Monday, April 17, 2006

The Still Life

Stillness…. it’s a foreign concept to many of us that live in a society that worships instant gratification and thrives on the frenetic pace of modern life at times as loud and directionless as a NASCAR event.

Picture a large body of water without a ripple on it, and breathe deeply. The only sound you hear is that of your lungs filling with air. That’s stillness. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to view a truly great “still life” by one of the Old Masters you too have known the power of stillness. In his book “The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle author encourages stillness for attaining a spiritual connection.

16th and 17thh Century painters, especially Dutch painters such as Vermeer and Steen, became entranced by the “still life” genre. It was often accomplished by taking fruit, vessels or flowers and other objects of everyday life, and painting them using light and color to make ordinary objects take on extraordinary life. At the same time other Dutch painters, were painting the sea, angry, perilous and almighty.

Contemporary artists are still exploring the subtleties of the "still life". Watercolorist Laurin McCracken has been greatly influenced by the 16th Century Flemish painters. His work has been lauded by publications such as American Artist, and merited McCracken one of the quickest entries into Signature Membership of the National Watercolor Society. His advancement after just two years of membership is extraordinary considering it typically takes artists years of submitting work before they get selected for this distinction.

McCracken captured this Signature distinction for his painting “Glamis Castle Rose,” done in the Dutch and Flemish 16th century style. And while he is known for his “still lifes,” his career has been anything but still. “I see things in a high level of detail, and I’m willing to put the time into capture it in my watercolors. McCracken has studied with Gwen Bragg at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia and with Alain Gavin at the Art Institute of Chicago. His paintings hang in corporate and private collections, including McGraw-Hill's Corporate Collection and the Urban Land Institute. He also has photographs in the Graphics Arts Collection, Princeton University. He is now moving into teaching himself, having recently conducted a workshop in Pasadena, Calif. for American Artist magazine, a publication which featured him in its 2005 fall issue. To view more of this amazing artist's work visit

(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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