Archives for Still Life

Emotionally Engaged

Natasha Isenhour is having a great year, even if it’s not quite the year she had expected. “I’m doing awesome,” she says. “Suddenly, finally, all this work has begun to come to fruition, and 2020 was set up to be just this amazing year. I was invited to do Cowgirl Up!, and that was huge. My gallery in Santa Fe, Ventana Fine Art, is giving me my first solo show. Then I was asked to be the featured artist for the Mendocino Plein Air event. And there’s more.” In mid-April, with much of the country under lockdown because of COVID-19,
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Making Art Sing

No matter what Cyrus Afsary paints, he makes his subjects sing. The Arizona artist infuses his landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and anything else he paints with head turning beauty that stops you in your tracks. That is his goal with each painting. “My primary objective is to have a viewer stop and wonder how I managed to express the light, color, or composition in the paintings,” he says. “I want them to look at the work in wonder, not pass it by too quickly.” How does he do it? “I don’t know,” Afsary says thoughtfully, going on to compare art
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The Studio of Kyle Ma

Kyle Ma is an art prodigy who began drawing nature scenes at age 4 in Taiwan, where he was born in 2000. Ten years later, he and his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Austin, Texas, where he began his art career in earnest. He astonished the art world by raking in multiple awards and gaining the attention of galleries and museums by the time he was 18. It’s been said he has the ability to create magic from street scenes, still lifes, landscapes—nearly anything he chooses to paint. Where does Ma work his magic? He does so
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Storybook Lives

Once upon a time, two lovely, talented, and hard-working artists met in a studio in New York City. They fell in love, he proposed to her at the Brandywine Museum, and they married. He paints portraits, she paints still-lifes, and their 9-year-old daughter Sadie makes elaborate structures out of cardboard boxes. That, in a very small nutshell, is the story of Sarah Lamb and David Larned. It’s not always rainbows and puppies, however. Today, it’s lobsters and crabs—four-day-old lobsters and crabs, in fact, and they do not smell good. “It’s starting to smell really bad in here,” Lamb says with
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The Master and His Art

Richard Schmid is described as a “painter’s painter”—and, oh, what a painter he is. His work is in high demand—as are his books, which include ‘Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting,’ which was released in 1998 and is in its 12 printings, and ‘Alla Prima II: Everything I Know About Painting and More,’ which was released in 2013 and currently is in its fifth printing. “At the time I wrote the first edition of ‘Alla Prima,’ I did not think of myself as a prodigy,” Schmid says, “but I realized I had marvelous training in the key aspects of
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Beauty in the Imperfect

“Imperfect vessels making imperfect vessels,” muses oil painter Jeff Legg, reflecting on his penchant for painting the crooked piece of fruit, the frayed and stained bit of cloth, the weather-beaten copper urn. “The wabi-sabi philosophy, perhaps?” If you talk art with Legg for any length of time, it’s likely that the concept of wabi-sabi will come up in conversation. A Japanese aesthetic that celebrates the flawed, the ephemeral, and the incomplete, wabi-sabi is an ideal framework for contemplating Legg’s subtle, exquisite, still-life oil paintings. In addition to portraying objects that are intriguingly imperfect, each painting depicts something fleeting: the petal
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The Power of Two

When we find someone with whom to share our lives, we are fortunate. When artists do so, they are especially blessed. At least that’s the case with the four artist couples we interviewed for this article. For most of us, we were attracted to our spouses, or significant others, for a variety of reasons: their physical appearance—which might simply be a great smile—their sincerity, sense of humor, intelligence, talent, or kindness. For the artists we talked with, there are other, equally important attributes, including respect for each other’s work and a shared passion for art. Couples Featured: – Sherrie McGraw
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‘It’s a Calling’

“Besides painting, I don’t really have any other hobbies. I don’t do anything besides painting,” says Chicago oil painter Mary Qian, when asked what sorts of things she likes to do in her spare time. She seems honestly a little bewildered by the question. Why would she not be painting? Why would she have spare time? What is spare time? Qian leads a clean, streamlined, art-centric existence, spending many of her waking hours at Chicago’s Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, an art space where she makes extensive use of the studios and the models the organization makes available
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Distant Memories

Kyle Polzin has been painting professionally for about 15 years now, delighting collectors with his wonderfully executed still life pieces that feature a magical mix of everything from flowers, flags, and feathers to boots, blankets, and bowls. Each painting is beautifully lit and masterfully detailed. We have featured Polzin and his work three times over the years, much to the delight of readers, who appreciate and applaud his skill in composing and painting pieces that stop you in your tracks, compelling you to study every detail and appreciate the magic of his brush. Not surprisingly, Polzin’s paintings sell as quickly
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Joyful Creativity

Laura Robb’s still life paintings are anything but still. Magnificently composed and masterfully executed, they come alive with vibrant colors, an exciting blend of shapes, strategically placed light, and intriguing brush strokes. They are a visual feast that have earned Robb a myriad of awards and that continue to challenge and excite her as much today as they did 30 years ago. When it comes to choosing the objects she will include in her paintings, Robb focuses on visual values, selecting them based on their visual appeal rather than their narrative value. “The most important qualities I look for in
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