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" Simply put, I fell in love with the art of 17th century Holland. From the genre paintings of Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch to the landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael and the still lives of Pieter Claesz, the creativeness and innovative drive coming out of that small republic, from the very beginning, has caught and held my attention, and continues to be a strong driving force behind what and how I choose to paint.

Born in the wrong century, I find myself shutting out the idea of painting modern subject matter, or using old master techniques in the 21st century to create old-time looking contemporary still life. It just does not interest me, and it does not creatively move me. So, over the years I have found myself painting more and more what looks like old Dutch pieces, using antiques and reproductions of period glassware, pottery, silver and so on, creating paintings with an old world feel. This is what interests me, and so this is what I paint. 100% Pieter Claesian still lives!

With my solo-minded personality I just fell into learning the technique on my own, not wanting influence from others, and staying focused on the inspirations that originally set me down this road. And, as this proved pretty daunting for learning the nuts and bolts of seventeenth century painting techniques, it allowed me to progress in my own way, learning straight from the masters themselves. A direct one-on-one style. I began by copying Vermeer's, which pushed me, through frustration, to learn technique. And through learning technique I found myself striving to better this and produce work that would have the feel of the old Dutch painters. Museum visits were a highlight of this learning. Much can be gleaned from close observation
of a brush stroke! And I am still pushing myself, still learning, which is very exciting to me. I feel an exhilaration when starting a new painting; laying out the objects, tweaking it just so, looking at the white canvas, the anticipation of the first strokes. After all of these years there is still a feeling of newness."


Montague, MA






James Whitbeck

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