Inspired By Folding Cloth An unexpected idea for a painting

“Silver, Chestnuts, Velvet”
oil on panel, 5×5 inches. View this painting.

Lately I’ve spent a some time thinking and writing about the inspiration behind these paintings.

This partly stems from rewrite I’ve been doing of my website – where I’m trying to clearly express in words what these paintings are all about.

I suppose I also hope that focusing on the inspiration will ultimately lead to better work.


What I’m often trying to communicate about these paintings is that they come from a place of calm, quiet introspection. Both in that spirit and in the way they are made (slowly, deliberately), they almost become small meditations themselves. They are certainly an invitation to have that experience by spending a few silent moments with the painting.

That is always true in an broad, general way.

But, sometimes the direct inspiration is a little more down to earth.


I have a large and growing collection of fabrics in my studio – they find their way into the background of most of my paintings. There are hundreds of pieces – it might actually merits a small tour in itself, which I could do in an upcoming email.

And I keep adding to this collection. Recently found a wedding and events supplier on eBay who has a broad range of formal napkins and table runners… in velvet.

Velvet is a fabric I haven’t painted often. It is tricky to paint, but it does some fascinating and beautiful things with light that other cloths do not.

So, a few months ago I ordered a bundle of these napkins in different colors. When they arrived, I simply began playing with them – seeing how they handled the light, and the way they folded in on themselves and draped over a ledge – and I especially loved this deep royal blue.


As I worked with the arrangements of the cloth, I began adding in a few other items that happened to be sitting on the counter next to my light box.

Before long, I had that “Ah-Ha” moment that always happens when I see the right composition for a painting.

I immediately stopped, took note of the design, and began planning this painting – I’ve learned the hard way that good ideas should be acted on at once, or they are easily lost.