Nov. 5, 2010

Still lifes by Christopher Stott

While stumbling around the web the other day, I came across the still-life paintings of Christopher Stott and was instantly smitten. Stott’s compositions are very sparse, usually just two or three ordinary objects grouped together against a neutral white background, drenched in sunlight. I have not seen them in person, but to judge from the images on the web his technique is very precise, almost photographic. He handles light beautifully. Even from a distance you can tell that much. But these are so much more than technical exercises or pretty pictures. The paintings I like best are little stories. They show ordinary objects with the patina of age and long use — battered old books, chairs, alarm clocks, suitcases — suggesting the rich stories and lives they have led. The painting above, “Three Vintage Fans” (2010), reminds me of a family — a father and two sons, say. The father is turning to share a moment with his mischievous younger son while the oldest boy looks straight into the camera, dutifully holding his pose. Obviously I am projecting my own life onto these inanimate things; that’s the magic of it. That is what the best still lifes do. They help you see the things around you in a new way. They make you stop and really look.

Chris has graciously allowed me to use one of his paintings to illustrate the home┬ápage of this web site. It is a lovely, inspiring invitation to the writing life. Until I sell a few more books, I will have to settle for “owning” one of his paintings this way. (But you don’t have to, I hope.)

Check out Christopher Stott’s paintings at his web site or Flickr feed.

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