Not so Ordinary

Our Spaces and the Things We Fill Them With

Not So Ordinary
Our Spaces and the Things We Fill Them With

“One need but look at the great pictures to discover that in these there is no straining for effect. The subjects are everyday, commonplace, but seen with an artist’s eye. These homely objects are made sublime in their transmutation, in the passage from the artist’s brain to the canvas.”
~ John Carlson (1875-1947)

In his book, Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting, the master painter John Carlson encourages young artists to paint close to home, to choose their familiar, instead of travelling to distant lands searching for the perfect landscape, architecture, or other subject matter. I understand and agree. My pastel painting shown here, Living Room, is just that – our living room. I know the space intimately. My eyes are familiar with the contours of the furniture, the tones of the wood floor. My body knows the relative give of the couch and chair cushions. The sheer lace panels show what kind of day it is outside. When I draw the burgundy curtains that my hands know so well, it is time to unwind and give thanks for another day.
I have taken liberty with the color choices on the walls though I know these colors. The warm orange is the color we painted our hallway and the purple is the exact shade in one of the bedrooms. The print above the couch was purchased by my brother Christian on a special trip he surprised me with many years ago. He appeared at my door on a Friday afternoon declaring “I’m taking us to Long Island for your birthday!” This combined two of my favorite things; time with my brother and the North Fork. I barely packed a bag before I was hooking my arm around his and walking excitedly to his car.
The tiny fishing village of Greenport is where my grandmother lived and is the storehouse of countless family memories of joy, love, and connection. It is sacred ground for me. While there, Chris and I stepped into a cooperative gallery on Main Street and met a painter whose work I already deeply admired. Rich Fiedler was born and raised in Greenport and has always chosen the local landscape as his subject matter. He, Christian, and I spoke for over an hour. It was a moment that I will always cherish. Christian purchased the print and now, years after his untimely passing, it hangs on my living room wall as a symbol of love, family, and treasured memories.
My pastel painting of our living room has brought not only the teachings of John Carlson to light, but a new direction for a branch of my art business – that of painting special places within the homes of others. I am now open to accepting commissions for this nature of work. And though composition, perspective, and scale will be important, my main attention will be on capturing the essence of place and the memories of love and connection emanating from the objects therein. The color palette may be true to life or, as in Living Room, stray into realms that heighten the mood, or emotional connection of those who live and breathe in the space.
Despite following John Carlson’s advice for choosing commonplace subjects, I would have to say that the bunny lamp in my painting is anything but ordinary. There’s a story for that too! I look forward to the opportunity to paint your interior spaces and bring personal objects - be they whimsical, antique, or family heirloom to life through art. Contact me if you're interested.