SARA QUALEY

I've been interested in still life painting for as long as I can remember. In part, this is because my mother was a still life painter. I am attracted to the genre for other reasons, as well. I like the challenge of drawing attention to ordinary, everyday objects and showing that they, too, have beauty. I like the fact that I can invent a separate table-top reality. I can choose the objects, assemble them, arrange the lighting, and determine the composition and perspective. My goal is to see the familiar in a fresh way and turn the commonplace into something uncommon.

How do I choose what to paint? I like to explore what we all share - objects that we use or consume in our daily routines. These items are worthy of attention, but we don't really think much about them. In addition to traditional still life subject matter, including bowls and fruit, I'm interested in objects from contemporary culture, such as packaging materials. Finally, there are also aesthetic considerations which influence me, such as the color, form and texture of an object.

When I compose a painting, I want to place objects in a context that invites the viewer to look closely. Sometimes, simply choosing an unlikely subject is arresting. Or I might mix traditional objects with very contemporary items. I consider perspective, whether to look down on the objects or to view them at eye level. Lighting is another critical element in organizing the composition. It leads the viewer's eye through the painting, establishes a focal point and gives the illusion of a third dimension on the two dimensional canvas.

In today's society, we are bombarded with visual images. We often don't have time to stop and really look at something. When I paint a still life, I'm forced to pay attention. Hopefully, these paintings will involve the viewer and encourage the viewer to pay attention to the ordinary.