Artist Anita Helen Cohen recognizes artistic beauty in the natural environment surrounding her, translating what she sees into soft, attentive works in watercolor and pastel. Her solo exhibition "Nature's Portraits" opened on Thursday on UFG's Revolver wall, showcasing some of her floral paintings and drawings. Her complex layering of colors and delicate touch bring both exotic and local flora to life in contemplative still lifes that invite viewers to look closely while also capturing nature's intrinsic grandeur.
In conjunction with the show, Anita took the time to answer a few questions about her experiences as an artist:
How did you get started as an artist?
"Even as a kid I saw the details in things. Especially texture and color combinations. I come from a family which, although my mom and grandmother were not 'artists' in the traditional sense, had a real appreciation for design.
I used to sketch with pencils, copying photographs in books when I was very young. I loved doing it - the satisfaction of getting the shading 'right' or the shape 'right.' When my family took a car trip, I'd sit in the back seat and draw. Hours went by. I was totally engrossed.
When I was about 12, I lived within walking distance of an art supply store. Going there was heaven for me: touching the paper, touching the tubes of paint, spending whole Saturday afternoons there by myself asking questions about this or that paper or medium. I probably drove the owner crazy but that's how I started learning. I actually think he enjoyed it as much as I did!"
Have you seen your work change or evolve over the course of your career? Are there any new subjects or media you'd like to try in the future?
"My work has definitely evolved and changed through the years. Although I will say that the subject matter - primarily florals - has not. I have studied drawing the last three years and I think that has helped me paint with more depth. The shapes, lines, contours, shadows within each painting are more proactive, more controlled. I have learned to 'see' my subject better and translate what I see to the page.
I'd like to do more abstract painting - to take my floral theme to a different level. I have done some abstract painting in the past, but would like to get back to it.
I'm currently doing more drawing and love it. Using charcoal pencil and graphite. I have also done pastels in the last year. I love the intensity of color of pastels, and mixing them together on the paper."
What is it about natural subjects that interests you? Are there certain environments or plants that especially inspire you?
"Nature - leaves and flowers have always… well… just knocked me out. There are entire worlds to paint if you look inside the center of a flower, or an elm seed, or really look at the curves of leaves. The flowers, plants, leaves that inspire me the most are the ones with lots of texture and unusual color: curly edges, frilly edges. Subtlety and nuances of color are an endless source of joy to look at and paint. Generally, after I return from a trip, I pick or buy flowers before I buy groceries!"
Visit UFG to see these beautiful works yourself! "Anita Helen Cohen: Nature's Portraits" runs from June 13 to July 14, 2013. The reception is tonight, June 14, from 6-8pm.