20” x 20”
Acrylic on Paper
I haven’t had a relationship with orange hues in decades but while shopping I discovered a tangerine velvet that haunted me for weeks and inspired this collection of flora and fauna. Much of the brilliant orange animals we see are often striped and speckled with black, which, while appealing to most eyes, for me is distracting, and so only the clownfish and the salamander represent this pattern. Instead when I ‘feel’ this tangerine hue it is against and in coordination with white and yellow, like an orange creamsicle. This is a sweet orange, an inviting orange rather than the alarming phenotypes of poisonous and venomous animals. Four orange and white nudibranches frame a golden tamarin monkey and Guianan cock-of-the-rock bird. The central long armed octopus is more artistically rendered than I usually allow myself to paint: while the length of arms and general shape fit the larger octopuses of the Pacific, the translucent body and bright orange and deep ochre spots are inspired by tiny juvenile octopuses. This cephalopod wears a kind of flower crown of orchids, tiger lilies, and various succulents interspersed with poppies and chrysanthemums. Spilling down are nasturtiums from my own backyard and peeping out are also two poison dart frogs.
I compose my paintings after sometimes weeks of study, positioning each element as if this arrangement had spontaneously erupted. While I ignore scale and often paint microscopic life larger than objects as large as several feet, I make every attempt to weave them into a three dimensional arrangement that has integrity. This was especially challenging for the tangerine octopus to grasp and intertwine with flowers and animals while twisting as it would in nature. More liberties are taken with vines and trailing flowers like the nasturtium to evoke an art nouveau style. Finally, my pieces are always laid out on an initial geometric frame, using concentric and intersecting circles to guide these elements into a superficially symmetric pattern which breaks down into a more baroque naturalism the closer you look.