Falling in Love with Tchotchkes

Inspiration to create a series of paintings are from close observations of my surroundings. One weekend while on a jog, I passed a yard sale. My eyes made a quick scan of the plethora of goods laid out in the driveway. A self-declared anti-shopper, I expected to continue running my course. But the sun caused a blinding glint, and I lingered on a little trinket. Upon examination of this unique miniature glass "Tchotchke," I immediately was attracted to its nostalgic aura and how I would depict its nuances on a canvas. I felt dismayed that I had not tucked money into my running shoe. When I got home, I drove back, but that little treasure of a reference for a painting was gone. Hence began my quest to paint collectibles, once owned and cherished, these inanimate objects had imbued their charm into my artistic mind. I now derive pleasure “shopping” thrift stores for creative inspiration. This work has become a collection of second chances. Collectibles (Tchotchkes) that were formerly valued with a personal sentiment are creatively transformed with a new legacy depicted as a fine art painting.


I found this beautiful ceramic cat at a thrift shop in California. My forte is highlighting details, so I created a set-up with this statuesque cat in front of my studio windows where the reflections trailed in a dance. “Window Cat”, 12 x 12 inches on canvas, was the first painting in the Tchotchke Series. Theses smaller works are gallery wrapped, stretched over 1.5” thick stretcher bars. The sides are painted carefully paralleling the gradation of color and tone throughout. These canvases feel and look like a present. Instead of sitting on a shelf, their beauty and whimsy bring a sentimental and contemplative presence into any space.

Christine O'Brien