"Cup and Stone"

This week’s featured painting is “Cup and Stone” from 2021.  It is done with oil on panel, and measures 5 x 5 inches.

Details in a painting can often seem like they’re nothing more than that – a way of decorating a small area of the picture.

To people who paint simply for pleasure, that is often the case – the details applied to the painting are not usually the result of deliberate consideration, and can often be exchanged with a whole different set of details with little damage to the whole.


But conscientious artists approach details in a more thoughtful way, and use them for more important ends than simple decoration.

The details become functional, whether the goal is to make one area of the painting more significant than the rest, or to move the viewer’s eye in a particular direction, or to support an emotional or aesthetic goal of the painting.

When you look at a real masterpiece, rest assured that the artist has carefully considered each and every single detail, and they all contribute something important to making the greater whole (and it’s often fascinating to look at one of these paintings and think about the details the artist chose to omit).


While I can’t claim to produce masterpieces, I certainly strive to think that way – when I’m painting well, I’m at least considering how the small parts fit into the bigger whole.

A case in point is the edge of the shelf in the lower part of this painting. While it may seem like an unimportant element, I painted it that way to contribute directly to the deeper expression of the piece.

Everything else in this painting is calm and static – even the very central placement of the objects contributes to the overall sense of stability.

I wanted to introduce a small element that would rub up against that stability, creating a tiny amount of friction in the design.


The obvious way to paint this would be facing the model straight-on, so that the edge of the shelf would be perfectly horizontal in the frame.

Instead, I chose to view it slightly from the left, so that the shelf is angled a bit.

I suppose the deeper point I was trying to make is that even when things in life appear mostly perfect, something is always off just a little.

Whether I succeeded in that is, of course, in the eyes of the viewer.

Canvas prints of this painting are available.  To see more, click the blue button below.