Recently I’ve been working on a painting inspired by the post-impressionist French painter Édouard Vuillard. I am really drawn to his work – so full of colour and pattern! Vuillard was a member of the Les Nabis group, including Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Paul Sérusieer, Félix Vallotton and Édouard Vuillard. What draws me to Vuillard and Bonnard especially is their depiction of the everyday, infused with a delightful patchwork of colour.
Bonnard and Vuillard’s “intimism” drew from the everyday, forcing us to reconsider the beauty of our household objects and unthinking rituals.
I chose the The Flowered Dress, by Vuillard as my inspiration. This painting depicts the artist’s mother, a dressmaker and presumably her employees at work. This busy composition, in a profusion of greens, feels like it shouldn’t work, yet it works so well at leading the viewer around the canvas – from the mother in the strikingly patterned dress, to the peach fabric on the mantle piece, the reflection in the mirror and back to the mother.
In my piece, I began with a reference photo I’d taken of a woman half turned to look towards a window. Beginning here, I set out with a desire to add pattern as much as I could whilst keeping a balanced composition. My reference had a woman seated in t-shirt and trousers, so you can see how far I took this, adding visually but also adding a sense of narrative. I deliberately gave the painting a green palette and used The Flowered Dress as a direct reference in my back wall pattern.
I really enjoyed painting this, playing with what I could add, even, at times, painting in and then removing whole patterns which dominated the composition. I look forward to bringing more pattern and colour into future pieces.
The final painting, entitled, ‘Sometimes I Still Think of You’ is 40 x 50cm, oil on gesso panel. Please drop me a line if you’re interested in purchasing or would like to talk about a commission.