The shapes of chairs create interesting negative space. Their legs and slatted backs let the landscape or background show through. They frame a view and enhance their surroundings. You can put things on their seats that aren’t people – flowerpots, pillows, and cats. And, in the right light, they cast dramatic shadows.
The first chair painting I did was all about this negative space. I stained the surface of a canvas the brown color of the chair and painted the white walls around the edges of the structure and its shadow.
In 1983 I began to make my “set-ups” of chairs, rugs, plants, windows, etc. I moved them around inside or outside my house to take advantage of the light. Certain chairs made stronger statements than others, and I’ve used them over and over.
Here are some of the images I’ve painted since that first chair in 1974.
A Chair for the Museum Show
In 1985 I had a solo show at the Anchorage Museum. I did a series of paintings using the east window in my studio as a backdrop. I think this painting was the first “set-up” I made using a dining room chair, a plant, patterned rugs, and patterned cloth.
Sunshine and Flowers
Every fall I bring all my geraniums inside for the winter. I love to see them in the sunlit living room, as the weather outside gets colder.
The Kitchen Chair
Our kitchen chairs are straight-backed and sturdy. They’re a solid and reassuring presence and good creators of negative space.
The White Chair
When my grandma Crump went into a nursing home she let us grandchildren each choose something they liked from her house. I had always wanted this white chair and a little white table that had been in my father’s bedroom when he was growing up. My dad had it packed up and sent all the way to Alaska for me. It’s a hard chair to paint because of all the turnings on the legs, but I love it.
Mara’s Orange Chair
In high school my daughter Mara painted her bedroom orange. And one summer her friend Meghan gave her this orange chair for her birthday. It had been in the coffee shop where Mara worked, and when the place closed down Meghan somehow fit the chair into her little car and brought it to the orange room.
The Wing Back Chair
For a while this was my studio chair. But now I keep it in the living room where I sit to read or knit. It’s been recovered twice – that’s how well used it is.
Thanks for joining me on this chair adventure. Happy spring!