Ted Arnold is a Dartmouth educated painter from Maine by way of California. The West Coast landscape still informs his still lifes and mise en scénes with strong light and vibrant colors, but his subject matter of china, teacups and other prosaic kitchen utensils are the stuff of more universal appeal. He also harnesses these bright colors to portray festive family gatherings and street scenes.
Arnold’s studio has shelves full of teacups, platter, urns, and richly decorated fabrics that he uses as models for the densely painted canvases. “I don’t think of my teacup paintings as simply stillifes” says Arnold, “but as conversations.” Each painting requires a careful balance of colors and shapes with a composition formed from his collection of china and fabric. Some cups- because of their unusual color or seductive shape- star in many of the paintings. Patterns of china emerge to create families- similar yet distinct like a reunion of cousins and siblings. Elegant bleeding blue china stars throughout the show as a counterpoint to the homely orange daisy teacup or green Fiesta ware plate. “The cups and pots and creamers are from many lands and of many persuasions like people in our cities,” says the artist.
Arnold also looks for the relationships- or conversations- between people. In “Billy’s Dinner” he has taken a very thin slice of home life- a family dinner. This painting is almost twelve feet long and broken into three sections. The length of the painting allows the story to unfold in time as you walk the length of it- a narrative in real time. People and the detritus of a meal are scattered across the surface. There are dark figures receding into the background, wine glasses and plates glint from the glowing candles. A hand holds up a glass to toast the figure across the room. Each person and table setting is truly having a conversation of color and form.