Still life style by Holly Farrell

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Chair by Holly Farrell

Toronto-based artist Holly Farrell creates painted still lifes which elevate seemingly mundane subjects into meditations on the objects we use every day. We speak to Farrell about her career to date, inspirations, and choice of subject matter.

Bowl by Holly Farrell

"My first attempts at drawing involved setting a teacup, or a bowl, or a chair against a simple background - a tabletop or a bare wall," explains Farrell. "I practised drawing subjects which were mostly gleaned from my apartment. Subject matter was arbitrary to a point, though I found that having some sort of connection to the subject matter helped me connect to the work on a more personal level, ie. my grandmother's teacups, my mother's vintage bowl, or a chair salvaged from our old house."

Television by Holly Farrell

"Over time, after many successes and more than enough failures, I began to sense that the successes occurred more often when I had a direct connection to the subject, that I somehow was able to imbue the painting with something that reflected experience or memory or a place - of course this was totally subjective. Whatever it was, I decided then that I wanted to continue to paint from my past. I really connected with vintage piece: old wood chairs with peeling paint, chipped bowls, old wallpaper, vintage kitchenware, antique bottles, vintage soap packaging… the list goes on."

Pitcher by Holly Farrell

"My colour palette tends to reflect the time period of the subject I am painting. I sand down the layers as I paint in order to keep the colour layered, worn and muted. I add new detail at each stage, even painting over earlier important details - not unlike the successive wear on a piece of furniture that is painted over once in a while to freshen it up. I know those details are still there, under the paint. Painting wallpaper, though labour-intensive, allows me to be bold once in a while. I love the vintage 1930s and 40s wallpaper that goes with the bowls from the same time period."

Ice Cream Chair by Holly Farrell

"Twenty years after starting, I moved from painting the things in my apartment to discovering 'new' old stuff at antique shows and in vintage stores. Though I don't have direct experience with all of the things I paint, I am influenced by time periods, especially those my mother and grandmother lived through. Often my subjects find their way from the studio into my home - and are given a new life."

WGSN-homebuildlife subscribers can see all our still life styles here.