Vincent Giarrano finds that painting people around NYC is “endlessly inspiring.” Discover some of his muses here.
By Vincent Giarrano
Painting New York City is endlessly inspiring. The energy is incredible. For me it’s all about the people and the architecture. The city is so monumental with its huge monoliths and vast canyons. The variety of people is immense as well—interesting, creative, cultural. There’s a serious intensity that’s all around the city, a “bigger than life” feeling.
One of my favorite areas of New York is Soho. I love the classically inspired architecture contrasted with contemporary elements; new construction, graffiti, and vibrant people. Other areas of the city are just as appealing and it’s wonderful to discover the particular character that they each possess.
The people in the city are also endlessly inspiring. I love getting to know my subjects, discovering what they’re like and seeing the environments they relate to. I once painted a fashion blogger during Fashion Week. Her room was covered in comped clothing and cosmetics, overflowing with beautiful shapes and colors. I was able to capture part of her experience while she was working on her blog, totally exhausted, reclining on the hotel bed, wearing the latest designer fashions, her laptop askew. I loved capturing her energy, interests, and the whole chaos that is her life at Fashion Week.
Narrative is a prominent element in my work. I find the questions that arise from my scenes engage the viewer and draw them in. It’s like an exploration, and that’s also one of my favorite things about being a painter—exploring and trying to figure things out. Sometimes it’s finding out about my subject, and sometimes it’s formal concerns—things about getting the composition to work and achieving the right color harmony.
One of the things I find fascinating about NYC is how it’s a continually changing and evolving environment. You’ll see scaffolding consume buildings regularly, new designs inserted into old structures, whole areas like the Hudson Yards changed. Graffiti and utility marks on the streets come and go. Runes is about these transient elements. The figure is passing through the scene, moving through this place, through life and in this moment; her form reflects the character and intensity of the steel columns.
I enjoy painting in series; it allows me to focus on a subject and explore it fully. It’s also terrific to move to another series for a change and then come back to what I was working on with a fresh perspective.
I find that painting is about appreciating the beauty and wonder that surrounds us. As an artist, slowing down and capturing beautiful moments allows me to appreciate and share what’s amazing about life.
Inspiration for Painting People in NYC
For the past few years I’ve been working on a series of paintings about clothing. Like architecture, clothing appeals to me as a classic subject. It has a vast history, yet it also has so much to do with contemporary life. For “The Designer,” I worked with clothing designer Chong Cha. The main thing I wanted to portray was a sincere moment of her working day. Her studio environment was just what I was looking for: interesting tools of the trade, unique shapes, patterns and complex color.
“Communiqué” is about technology’s isolating effect, which is contrary to its purpose. The newspaper was an important element for me; it represents the older type of communication in contrast to the newer. Another aspect in my paintings about technology are reflections. I see this as a parallel to new forms of communication, like cell phones and texting—there’s information but it’s disconnected and sometimes unclear, not like talking in person or seeing something directly. For that reason, I like to push these reflections toward the abstract.
“Purple Doorway” was inspired by this colorful entryway, a contemporary color on a classic structure. It pops in an otherwise muted environment. I often feature colors, like purple or blue, which I feel give an impression of life today.
“City Girl” was chosen to be in the Outwin Boochever Competition for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The competition is about redefining portraiture. I entered this painting because it speaks about the subject’s character and lifestyle yet without showing her face.
Learn more about Vincent Giarrano at: www.giarrano.com
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