...an enduring central challenge.

Still life is complicated. It has a long rich history and speaks about beauty, vision, philosophy, psychology, symbolism, regeneration, life, and death. And then, still life is simple, an arrangement of shapes, color, form, an exercise in observation, a celebration of bounty or a depiction of spareness, evocative of loss or of happier memories. It is, of course, in its own paradoxical way, both simple and complicated.

In these works, I explore some of still life’s many possibilities. Compositions with flowers, fruit, and familiar objects are created using oil on linen, gouache, pastel, watercolor, and charcoal drawings on paper. Arrangements are developed from direct observation and set against a landscape or contained in a densely patterned interior. Spatial possibilities are extended, always affected by light.

Whether interior or exterior, my compositions are most often made up of objects from my daily life. Pieces of fabric, ribbon, and photos associated with people and places from the past may be included as are reproductions of paintings that hold an emotional connection.

The landscapes depicted in these compositions come from my observation of Hudson River views, my neighborhood in New York City, or the surrounding hills of upstate New York. Most recently the views are a mix of architecture and landscape from summer visits to the coast of central Italy.

At first glance, the compositions may appear casual, but there is a complex formality to them that is the culmination of careful observation heightened by a highly developed color sense honed through many years. The accent of a drape, a trailing ribbon, or the detail from an Italian villa, might be used to create contrast and accentuate a color theme or unify parts to a whole.

Working under natural light is a demanding practice. To capture color and form in ever changing, atmospheric conditions is an enduring central challenge.

- Sandra Caplan, 2022