The Killing Jar

June 5, 2023

Floral motifs often appear in my work but have never been the sole subject matter. “The Killing Jar” explores their inherent symbolism in a still-life context, specifically their use as a motif in vanitas paintings.

I wanted to avoid familiar tropes like skulls, and let the feeling of impermanence be implicit in the work.

The flowers and insects — ephemeral and fragile — are analogous forms to the fleeting nature of time. The golden spotlight against the midnight backdrop evokes a funerary display. The flecks of white noise appear as will-o-wisps encircling the domed cloche.  


Upon starting, I flipped through vintage botanical illustrations, and earmarked “Lillies of The Valley” by Charles Herbert Moore.

The will-o-wisp-like forms of Ross Bleckner’s work inspired my own use of flickering light forms in the final painting. Then Kohei Wakatsuki’s floral prints — with their strong sense of centralized subject matter, graphic-design-like compositional approach, and use of texture found their way into this piece.


Thumbnail sketches were created to guide the photoshoot for reference. Shooting reference is as much about information gathering as it is a part of the sketching process in my workflow. I’ll often take my reference shots into Photoshop and start sketching right on top of them to begin structuring the form of the final composition.

Having a strict balance of all the graphical elements just-so is important. The interplay of light, space, shape and silhouette are pushed and pulled until it feels right on an intuitive level. A digital process is often faster than analog sketching — but is quick to being overworked — so I aim to still leave enough ambiguity in the reference to solve in the final piece.


A light scaffold in pencil is laid out to define all the shapes and value relationships. With a series of acrylic paint washes the soft, hazy tones and forms are built up, balancing light and dark values and contiunously defining and softening forms until it’s ultimately completed and the composition feels harmonious.

You can view the complete work here.

For further reading, consider reading my post about Sally Mann, William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, and the beauty in decay.

To inquire about this work (to acquire, or anything else you’d like to know about the process behind it) feel free to contact me.



I like to leave my readers with what I’m listening to in the studio. This week, I’d like to recommend “New Rose” by the one and only, THE DAMNED.

Watch the music video on YouTube

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