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Done, 2012, acrylic on canvas-wrapped panel, 24" x 30"

The Song That Is
The Song That Is, 2013, acrylic on canvas-wrapped panel, 72" x 60"

Orange Blossom Banjo, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"

Blue Skies, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"

Mandolin, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"

Violin, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"

Solo, 2004, acrylic on canvas-covered panel, 40" x 30"

The Song That Is, #1, 2004, acrylic on canvas-covered panel, 44" x 56"

The Song That Is, #2, 2004, acrylic on canvas-covered panel, 56" x 44"

The Green Guitar, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"

Busking, 2008, acrylic on sandpaper, 4.5" x 5.5"


In the mid 1970’s I was a student at UC Davis where I had the good fortune to study with Wayne Thiebaud. One day Wayne brought some art books into class, each showing the work of Georgio Morandi. He talked about Morandi’s work, and about the body of work a painter might contribute over a lifetime. We had a long conversation about unfavorable criticism one might expect to receive from choosing to repeatedly paint a narrow-seeming arena of subject matter. Yet, decades or centuries later, viewers might look at an artists’ life work – such as the bottles of Morandi, and perceive this same body of work as being powerful, contemplative, meaningful. Wayne asked us to bring some bottles to our next class for a still life painting exercise. Thus began my love affair with collecting and painting bottles, something I have been doing now for several decades.
“Ninety-nine bottles” is one of those childhood songs many of us learned on the long bus ride to our first summer camp experience. Even as this song quickly becomes unbearable, it somehow occupies a place in memory that often brings a smile. One day, as I looked at my collection of bottles on their shelf in my studio, the nagging “99 bottles of beer on the wall” riff popped into my head – and soon after, the idea for this painting.
In NINETY-NINE BOTTLES I have taken 99 bottles from my studio collection and painted them in 99 different 10-inch-square, still life combinations. I made up a few rules for myself as I did this. I always carried one bottle forward from the previous painting. I also changed the background color every week. In the beginning I hoped to complete one painting per day for 99 days, but had to abandon this idea when I recognized that one day per painting was often not enough time. When I was about 2/3’s the way through, I returned to school for 9 months to study music composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. With the long commute, I found my painting schedule quite interrupted. I painted mostly on weekends during this time, picking up the pace again after completing my studies. I began this project in the spring of 2006 and completed it in January of 2008.


Ninety-nine Bottles, 2006 to 2008, acrylic on canvas,  90" x 110" (99 canvases – 10" x 10")

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© Robin Eschner  2011 - 2014