Still Life with Apples, by Clark Hulings

Apples to Apples

“It’s a masterful study in how the light hits a variety of shapes and colors, with the curves of the apples looking especially three-dimensional.”

This still life is just the thing for a post-holiday moment of relaxation. Do you prefer apple or pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving…or something else entirely? In this 1988 painting, Hulings is putting in a solid vote for apples.

Edible Art

Fruit, cheese, flowers, and a few well-chosen kitchen items are composed with care in a flowing diagonal line. It’s a masterful study in how the light hits a variety of shapes and colors, with the curves of the apples looking especially three-dimensional. The signature Hulings red accent is the rose lying on the tablecloth—it’s the brightest of the triangle of reds that includes the wine and the Red Delicious apple. Because even a Hulings “still” life is never static, the Camembert has a triangular slice cut out of it and there’s an apple slice on the plate: showing that these items are not just decorative; someone may actually be planning a snack.

On the Edge

The backdrop and tablecloth are wonderful supporting players here, doing much of the work of establishing the source of light coming from the left side. The paint is thick to the point of making defined brushstrokes and ridges in the background, and dark accents pop up in the upper left corner and sweep behind the tallest white rose, making it glow. It’s abstract, interesting, and keeps your eyes moving from object to object. Another dynamic feature of the work is that under the kettle, there’s a drop-off between the covered tables that creates an open wedge—it looks as if it descends to the floor—and the stem of the red rose is suspended over it. This is a tiny but interesting element of instability in an otherwise grounded composition. Kind of like Thanksgiving dinner—staid and traditional, but always with a certain amount of uncertainty, especially if the whole family is involved. Clark Hulings had 32 first cousins, so he knew a little about that!

Bring Home Flowers

Although Still Life with Apples isn’t currently on the market, we do offer a beautiful 6 x 12″ giclée of White Roses with Onion that also features glowing white roses and a textured background.

Elizabeth Hulings