Broken, Dirty, and Torn Up

Coffee Break by Steve Wilda, acrylic painting.

I respect Steve Wilda’s approach to still life painting because he depicts objects that most people would pass by. Torn lace tablecloths, broken mugs, rusted out pots—the items that Wilda depicts aren’t refined, yet the still life paintings he creates have a rough-and-tumble beauty about them that is memorable and appealing.

Looking at Wilda’s work makes me reassess all the objects for still life painting exercises that I may have discarded in the past. I guess I have always thought that only “certain” objects are right for still life artwork—objects that are clean and intact. But I haven’t been giving the patina of time its due. Objects that show their use and those that have been broken or altered in some way can be just as interesting as ones in pristine condition.

Lemon Drops by Steve Wilda, acrylic painting.
Lemon Drops by Steve Wilda,
acrylic painting.

In fact, I think that objects that show you a little bit about the life they’ve led have more character than ones that are brand new. I’ve also found that I have a stronger connection to the objects Wilda depicts because my senses are more engaged in looking at them. When I see a broken coffee mug, my mind settles on imagining how that broken edge feels, or what the texture is of the rust on the pitted bucket in the painting Lemon Drops. Instead of being a liability in his still life art, these aspects of his still life objects put Wilda’s paintings a bit above the rest in my mind.

But no matter what kind of object lures your eye, you have to start with mastering all the oil-painting approaches you’ll need to paint anything and everything you can find. From lessons on painting metallics and reflective surfaces to step-by-step information on texture and edges, there is so much to learn but the resources you need are easily within your grasp with the North Light VIP Membership. You get perks like free shipping and 10% off purchases, and more, so when you find the guides that are packed with crucial information for any painter looking for solid instruction, you won’t have to hesitate to get them in your hands. That’s what being a Very Important Painter is all about. And right now you get 30% off the North Light VIP Program with the code VIP30. Enjoy!


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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

2 thoughts on “Broken, Dirty, and Torn Up

  1. Is Steve Wilda going to be doing the art for “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies” any time soon? :)) What I see is a decomposed hand holding the other part of the tea cup. He is very talented…………made my imagination go wild!

    I do have some of my own symbolism……..I like purples, for some reason I always feel better when there is a purple in my paintings. I also like Sugilite and like to paint with it and I have jewelry made from the stone……..I feel calm.

  2. This is a first for me: I had zero (zip, nada) interest in still life until I saw these, and having seen them, I now understand why—I found the almost standardized subject matter and lack of texture boring. Wilda eschews both; in doing so, he brings imbues his pieces with the sense that the objects have lived a life and in doing so have a story to tell through the texture and patina acquired in their years of service.