Small Works Winner: Why Vitamins?

Vitamins 6 by Amy Ordoveza (click for larger image)

Vitamins 6 by Amy Ordoveza (click for larger image)

Vitamins 6, above, is the latest in an ongoing series of still life paintings by Amy Ordoveza. It’s also the painting that juror James Farrah recognized with a second place award in the “Small Works” exhibit this month. Why vitamins? Find out in our Q&A with the artist, below.

Vitamins 1 through Vitamins 5, top to bottom

Vitamins 1 through Vitamins 5, top to bottom

What inspired the “Vitamins” series of still lifes? How does Vitamins 6 compare to the others?
Amy Ordoveza: I think of vitamins as a kind of contemporary vanitas symbol, representing a desire to protect life and health and an awareness of their impermanence. Periodically, studies are published that call the effectiveness of vitamins into question, but along with many other people, I still take them, hoping they will protect me, almost magically.I paint them so that they appear precious and a little bit magical. The first painting in the series was more of a traditional tabletop still life. Subsequent paintings have shown the vitamins on colored grounds in a less defined space, and in one the vitamin is held in the palm of a hand. I’ve become more precise in handling the paint as the series has progressed.

Why are you a painter?
I began studying art seriously when I was a teenager. Painting and drawing have become important parts of the way I think. I like the way painting allows me to give an idea a physical presence.

Do you paint full-time?
No, I also teach art for Fairfax County Public Schools.

Why gouache?
I was inspired to start using gouache after seeing “Worlds within Worlds,” an exhibit of Mughal and Persian folios and paintings at the Sackler in 2012. I noticed the way that the Mughal and Persian artists were able achieve rich colors and fine detail in gouache and decided to give it a try.I found that it is an excellent medium, especially for small paintings. I am able to build up the painting in translucent layers and refine edges, similarly to the way I use oil paint, but with a much faster drying time.

What are you working on now?
I am working on a landscape in oils and another small gouache painting in the Vitamins series.

“Small Works” is open through Monday, December 1.

Vitamins 3 (detail) by Amy Ordoveza

Vitamins 3 (detail) by Amy Ordoveza

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