Skip to main content


Back To [Art] School

Tuesday, September 6, 2022


Hello, My Lovelies!  Welcome to the Welcome Fall Tablescape Blog Hop hosted by Sweet Rita @ Panoply!  

I love fall.  What's not to like?  The days are cooler, the skies are bluer, and everything important is flavored pumpkin spice.  I also love sweaters and sweater weather, pumpkins, college football, bonfires, and Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas.

Because I love so much about fall, it was hard for me to decide on just one theme for my tablescape.  I was inspired by two things: one of my favorite movies and a milestone from my own life:

Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.
~Joe Fox, You've Got Mail

Don't you just LOVE that movie?  It will truly put you in the fall spirit.  It inspired me to make a bouquet of paint brushes, though, because for the first time in months I was able to go back to my art class in person!  Buh-bye, ZOOM!!!

Come on into our dining room and see what I put together:

I found the plates in an email from West Elm.  I laughed for about thirty minutes when I saw them, and when I noticed that they were on sale, I bought them for less than $10.00 each.
Our daughter Shelley, also an artist, HATES them.  She's insulted because Vermeer's Girl With The Pearl Earring is a favorite of hers, and she also likes Van Gogh.

I wanted my centerpiece to be a vanitas.  I have several features seen in most vanitas paintings, like the flowers, fruit, paintbrushes, painting, and a book.  All represent fleeting worldly pursuits and ephemeral beauty.  The brevity of life is represented by the tea light candles.

According to Wikipedia, vanitas is a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death.  

“Vanitas—Still Life with Bouquet and Skull,” by Adriaen van Utrecht, circa 1642.

This genre was popular with the Dutch Old Masters, and skulls, timepieces, and withering vegetation are featured prominently in these paintings.  (My husband has a skull from school, but I decided not to use it in my vanitas).  These carry the same meaning—life is short and fleeting.  Musical, writing, and art instruments as well as symbols of wealth represent that earthly pursuits are worthless or in vain.

The wooden human figure (or maquette) used in figure drawing is what I'm using in my vanitas in lieu of a skull.  ;P

I like the painterly effect of the table runner.

Klimt, Da Vinci, Vermeer, and Van Gogh
from the Rachel Kozlowski Dapper Animal collection

The table needed a little humor to balance the vanitas!


Luncheon plates and table runner:  West Elm
Chargers, flowerpot, small compote, and votives:  MacKenzie-Childs
Small vase and napkins:  Anthropologie
Paint brushes:  Winsor & Newton and Silver Brush
Teacup and saucer painting artist:  RJ Treleaven
Flower frog and maquette: Gifts from generous friends
Water glasses:  Vintage
White wooden chargers:  Pier1
Flatware:  Horchow

Me and My Captain - Shine On Harvest Moon
Home is Where the Boat Is - Cusp of Fall with Woodland Friends
Hyacinths for the Soul - Whoooo is Ready for Autumn?
The Painted Apron - Early Fall Pumpkin Patch
From My Carolina Home - Autumn Apples Tablescape
Celebrate and Decorate - A Fall Tablescape in Shades of Blue
Living With Thanksgiving - Fall Vibes
Dinner at Eight - Mums Lead the Way to Fall
Thrifting Wonderland - It's Time for a Fall Tablescape
The Bookish Dilettante - Back to (Art) School
Life and Linda - Welcome Fall
Corner of Plaid and Paisley - Fall Tablescape - Autumn Gnome
Red Cottage Chronicles - Cozy Up Around an Autumn Dinner Table

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. Yes, I do love that quote from You've Got Mail! Your plates are hilarious, and I learned something new today - vanitas.

  2. Love the humor in your back to (art) school table Ricki Jill! Your West Elm portrait plates are a hoot and bouquets of paint brushes so appropriate! I haven’t watched ‘You’ve Got Mail’ in ages, such a fun movie. Congrats on returning to art classes in person. Happy September to you ♥

  3. RJ I love that you used the Back To School theme with art for your fall table scape. Those plates are amazing. Your table is really fun and pretty for fall. Hope your Labor Day was good. I know you are slowly healing and getting your health back. Hope that is still going well. Have a good week. xoxo Kris

  4. This is brilliant, simply brilliant. I can see your inner self awakening in this table, Ricki Jill, and I love it. Klimt and Vermeer are my favorites, lol. The fall theme of back to [art] school is also brilliant. You have a very sharp and witty mind. Welcome back to your favorite season, and for achieving your milestone! (ps yes, I loved that movie and may need to watch it again soon while waiting for the counting to Christmas. ;) ).

  5. Very clever table....all the elements are perfect together for your theme! What caught my eye are the plates and I find them amusing - as well as your little collection of M-C tea lights! Very imaginative gal!!

  6. Happy Fall!! What a pretty table and yes, as a former teacher, and a HUGE Nora Ephron fan, that is one of my favorite lines from a favorite movie.

