Why I Take Breaks from Flowers

Flowers are often the theme in my paintings. When given a meaning, I get lost in the flowers as I paint them and recreate them. However, from time to time I have to take a break from them. My 2018 flower paintings are mystical, vibrant, and very popular, but a few things happened in the matter of a few months. 

©February2018, Francesca Bandino,  The Heads of Roses . Acrylic on Stretched Canvas, 24x30x.8 inches

©February2018, Francesca Bandino, The Heads of Roses. Acrylic on Stretched Canvas, 24x30x.8 inches

My story starts in May and June of 2018. I had a solo exhibition at the Park Ridge Public Library in New Jersey called “Flowers and Their Meanings.” Obviously, the exhibition was filled with my paintings of flowers - 17 to be exact. Some were paintings I had created in 2017, but others were paintings I had created in the months before the exhibition in 2018. Because I was so concentrated on creating flowers, my mind had little opportunity to venture elsewhere. I create best when I work in a series with a clear objective, so even though I did create a few non-floral pieces, they weren’t quite so successful. I truly enjoyed creating these for my show, but I found myself craving something new. 

Also in May the New York Times published an article about an exhibition happening at the New York Botanical Garden - “Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaiʻi,” an exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s unknown paintings. Two days later I was exhibiting in Washington Square Park and among my paintings were select pieces from my Bird of Paradise collection. I was compared to O’Keeffe by passers-by all weekend long. Even though I had heard an Artsy podcast about these pieces months before, I had no idea that the exhibition would start around that time or that it was going to be featured in the New York Times. I plan out which pieces I’l bring to each outdoor show at least a week before so that I can create a price list, pack the pieces, and remove them from my online store and my Saatchi store. In that week, I barely go on social media or read the news, so I was pretty oblivious to what was happening. 

©April2018, Francesca Bandino,  A Bright Soul . Acrylic on Canvas, 24x24x.8 inches

©April2018, Francesca Bandino, A Bright Soul. Acrylic on Canvas, 24x24x.8 inches

I have always had an independent spirit, a need to be different and unique. Back in my school days, Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the first modern artists whose names I had memorized and whose work I admired. That being said, I’ve never allowed her work to directly influence my own. She may have inspired me to the extent that I felt confident creating close-ups of flowers, but for as much as I admire her, I don’t want to be seen as a replica of her.

In July 2018 I went to the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (fortuitously adjacent to one another) in Washington, DC. In one of the exhibitions I was attracted to two bold paintings, one of abstract buildings and the other of an abstract landscape. I was shocked to discover that Georgia O’Keeffe had painted both of them! I knew that she wasn’t just a painter of flowers, but I had fallen into the trap of associating her only to those paintings.

In my tent and with my paintings at the Boardwalk Art Show

In my tent and with my paintings at the Boardwalk Art Show

A few weeks later, in August 2018, I showed my work for the second time at the Boardwalk Art Show in Ocean City, NJ. My largest painting was a 40x40 painting of orange wind chime roses called Open Fascination. Although my tent also featured paintings from the Canna Tropicanna Black series and the Apples and Temptation series, I was starting to be known as the flower lady. For the record, I once again was compared by a few people to Georgia O’Keeffe. 

While I’m not actually passionate about flowers, I do love being outside and getting that breathless feeling you get when you witness something that can only happen in nature. Flowers are part of that magic, but so are plants, trees and clouds; bodies of water, vast hills, and snow falling to the ground. Sometimes I like to contrast nature with city buildings and fashion figures. Most of all, I want to discover new ways of seeing what’s around me and how they’ll influence my imagination.

©April2017, Francesca Bandino,  Tree in Via Roma . Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40x.8 inches, $930.00

©April2017, Francesca Bandino, Tree in Via Roma. Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40x.8 inches, $930.00