, 18" x 18", 3/4" width canvas, acrylic, painted on edges, Limited Edition Prints Available. The bear in this painting is called Consolation Bear, because I found him sitting up on top of a dumpster in El Portal several years ago, immediately after finding out that the sale of my house had fallen through due to a technicality. Being distressed, I headed down to the swimming hole, and came across this blue bear en route. My feeling was, that I may not have sold my house, but I now had this bear. Good enough. The background is…

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White Bear with Butterfly

White Bear with Butterfly

White Bear with Butterfly, 10" x 10", Acrylic on Gallery Wrap Canvas, Limited Edition Prints Available. This white plush bear is ensconced in a square outline against a background of shiny turquoise cloth. The blue cup and saucer were obtained from a Mariposa thrift shop, and I used a homemade paper cut out to represent the butterfly ( I drew the design based on a book illustration and then cut it out, bending the wings so I could use it as a model.) The butterfly is a Buckeye, commonly seen in this area. It adds a sense of balance and…

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Pink Bear with Pumpkin

Pink Bear with Pumpkin

Pink Bear with Pumpkin, 11" x 14", 3/4 width, acrylic on canvas, painted on edges, Limited Edition Prints Available. This is my first Teddy Bear still life. I started with the small pink bear and built the composition around it, focusing on the colors pink, orange, black and white. The background is draped with polka dot scarves. I used straight black in the scarf, with multiple colors in the shading of the white spaces. With scratching and dry brush, I attempted to replicate the satin sheen of the neck ribbon. I kept the slight green accent in the pumpkin stem…

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Coffee Cup and Friends

Coffee Cup and Friends

Coffee Cup and Friends, 16" x 20", acrylic on gallery wrap canvas, Limited Edition Prints Available. Now this is what I call a still life. Can I get any more patterns in here? I collect scarves and use them as drapery, as well as larger pieces of fabric. The pumpkins are from the Jerseydale Pumpkin Patch, and they lasted for many months before I incorporated them into this painting. I admire the work of Wayne Thiebaud, and, looking at his work, along with that of as other contemporary artists, inspires me to set up and paint still lifes. I am…

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Coffee Cup

Coffee Cup

Oil pastel and colored pencil on paper, image size 5" x 7". This is a simple still life of a white ceramic cup and saucer against a metallic gold pattern and a solid deep red. The bold wallpaper style design is inspired by the work of Alexander Khomsky, and his still lives and figurative paintings done in a gold or silver leaf decorative background. See www.khomskyart.com for some beautiful work. This is the first of a series of coffee cup themed pieces.

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Still Life with Tomato

Still Life with Tomato

Acrylic on watercolor paper, 5" x 7" – SOLD The background for this small still life is a skirt I never wear, which is just more proof that I should never get rid of anything. I wanted to focus on the deep red of the tomato, and it’s subtle shading and contours as well as the smooth white of the small glass pitcher. My garlic bulbs tend to be multi-colored, with blue and purple shadows and pink and yellow highlights. The subdued golden brown of the fabric created a solid contrast to the brightness of the foreground items. Paisley improves…

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