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.
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.
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.