  7. Ricki Jill, I am so happy you could return to art classes. I love your theme of Back to (Art) School and how you cleverly carried it out. The West Elm plates are quite amusing. I did love the movie and now you have put the notion in my head to see it again. It is always a treat to join you for a blog hop.

  8. Ricki Jill, what a charming table setting! I adore all your artistic accents and of course, those whimsical plates! Pinned! Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

  9. Very fun table Ricki. Those plates are a crack up! So whimsical and fun. Your table is charming with the back to art class theme. I am happy you get to go in person and not Zoom. The movie is delightful and fun. A pleasure joining you on this fall tablescape blog hop.

  10. Ricki, You have cleverly styled your autumn table and taught me several things. Very charming and you are quite witty!
    So glad you are back in art class.
    My husband could watch that movie over and over!

  11. Well this was a bit of unexpected fun!! What a great Fall theme, Back to School! I am thrilled that you are know going back to art class, I know how much you enjoy it πŸŽ‰ Of course I love your art supplies as a centerpiece and those plates are indeed hilarious, sort of in the style of Vicki Sawyer. I've never heard of vanitas... The table runner is perfect and I am all about a good sappy happy movie!

  12. Ricki Jill, what a clever, fun and unique tablescape --- I love it! Your styling a vanitas as a centerpiece is artistic genius! I have Anthropology animal plates dresses as penguins in diamonds and owls in top hats that I adore. Never seen your plates before and enjoyed the surprise. Next year we go to Holland over Easter and I can't wait to see The Girl in the Pearl Earring in person.

  13. Thank you for sharing your Back To Art School Theme

  14. I am very interested in Art,so I love this theme.

  15. Nice choice of a theme.

  16. Ricki Jill you have taken us down a different rabbit trail of tablescapes and I love it. Using paint brushes for a bouquet is so clever, I also loved the movie and when it is on, I watch it again. and again. and again.(I feel the same way about Sleepless in Seattle. I understand perfectly about healing and working to get your health back...I'm still there but with the faith I have in God's Graces ...His Will be done.

  17. Very Creative!! I love the dapper animal plates! Sorry, Shelley, the girl with the pearl earring made me laugh!! What a fun way to do back to school!! The Joe Fox quote is one of my favorites too. Happy fallπŸ‚πŸπŸ‚

  18. Ricki Jill, I have to say this is one very clever table. I absolutely love your creative approach. The paint brush bouquet is such a charming idea, and I adore the Rachel Kozlowski plates. I've seen them, and was tempted my self. The owl plates I used on my table are also West Elm Dapper animal plates, but I've had them for a number of years. Anthropomorphic art appeals to me. I may need to revisit those plates. I also may need to watch You've Got Mail again. Loved that movie as well as Sleepless in Seattle. Happy Fall, my friend. Enjoy your return to in person art classes.

  19. Your plates are a "hoot" and I really enjoyed seeing all four. An interesting and fun way to welcome Fall by showcasing a passion. So glad you are back in your class in person. Enjoyed all the information about your centerpiece. It reminds us to look more carefully at works we've seen many times. Have a lovely time painting!

  20. I think you might get this twice but loved your plates and the creative use of your passion for art as the centerpiece in your table setting. Lots of good facts about viewing a painting that I will remember the next time I am in the presence of that style of art. Enjoy your class and have a lovely Fall.

  21. I enjoyed the humor in the plates, and the message of your vanitas and how you played it out in the centerpiece. You've got mail is one of the movies that is a fall favorite. I have it on DVD and must plan to watch it this fall :)
    Happy autumn hugs, Ricki,


  22. Hello,
    I love the movie You've Got Mail!
    Flower arranging has also been playing with that style of the Dutch Old Masters.Using dead / dried flowers.

  23. I do love that quote from You've Got Mail becazue I feel the same way about the beginning of fall and school. You certainly came up with an interesting theme for the table settings. The colors certainly speak to fall. I've never heard of fajitas so I'm happy to have learned something new.

  24. It is always so exciting to be going back to classes that you obviously love. I can tell by your choice of a theme for your tablescape. I so enjoy seeing the creativity in unique themed tables like this one. Bouquets of paint brushes are just perfect, and substituting your model for the skull kept your table from being maudlin. Enjoy your classes! happy September!

  25. Paintbrushes as several "bouquets" was an inspired twist on floral centerpieces for a back to school (and art!) table. I had seen but did not know about vanitas -- though they certainly capture some of the essence of fall, I have to say I prefer your interpretation to those of the Dutch Masters. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  26. Your table is fabulous and such a great idea. I might have to try a variation on that theme someday when I have art friends over. I adore those plates. Girl with a Pearl Earring is a favorite of mine, too and I ADORED that take on it! I'm so glad that you are able to get back to classes, knowing you are feeling well and that you can be out more. I didn't know about vanitas but it's a great idea. And yours makes me smile extra big!


Comments are friendly!


I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

Follow me on Instagram