still life

The morning dawn light coming through the window is startling, highlighting the edge of an unfinished quilt that drapes across a chair in the next room.


The light seems to be inhabiting the white bits of fabric in a dramatic way, captured by curves, calling the eye to look and enter the scene. Animated this way, it is as if the quilt is alive, moving in its stillness, inviting participation with the bits of color and cloth that are arranged just so, and in relation to what it touches by its presence.  Significantly this exact same scene called out to me just two nights ago too, as the day moved into twilight, the last light of the day vs. the first light of the day making a still life of this scene right now…

After almost four years of sharing images here in this blog space I consider the rather massive photo library that now lives on my computer. Quickly scrolling through the hundreds of photos in my archive, I find myself clicking on just a few of the images of boldly distinguished objects with highlighted shape and color as revealed in a clear source of light….


These are not necessarily the beautiful light filled landscapes that might literally change as the camera clicks, or the bubbling contents cooking in a pan or bowl to be consumed at any moment. They are human constructions first, most often in the kitchen, whether by intent or by accident, that maintain the illusion of stillness. And more often than not, untouched, they will be, or could be, there in the same form the next day, changed only by the quality of light reflected and what is revealed by that reflection. I think of the generations of artists who have made a career of capturing such scenes on canvas, interpretations of what these objects are in relation to where they are in a day of light moving across and around and through. Even the still life of assembled food items on a cutting board falls into this category when considering how even moisture can reflect light…


Random sightings of jars on the counter, sometimes sitting just so, never moving for weeks on end, become a still life that can capture attention when I am ready to see it.


I see the objects. I see the light reflected on the objects. Is there meaning in noticing objectively just what I see? Or is the meaning in what I want to see? Because I am quite certain, what I WANT to see is beauty…

Imagine how this desire might influence how everything is seen and experienced!

What if I close my eyes and let myself watch how the light inside can illuminate certain places inside of me at certain times too. How do I see the beauty here too?

Which raises the question, is a portrait a form of still life?

To this, I am captivated by the notion of the ‘selfie’. We watch ourselves in the lens of the camera, the object and the subject, snapping to capture something we think is there. And my experience is that what materializes is always something unexpected. Waiting for the moment I think I see beauty, what is there is simply just another aspect of the still life of my features I am always part of.

I am famous for saying I don’t like pictures of me. So with the selfie, I have a chance to keep snapping and keep evaluating.  Sometimes I am part of the scene and not all there…

portrait 2

or the image becomes more a commentary on reflection…

portrait 3

Even with a selfie, I can try to capture what I see, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I can control what will be there, like the interesting reflections within reflections that signal infinite views of what is really there.

Seeing beauty in an image of me is difficult in the end. And an interesting exercise for watching how an object of beauty in still life is so very subjective after all…

The image that finally resonates is one that also gives me pause.  It is not a portrait I might compose as an artist. Like most beauty, it is found and realized.   I see a composition of features that are reflecting light in a revealing, and pleasing way.  I see the full depth of my age in the folds of skin around eyes and neck, and choose to see this as the beauty of experience and growth. I see an expression that reminds me of my mother’s smile, and choose to see this as the beauty of the lineage of wise women I am a part of.  And if I look really hard, I even see where love has softened all the edges of a tumultuous journey, and choose to see this as the hallmark of a not so still, life….

portrai 1

1 thought on “still life

  1. Kathy, your last paragraph brought tears! So beautiful! You, and how you chose to see you — lovely.

    And that last line — A not so still, life. Like a thread that weaves the whole piece together.

    (P.S. Reminding me why I want a water pic!!)


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