Portfolio | The Still Life

Meet Five Artists Who Arrange & Paint Fascinating Objects

This story was featured in the July 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

SALLY BAKER

Sally Baker, Asian Still Life #10, watercolor, 7 x 11.

Sally Baker, Asian Still Life #10, watercolor, 7 x 11.

What inspires you to paint still lifes? I paint still lifes because I get to create relationships between objects, which in turn compels viewers to slow down, visually enter the picture plane, and stay for awhile.
How would you describe your style? My style is sharply focused. I endeavor to show things realistically while looking for abstraction in reflective surfaces.
How did you first get interested in art? When I was growing up, my mom and grandmother were always doing things with their hands. I always had art materials. Trips to the museum were part of our routine.
Where did you study art? I earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a teaching certificate from the University of Southern California. I have studied with artist Sondra Freckelton and her late husband, Jack Beal, since the early 1980s.
What other artists have influenced your work? John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Luis Egidio Meléndez.
What is your creative process like? I begin by selecting objects that speak to me. I set them up and take photographs until I find a pleasing composition; I use the photos as reference as well as the actual objects. I then use many thin layers of paint so that my colors are saturated and luminous.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? I have participated for over 30 years in two open-studio events in Sonoma County, CA; earned signature status in Watercolor West and the California Watercolor Association; had paintings in the annual watercolor publication, Splash; and been juried into the Fallbrook Art Center’s Signature American Watermedia International
Exhibition.
What galleries represent your work? Graton Gallery, Graton, CA; Corrick’s, Santa Rosa, CA; and www.sallybaker.com.

CLAUDIA SEYMOUR

Claudia Seymour, Toys in the Attic, pastel, 15 x 22.

Claudia Seymour, Toys in the Attic, pastel, 15 x 22.

What inspires you to paint still lifes? I find inspiration in a thousand places and virtually every day: seeing beautiful fruit at the grocery store, seeing something I’ve had forever in a new light, or having a potential title spring to mind that I just have to make real.
How would you describe your style? I am definitely a realist painter.
Where did you study art? I first took lessons at the Silvermine Arts Center. I’ve studied privately with Wendy Shalen, Eleanor Moore, and Richard Pionk, and I’ve taken classes and workshops at the Art Students League of New York and elsewhere.
What is your creative process like? The two most important parts of my creative process are at the beginning: designing the setup and getting the drawing right. After that, I’m good to go with color. The final stages are where highlights are added and shadows enriched.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Having a piece accepted into the Pastel Society of America exhibition, and then becoming a Signature and Master Signature member. Becoming eligible for Signature status in Oil Painters of America. And receiving the Medal of Honor from the Salmagundi Club in New York City in May—this recognition capped everything else.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? I love to read, and I enjoy gardening on a modest level.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? I’d probably be a writer. I’ve begun to think about writing a book about art—either fiction or nonfiction.
What galleries represent your work? J.M. Stringer Gallery, Vero Beach, FL; Susan Powell Fine Art, Madison, CT; Handwright Gallery, New Canaan, CT; Gladwell & Patterson, Knightsbridge, London; and www.claudiaseymour.com.

CINDY REVELL

Cindy Revell, A Knowing Glance, oil, 30 x 30.

Cindy Revell, A Knowing Glance, oil, 30 x 30.

What inspires you to paint still lifes? The women in my family passed on their love of gardening to me, and flowers have naturally become an integral part of my paintings. The interaction of birds, cats, and other creatures brings a sense of story and communication.
How would you describe your style? Whimsical expressionism that is exuberant and vibrantly colorful.
How did you first get interested in art? As a child I spent a lot of time with books, art, and my imagination.
Where did you study art? I attended MacEwan University, have taken numerous workshops, and have studied many art books.
What other artists have influenced your work? There are many, but Friedensreich Hundertwasser is one notable artist whose work reminded me that I can paint any subject matter I want, however I wish.
What is your creative process like? My paintings start in my imagination and emerge as rough, scribbled sketches. The ideas are refined as I draw them in oil on the canvas. I generally have a color plan, but that frequently gets changed as the painting progresses.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? A nomination for a Governor General’s award for children’s book illustration, participation in the New Reality traveling exhibition, and winning several awards were all special moments. But the best thing is standing in my studio, realizing that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? Keeping chickens, gardening, camping, and reading.
What galleries represent your work? Xanadu Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; The Artym Gallery, Invermere, BC, Canada; Bezanson Art Consulting, Vancouver, BC, Canada; Candler Art Gallery, Camrose, AB, Canada; Lando Gallery, Edmonton, AB, Canada; and www.cindyrevell.com.

ROB GRATIOT

Rob Gratiot, Eight, acrylic, 36 x 52.

Rob Gratiot, Eight, acrylic, 36 x 52.

What inspires you to paint still lifes? I am attracted to complex images in which there are highly reflective and very abstract pieces, and when you put them together, they make a somewhat realistic whole.
How would you describe your style? I describe my style as painterly photorealistic. My paintings look photographic from a distance, but up close, one can see a good deal of “handwriting.”
How did you first get interested in art? At my father’s knee. He had a real job, but he was a very good and serious painter as well. He gave me lessons when I was very young.
Where did you study art? I received a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of the Pacific. Then I studied for three years at the Art Center College of Design, and I earned a master’s in painting from the University of Denver.
What is your creative process like? I work from photographs that I’ve taken. I do a precise drawing, a loose underpainting, and then the “real” painting as if I were putting pieces of a puzzle together.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? I have won drawers full of awards, have been in shows across the country, and have my work in collections in Europe and the United States, but my most intense gratitude is in just being fortunate to be a painter and a teacher.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? I’d be in a bit of trouble. I did write a book recently, and I’ve been told it is very good, informative, and funny. But I don’t think I have what it takes to be the next Anne Tyler.
What galleries represent your work? www.robgratiot.com.

GAIL FAULKNER

Gail Faulkner, Navajo Kumquats, watercolor, 11 x 13.

Gail Faulkner, Navajo Kumquats, watercolor, 11 x 13.

What inspires you to paint still lifes? I enjoy the countless shapes, colors, and textures that still life presents. And it allows me to work with objects that I’ve collected over the years that have special meaning to me.
How would you describe your style? A tight, detailed style feels natural to me.
Where did you study art? Between careers, I attended the Philadelphia College of Art. After moving to California, I took evening classes at UCLA and numerous workshops with accomplished watercolor artists.
What other artists have influenced your work? Along with the old masters, contemporary masters who come to mind are Jeff Legg, Kyle Polzin, and Italian artist Gianluca Corona.
What is your creative process like? I love arranging my subjects to find the perfect balance. I work from a combination of reference photos and the actual objects, with my backgrounds and foregrounds frequently created in my mind.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Several years ago I had an exhibit at the Museum of Ventura County. During one of the museum’s classes for schoolchildren, a small boy, surrounded by my exhibit, set up his own little still life to try his hand at it. Awards and exhibits are always an honor, but being an inspiration to a young generation feels special.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? Our county museum’s art committee has kept me busy over the years. I love spending time at our mountain home. My husband and I are huge tennis fans, and we enjoy traveling.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? I have had careers in medicine and business, so I would likely return to one of those fields.
What galleries represent your work? www.gailfaulknerstudio.com and www.saatchiart.com.

This story was featured in the July 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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