Contemporary still life paintings |

Contemporary still life paintings

Sarah Dixon
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

There is much more to still life painting than the quintessential image of fruit in a bowl on a kitchen table, says Margaretta Gilboy, a decorated artist who will be visiting the Vail Valley this weekend. Gilboy will teach a master class on Saturday at Vail Mountain School in conjunction with the Vail Symposium.

“My genre is still life ” but it’s contemporary still life,” Gilboy said. “People think of still life and they think of a pretty flower vase, more of a 19th century still lifestyle. My work isn’t like that.”

Gilboy graduated with an MFA from the University of Colorado and has received numerous awards and grants, including the Eugene M. Kayden Colorado Arts Award. Her paintings have appeared in over 20 solo exhibits nationally as well as being included in private and public collections including The Denver Art Museum and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

By incorporating many different styles into her art, Gilboy has arrived at the unique style found in her paintings. With strong references to cubism and a Picasso-like feel, her work draws a viewer in and challenges them to unveil the expressive emotion that went into the painting.

“Because of my interest in cubism and the influence of pattern and decoration in my paintings ” and being the age I am and having lived through so much of the 20th century art ” I find that my paintings are juxtapositions of many different styles,” Gilboy said. “I love the whole post modernist feeling of the conflicting styles in one work, the tension you get from the fusion of different artistic cultures.”

So though she is, technically, a still life painter, Gilboy says she would define herself much more broadly than that.

“I’m a post modernist and a realist,” she said. “A lot of my inspiration comes from Japanese art ” and recently from Persian art and manuscripts ” they have such beautiful detail and pattern. I also work sometimes with Burmese puppets ” I see that as a way of having a narrative that isn’t as explicit as if I were using humans. The puppets enable me to use the still life genre and still incorporate a human drama within the still life.”

Gilboy is adamant that still life painting is a means for the artist to express themselves on the canvas. She’ll bring this message to her students on Saturday when she leads a master class at the Vail Mountain School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Vail Symposium, which hosts the class, explains that the class will allow participants an opportunity to explore still life as an avenue to expressive form and content. Students are encouraged to compose and paint a work that connects to both the long history of still life as a significant expressive genre and to a deep personal expression. Students will also learn a few helpful and simple qigong exercises to energize and relax them.

Spots for the class, which is open to intermediate artists with some experience, are still available. More information is available online at or by calling 476-0954.

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