Revealing Still Life Subjects

My first career was as a florist, and gardening is still my hobby, but I find flowers so beautiful on their own, I don?t feel as if they need to be painted. Instead I find that humble, even silly, objects from my past inspire me. Often these are things I either encountered or wished I?d encountered during childhood. I feel nostalgia, especially, for a time period?the ?30s, ?40s and ?50s?when my mother was a girl.

Blue Crysanthemums (watercolor and arylic, 17 x 13)

Patterns in cloth, commemorative objects and antiques appeal to me; I get interested in a certain category of objects (crystal balls, ashtrays, etc.) or in a certain color scheme (coral and ultramarine, for example). Then I go around to my favorite haunts, secondhand shops that I prefer to antique stores for two reasons: They?re more in league with my pocketbook, and I like objects that are lowly—unimpressive, even humdrum on their own—but which exhibit an intriguing shape or an unusual color. When I put these odd, funky objects together in a still life composition, I find, in working on the painting, that I?m creating a mood and sometimes evoking, if not telling, a kind of story.

Artist and instructor Jerry McClish of Bradenton, Florida, is a contributing editor to The Artist?s Magazine and president of the International Society of Marine Painters.

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