The American Still Life

I am gearing up big time to teach next week in Virgina Beach next week.  Have you ever checked out the Art and Soul Retreat website?  Seriously, if you've never attended an adult artsy retreat you need to add it to your budget.  Even if you save just a tiny amount each month you'll be able to attend in no time!  The best part of the retreat is meeting the artists/teachers you've admired for a spell in person.  Heck, I am beyond excited to be taking Jesse Reno's class next Friday!  I love meeting my students and getting to know them on a more personal level.  In fact, I have been to some of my student's houses in far away places we've gotten to be such good friends.  You see, when you attend something like this its a lot like camp.  You make these friends that literally change you.  And stay your "camp friends" forever. True story.  I can't wait to meet my new friends next Sunday in class.  We are going to have an amazing time painting together.

So what am I teaching in Virgina Beach?  I call the class the American Still Life.  I took one oil painting class in college where the teacher literally would pile on a table a bunch of crap.. I mean "Still Life Objects"....then she'd say "paint this....there's a critique in 3 days"....and she'd walk out and not reappear until the critique.  Yeah.  Great teaching right?  And since I had zero background grades k-12 in art going into a college level oil class was terribly scary.  I sucked.  So I thought.  The one thing I took from the class was that I hated still life painting.  Or so I thought.

You see, a still life in my mind now means taking a snapshot of a special memory and not only capturing it on film but also through paint.  When you paint something from a photograph you kinda change its meaning.  You give the photo a soul.  Ok...I've not gone all herbal wacko on you guys.  But what I am saying is that a photo is nice.  It captures a moment in time right when you want it to.  My still life paintings however, tend to capture more than a moment.  I've literally had people tear up upon seeing my truck paintings.  Not because it was so bad their eyes couldn't handle it, but rather because of the memory it brought to the forefront of their minds.  A memory from childhood mostly.  Of a time that was simpler.  Gentler.  And seemed to stream together endless summers where barefoot bike riding was always first on the day's agenda.  So in my class I guide you through painting these memories of your America. 

The chairs above?  Well my Grandmother always had these, one being a rocker we'd always get in trouble for rocking too far back in.  My sister and I hated sitting in these in the summer in Opelika, Alabama because it was hotter than hell there in the summer and the chairs always pinched the backs of our legs.  But that's what we had to sit on at Grandmother's house.  Being at her house for a week in the summer, every summer of my childhood means so much to my life.  It's a part of my American Still Life.  A part of what I want to capture with my brush.  So what would be your American Still Life?  Come paint with me and see.

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