Karen's Studio Blog
Greetings and Salutations,
I started painting fruits and vegetables in 2002 to explore symbolic themes and to get to know the light in my new studio space. I was interested in how sunlight from my two windows would affect the light in my paintings. One window faces south and the other west and I thought the light might be very harsh. My previous studio had north and east facing windows that had a softer and more even light. So I went about experimenting with this new painting situation.
Over the course of a hundred or so paintings, the basic setup stayed the same with the fruit or veggies placed on white paper that was laid on a small folding table. I wanted everything pared down to the most basic elements so the the objects and their corresponding shadows would have center stage. I experimented with changing the location of the still life setup within my studio space, time of day that the painting took place, and where I painted in relation to the still life. I also varied the fruit and vegetables that I painted. I painted for two years with the still life set up in this way.
Still life painting has been an artistic tradition throughout history. Early still life paintings have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs and on the walls in Pompeii. This tradition continues through today with master painters like Wayne Thiebauld.
The symbolic nature of food and other objects within a still life goes back equally as long and represents a variety of things depending on the culture and particular time in history. Sometimes the theme is allegorical or religious in nature such as in the bible with Adam, Eve, and the apple. The selection of objects within the still life represented the wealth of the patron such as those painted for the House of Medici in the 15th century. Botanical illustrations have a shared history with still lifes dating back to the 16th century. There’s also symbolic reminders of death, such as rotting fruit and flies in the still lifes with the vanitas theme and memento mori translating to remember that you have to die.
Food has different meanings depending on the person. At your next get together, ask if they like broccoli and watch a lively discussion on the loves and hates of green vegetables or vegetables in general. It’s a great ice breaker. Everyone has an opinion.
What are your favorite foods? Is there one you just can’t stand? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Have a beautiful and yummy day,