Ever since the very first artist placed a brush onto a canvas, it seems as if painting the everyday objects that surround us is a natural act to draw in an audience. For some artists, such as New York-based painter Amanda Baldwin, investing attention towards creating still life artworks just felt natural, like the many artists over centuries who came before her.
Even though many of the objects of still lifes – the fruit bowls, tables and chairs housed within frames – catch the eye of the viewer in being relatable, for Amanda the medium presents the “constant reformulation and reflection of society”, she tells It’s Nice That. It’s a subject she’s personally interested in exploring, “as well as adding to that ever-evolving narrative” too.
Amanda has “always loved making art” but over the years, particularly since studying at Virginia Commonwealth University, “painting has been the main medium I have stuck with”, the artist tells us. Working with oil and acrylic on canvas, her chosen materials appear to play as much a part in her painting’s expressive outcome as her chosen subjects: “The longevity of oil as a medium allows me to layer paint and play with transparency as well as blend in a more controlled way that acrylic can’t really do,” she points out.
When beginning to work on a piece, this process is a consideration coupled with her own “vague idea of what the painting will be” only adding and removing objects as she goes along. “I like to let the individual elements lead and determine the final outcome,” she says. This goes back to Amanda’s love for still life painting’s ability to communicate as, while composing a painting, “I’m thinking about riding the line between order and a discombobulation”, the artist describes. “That can manifest itself in certain aspects like enhanced colour, arrangement, scale, transparency, pattern, perspective, flatness and depth.”
Even though the artist admits that “at first glance the paintings may seem straightforward and literal”, in her considered approach Amanda encourages the viewer to examine each piece a little closer where “signs of subtle disintegration of those assumed realities,” and “a slight perspective shift or an altered light source can quietly disrupt a scene”.
As a result, Amanda’s paintings have the ability to say many things at once and “varied degrees of representation and rendering allow me to focus on specific ideas projected onto everyday objects or vessels”, the artist elaborates. Within her thoughtful approach, acting as a translator of everyday objects into fine art, “mundane and inanimate items like fruit can take on anthropomorphic qualities by zooming in and blowing up certain attributes”. Leading to Amanda’s own interpretation of her paintings as being “both familiar and uncanny, a sort of déjà vu”.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.