A Passion for Detail by Charlotte Moss


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Last week as I was recovering from a bad cold, I read the book A Passion for Detail by the talented interior designer, Charlotte Moss. This book is outside the usual topics I pick up when I need some comfort reading (just like comfort food, I also rely on comfort reading to feel better :)), and it turned out to be just what I needed to get inspired for the coming week.

This book was a wonderful joy visually, but also in that it opened my eyes to understand more of why I am an artist and why I love creating still-life paintings.

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Charlotte Moss believes that our lives are expressed in the little details.

The pocket handkerchief, the colored paperclip, and the silver compact – all are telling gestures that proclaim who we are… you look at these details and a world unfolds…

This is how I feel when I paint a still-life painting, as if the details of the objects unfold, sharing with me the spirit and enthusasim of life.

With each new painting I get to focus on the nuances and the combination of details and textures that bring these objects to life. With paint I am expressing the intangible feelings that are aroused in me when objects are grouped, trying to evoke a sense of mood, and creating an atmosphere of calm and beauty to mentally wonder into.

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My favorite chapter of the book is Undecorating: the Attention to Detail.

Objects give a house character. We accumulate things over time. We cherish them and display them prominently. They are assimilated into our daily routine. A paperweight. A brass change box. A bud vase.

This process, which some call decoration, is really what I call “living.” It is a progression, not a single event.

Forget the rules, arouse the senses, is the primary thrust of advice in this chapter, and in thinking about how engaging the senses makes for a more appealing and inviting home, I realize this also applies to creating art.

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{click on image to enlarge}

The pieces that heighten my experience of life are always the ones that make a lasting impression. Still-lifes by Chardin do this for me, in that they celebrate the beauty found in the simple objects of life and this really resonates with me.

{Basket of Peaches, with Walnuts, Knife and Glass of Wine by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin}

So going forward, I will try to think about how I can arouse the senses in my work. How to make a painting visually exciting while also stimulating the senses of touch, smell, and sound. Also thinking about what will evoke memories and sensations?

My hope is that if I think about this while painting, these ideas will be conveyed…


I was introduced to Charlotte Moss by the amazing ladies that host the “Skirted Round Table” podcasts, Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8, Linda Merrill of ::Surroundings::, and Joni Webb of Cote De Texas, who have interviewed her twice. Here is the first interview, and here is the second interview. And I owe them a world of thanks for their interviews and broadening my world.


Images are photos of her book, A Passion for Detail, click on them to enlarge them and see the details in each vignette.

Leave a comment (4) Filed under Book Review, Friday Inspiration, saying hello


  • Posted June 24, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I felt transported…thx for posting, Liz! And for giving us a glimpse into what makes you YOU!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Helen, Thanks so much :) I always love sharing other parts of me that relate to art but are not direct…


  • Linda Nickles
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Elizabeth, I’m so glad to see that you have featured this book. “A Passion for Detail” has been one of my favorite decorating books for years, and it sits on a table in my guest room. In fact, just yesterday I wondered if it might be a little dated. So many of the decorating magazines today feature the paired down, “minimalist” look. But really, those little details and creature comforts are what makes a house a “home”!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Linda :) This is a great book, and will never go out of style in my mind!

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