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Want a little art in your coffee? Or vice-versa? We went to Trader Joe’s this week and discovered pumpkin coffee. With a teaspoonful of caramel syrup stirred in, it makes a great reward for a day in the studio.

This little example of coffee art is a simple portrait of a cup of Joe. It’s meant to evoke the warm feeling that comes from a delicious hot cup of my favorite beverage. With or without pumpkin flavor or caramel. It’s just a skosh different from my usual portrait work.

There’s a rich history of still life paintings. I’m not even sure this little painting qualifies as an honest-to-goodness still life. It has all the earmarks, though. Namely:

1) it is indeed a painting.

2) there are no people — or ghosts — in it.

3) there’s an object sitting on a surface in the foreground.

As I recall from years of study, those identifying characteristics virtually guarantee you’re looking at a still life. But none of those rules really address what a still life DOES. And that’s where a lot of opinions come in. There’s an argument for still life paintings being laden with symbolism. There’s an argument for them being totally bereft of symbolism. There’s an school of thought that they don’t contain text. Or political motivation. Or living things. Funny how a still life wouldn’t have any life, but there you have it.

In the end, still lifes — like beauty — are in the eye of the beholder, are they not? So, feast your eyes on this tiny little painting of a half-filled coffee cup with an ear-shaped handle sitting on an orange-y surface in front of an equally ruddy backdrop.

This piece was accepted into the Treasure Valley Artist Alliance’s fall show Cuisine Art, opening November 6th at Boise State Public Radio.

Ghost Coffee - oil on panel - Michael Chambers - 2015


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