I have yet to outgrow my childhood animism; I am sure that various inanimate objects have lives of their own in an alternate universe, or just when we’re not at home. This is especially true of chairs, stuffed animals and books. Painting these things is like putting on special glasses that allow me to see them “alive” even in daylight.
When I look at a shelf of books I see huge clouds of ideas stuffed down into humble packages. We people like to show off our books on shelves like merit badges, because we’re proud of the ideas we’ve ingested to make us who we are, and want to display our insides for others to see, hoping to make a connection or impression. I think this is endearing and charming, and also makes me feel a bit sad for us. And yet when I paint someone else’s bookshelf and they have some of the same books I do, I feel inordinately joyful about it, and about them.