Painting the Story in the Still Life

Scott Conary 5
Scott Conary 3
Scott Conary 4


Every painting, even the humble still life, has a story in it. It’s told by what subject we choose to paint, how we present that subject, and how we paint it. Finding what interests us in a subject and how we connect to it drives that story, and directs how the painting is made.

We’ll work on small still life paintings to explore the process – from thumbnail sketches, lighting the subject, considerations of composition, to the application of paint to build form with light, color and mark. We will walk the line between technique and intuition, using the still life as a way to explore paint and why we make art.

Scott Conary Website:

See a recent interview with Scott Conary:



Scott Conary

Scott Conary

Raised where the east coast suburbs filtered into the woods and farms, Scott Conary (RISD, BFA ?93) creates oil paintings of everyday objects and places with which we have complicated and often ambiguous relationships. Pulled from their context, they have something to say about how we interact with the world and each other. These are stories of the arbitrary nature of beauty, of melancholy, of fleeting triumph, and the camouflage of time: the meat we greedily consume but are repulsed by, the weed that fights to survive in the gaps of our attention, the old door used for generations but now forgotten, and so on.

Fueling and inspiring this work is his young daughter?s battle with complicated heart defects, her experiences with disability, And the impact that has had on those around her. This has directed his focus towards the narratives and tensions in the common, and is why he wanders deeper into the thicket of representational work.

His approach to teaching is to give the students more tools to express their ideas. “Technique and craft should be honed, but the artist must remain open and willing to play. And so must those who teach them.”

He and his family live in Portland, Oregon.

    A suggested palette including the following colors (or your preferred substitute) plus any additional colors you enjoy: White (Titanium or Titanium/Zinc White) Black (Ivory, Mars, or Mars/Ivory) Yellow Ochre or Gold Ochre Burnt Sienna Burnt Umber Ultramarine Blue Quinacridone Magenta and/or Alizarin Crimson Permanent Cadmium Red,Naphthol Red, or Scarlet Lake Cadmium Yellow (medium or light) or Hansa Yellow Suggested additional colors (optional): Phthalo Blue (Green shade if indicated) Dioxazine purple Cadmium Orange or Permanent Orange
    One of the following (a small bottle is fine) or your favorite: Gamblin Galkyd Lite (my current favorite) Winsor Newton Liquin Utrecht Alkyd Medium
    A set of brushes suitable for oil or acrylic paint, bristle or synthetic. A mixture of sizes, at least three or four brushes, ranging from 3/16? to at least 1? in width. Brights or Flats preferred. Plus any favorites. Painting knife (equivalent to Dick Blick #44 or #6, Loew Cornell #12)
    Smooth prepped masonite panels (e.g. Ampersand Gessoboard). At least four in a variety of sizes. Smaller is better. From 5? x 7? up to 9? x 12?. Plus any other supports you might like.
    Disposable or wooden
    Two containers with lids for solvent. (glass or metal) One small container for medium.
    Medium or Soft
    (old fashioned pink eraser works well)
    Lighter weight (60 lbs paper) is fine.
    Blue shop towels work well
    Nitrile gloves (keeps hands clean) Additional painting supports (canvas, wood panels, oil painting paper) Table Easel (if you have one available - these will be small paintings)
    Easels, tables, shadow box materials, lights and Mona Lisa painting solvent provided by Sedona Arts Center.