An Unlikely Star This one thing has appeared in dozens of paintings


I have no idea where it came from – probably a second-hand store or yard sale.

I certainly don’t remember how much I paid for it, though I doubt it was more than a dollar or two.

I couldn’t even say when I got it – like many of the thousand or more objects in my studio, it has been there for a very long time.

But unlike most of those objects – which probably will never find their way into a painting – this one has been in dozens.

It’s just a simple wood-handled table knife – somewhat old, and not in the greatest shape. The handle is cracked in several places, much of the metal is rusted, and the blade is quite dull now – if it ever was sharp.

Yet, for me there is real visual poetry in it – it says all the right things to me as a painter.

It has the patina of age and use, suggesting a sense of history.

Despite the decorations, it has a simplicity and refinement to it – something of the grace and civility of the Old World.

And of course it has that magic and powerful connection to food.

The wood of the handle even hints at Nature.

So it has worked its way into one painting after another.

It’s almost never at the center of a painting – usually off to the side or tucked into a corner.

But its role is not just decorative.

From a compositional viewpoint, I find it extremely useful to help point the eye in certain directions, and well as for breaking long lines – for instance when the handle overhangs a shelf and casts a shadow over the edge.

It has a kind of mystique – that hint of an untold story – that speaks so eloquently to me, making it easy to fold into the bigger story of a painting.

Enough words, then… here are a few of those paintings (click on any image to see more).