One warm summer morning I painted these three peaches sitting on the rickety rail of our back patio. They were perfectly ripe, at their peak juicy deliciousness, and fairly glowed in the sun.
I’ve always admired the way that Cezanne was able to capture the weight of objects in his still life paintings. When I look at his canvases I sense the enduring presence of what he was seeing so many years ago. That’s one of the reasons that I painted the railing skewed downwards under the heft of the peaches.
If I’ve been influenced by Cezanne’s late 19th century boundary breaking shifts in the picture plane, I also lift a little from Wayne Thiebaud’s 20th century California cool. His luscious paintings depicting cakes, pies and ice cream cones are straight out of a pastry chef’s dreams. Looking at his work, I often have an urge to lick his canvases—seriously, they are that good. When I was painting these peaches, I had to restrain myself from eating them. Now the peaches are long gone, but the memory of their exquisite perfection is still hanging on my dining room wall.
Recently I read a poem by Luci Shaw that encapsulated in words what I was going for in an image. She writes about apples, but just imagine that she has peaches in mind:
“Then, at Christa’s, I see piled in a bow
the windfall apples from the yard, bruised,
some a bit wormy, but all glowing as if lit from inside,
offering themselves for pies and sauces
so tangy they leave you wanting more, more.
“I love the crisp word apple, with its hard
and soft sounds, and the way apples ripen
from blossom to green fruit, distilling the sum
of summer until they’re ready to give
their crimson selves away, the way light
offers itself without measure…
(an excerpt from “Christa’s Apples,” in What the Light was Like, poems by Luci Shaw)