Each still life I build is an odd mixture of careful structure and shoddy improvisation. My pleasure in geometric harmony is counterbalanced by the unpredictability of living things. Despite the effort that goes into constructing the arrangement, the pictures are rarely faithful to the original model. I often alter or invent things as the painting progresses. Nature, as well as my own restlessness, conspires to lead me away from fidelitythings shift, wilt, and rot, making it impossible to paint them without relying on memory and imagination.
Imagination is magical: It is the transforming force that turns fancy into reality and reality into art. A good picture relies on that force for its success. Desire, too, is necessary, since it provides the impetus for making a painting. To paint is to experience a succession of desires, to work out a puzzle, to repeatedly ask: What is worth painting? I hope by satisfying my appetite for the material and sensual to make something which nourishes the intellect and spirit.
Sheldon Tapley, 2001
Sheldon Tapley was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela to British parents and raised in Europe and North America. Now a professor of art at Centre College, where he has taught since 1983, Tapley is a nationally recognized artist. His paintings are held in museum, academic, corporate, and private collections across the United States.
American Artist magazine published one of his large still-life paintings on its cover in November 1999, along with a feature article inside. In that article, the writer asserts that the artist masterfully blends hard-earned classical technique with a vision that is thoroughly modern and personal. The New Yorker reviewed his 1998 show at Tatistcheff Gallery in New York City, commenting that the works are intelligently composed and executed with polished skill.
Sheldon was an abstract painter and printmaker working with bold colors and textures at the beginning of his career, in the early 1980s. Returning to the direct observation that made his first experiences in art so exciting, he took up landscape painting and, from the late 80s onward, became known as a landscapist. A series of exhibitions at Harris Gallery in Houston and Linda Schwartz Gallery in Lexington established his reputation. In 1995, the artist changed his focus again, creating complicated and unconventional still-life images with an exuberant variety of textures and colors.
He continues to exhibit at Tatistcheff Gallery, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. He regularly speaks at art events and judges competitive exhibitions.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a 1980 bachelor of arts degree from Grinnell College, Sheldon received a masters in fine arts from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1983. In 1998, he was awarded an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.
He lives in Danville, KY with his wife, Ann, and their two children, Rachel and Peter.