Nature Morte


More than half of my print editions are devoted to still life images of flowers and fruit, fitting into and drawing inspiration from a long artistic tradition. The term still life comes from the Dutch word stilleven, and the Flemish and Dutch painters of the 16th and 17th centuries were largely responsible for establishing the genre. At that time, there was such a craze for still life paintings that specific sub genres earned their own names—pronkstilleven (ostentatious still life), ontbijt (breakfast still life), and vanitas (still life containing skulls, extinguished candles, and other symbols of mortality). I’ve always been troubled by the French term for these paintings, nature morte, which translates as dead nature. The combinations of flowers of fruits (and even butterflies and bees) traditionally depicted in these works has always seemed to sing of life. But I’ve been wondering lately what dead nature might look like as a beautiful still life, so I’ve started working on a new series entitled Nature Morte. There have always been still life images that include dead rabbits, birds, and fish as part of a bountiful meal, but I wanted to concentrate on my own garden flowers and plants. What better time of year to introduce the first of these than the week of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Souls, when the transitory nature of life is on our minds?