Flowers and Urban Landscapes?

February 22, 2009
work in progress, in-studio study from life, acrlyic on canvas, 16x20
work in progress, in-studio study from life, acrlyic on canvas, 16×20

 This is an acrylic I started last night. I don’t often exhibit my flower paintings, mainly because most gallery directors and curators that I’ve worked with expect urban landscapes from me. Every now and then I’ll have one in a show and I’ll always hear “I didn’t know you painted flowers, or still life, etc.”  It’s almost as if an artist who paints one subject should not stray into another–quite honestly, it’s all the same to me as far as approach is concerned. I look for repeating shapes, colors and patterns to develop my composition. The painting begins with a study of form and value as a monochromatic underpainting, color layers are placed on top using the complements to provide color variation in the shadows. I try to use as few brushstrokes as possible, keeping them bold and loose only to suggest what may be there as opposed to replicate to a highly realistic level of detail.

I think painting flowers actually strengthens my ability with urban landscapes. It’s always good to take a break from your primary body of work just to stay fresh. Also, I have the opportunity to explore different color palettes that may at some point migrate into my urban landscapes. Another thing the flower paintings do is allow me to paint directly from life. I have to use my photos as departure points for the urban landscapes, it just is not logistically possible for me to paint in the middle of NYC. Painting from life keeps my sense of color fine-tuned to the way it appears in the real world, it also keeps my drawing skills in their best form.

However, the urban landscape also has an effect on the flowers–my flower paintings aren’t meant to be “pretty” in a delicate way, instead they are bold and have a solid structure to them similar to the architecture in an urban landscape.

Anyhow, I think it is good to vary your subject matter, even if you choose as I do to primarily focus on one area as your main body of work. The urban landscape interests me in a way that is different than the flower paintings, it’s difficult to describe other than to say I relate to the content (subject) on a different level. The flowers are purely visual studies, the urban landscape has intangible qualities of mood and atmosphere, that is what I find so appealing about it as a subject.