Try chicken breasts

I painted a vase to take a break from my ocean series, and because I only had one object painting in my portfolio. “But, how many times has a vase been painted over the last 1,000 years? Let’s not relitigate the vase,” my wife said. “Right. Why am I wasting my time, and everyone else’s, with this painting?” was my reply. But.

I like objects.

I find them comforting. They don’t talk back. They make it simple—you paint what you see. There is no subjectivity to paint something realistically. The roadmap is there in front of you. No stress, no fuss, no muss.

Objects. Why do artists paint them?

They’re handy. Right there in the room. Easier than finding a model to paint. And more comfortable than braving the outdoors. There are brilliant artists who spent their entire lives painting objects. In their rooms. Giorgio Morandi was one. He lived with the same objects for 42 years and painted them every day. 1,350 oil paintings. All with the same color palettes. Over and over. And over. Obsession? Dedication? Mental illness? What I did discover, to my dismay, is that painting an object realistically is boring. I am doing what a camera can do. And what millions of artists have already done, probably much better than me. So in my effort to make the vase more interesting, I ventured into new areas of decisionmaking: color selections, color planes, spatial relationships, figure-ground compositions. This decision list was endless. And the painful realization I had is this: I hate making decisions. I am more of a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I don’t like internal conflict. I don’t like making commitments. I feel trapped. So I am stressed.

By a vase.

I have problems, clearly. But not the kind that really matters. In Maslow’s pyramid, I am doing just fine. But I have the kind of obsessions that can drive a person crazy. What does this have to do with a chicken breast? Well, when my wife saw my first vase painting, she thought that painting a chicken breast would be more interesting. Actually, anything would be more interesting to her, or the rest of the planet, than that vase.

So I will paint the vase until she loves looking at it.

Or try chicken breasts.

(it's more intimidating than it looks)

Bill Cahan, March 22, 2021