South Pomfret, Vermont
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Making/History: Vanitas Flower Paintings

Explore Dutch still life paintings in this art history class with an open studio twist.

During the 17th century Dutch artists produced lush, opulent paintings of startlingly realistic flowers. Characterized by dramatic lighting, sensuous textures, and exotic objects, these still life paintings featured flora, fauna, foods, and household wares rendered in exquisite detail. However beautiful these images are, though, don’t be fooled: hidden within the paintings are symbols and a language that communicates “life is fleeting and death comes to all.” 

Come explore the fascinating world of vanitas paintings as we delve into the history, politics, and secret codes of this art genre. The first half of class will involve a juicy discussion of the topic and give us a chance to “read” paintings of this period. Our new knowledge of vanitas art will carry us into the second half of class when we set up a sprawling floral still life and try our hand at creating. Art supplies such as pastels, acrylic paints, pencils, and collage materials will be available so that you can create and take home your own personal vanitas work. No art instruction will be provided: this is an art history class with an open studio twist! All participants welcome.

If you have garden or wildflowers you’d like to contribute to our still life, please feel free to bring them! Cameras are welcome, as are any personal art materials you choose to bring for your own work.

Should this class fill quickly it is possible we will schedule a second workshop. Please add your name to the waitlist to help us determine whether or not to offer a second class.

Karen Rodis is the Development Manager at Artistree. She holds a Doctorate in Education and an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Karen also holds a MA in Anthropology from UMass and a BA from Hartwick College, where she double-majored in art history and anthropology. Having taught in New England public schools for nearly two decades, Karen brings her background in visual art, music, movement, and theatre to Artistree’s adult and children’s programs.



Flowers in a White Stone Vase by Dirck de Bray, 1671 (Dirck de Bray, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons) Image Source