Fire Tulips, oil and silver leaf on board, 17 by 17 inches framed
Meadow Brown Butterflies on Thistle, oil on panel, 7 by 7 inches framed
The term “still life” naturally invokes in most of us an image of a compositional set-piece: a table perhaps with glassware, fruits, flowers, or even game elegantly arranged. This is the inevitable legacy of the great period of still life paintings in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In this tradition, the viewer’s attention is focused not upon the various items involved but upon the artist’s skill in arranging them and reproducing the textures of the objects or the light glinting off the glass or silver surfaces. The individual objects exist only as part of a larger image, in which the objects are suborned to the aesthetic qualities of the overall composition. In many cases, the objects arranged assume a higher symbolic significance as, for instance, representations of transience, mortality, or human vanity. In the tradition of trompe l’oeil painting, likewise, the focus is upon the skill of the artist in realistically representing the scene.
In the paintings of Bridget Bossart van Otterloo, however, our interest in the object depicted is seldom compromised by the aesthetics of the composition. Nor do the objects suggest a meaning beyond the things themselves. If her paintings hearken back to an earlier still-life tradition, they are perhaps more closely aligned perhaps to the tradition of scientific illustration. But the aim of the artist is never mere documentation, as it is in the case of the illustrator.
Van Otterloo’s still life paintings are rather acts of praise for the sheer beauty of the object beheld. We view the objects - be they plant, animal, or both - at close quarters, sometimes magnified. If there is a table, ledge, or container, the artist seems at pains to efface it, as in her portrayal of pomegranates, where background and foreground become almost indistinguishable. And the characteristics of the composition are usually the curvatures and elegance of the natural forms themselves.
The artist notes that she seldom paints from photographs but from an intense observation of her subject, a fact we might have garnered from just looking at her work. This is not to say that van Otterloo’s paintings lack an artistic presence. Her brushstrokes, particularly in the background, are broad and her manner often loose. Her presence is also apparent in the intense coloration and in the brilliant light which pervades the painting. The latter is often achieved by the artist’s use of a metallic background, which pushes the objects forward, giving them a more imposing presence and making the work seem to glow from within. The artist’s energetic brushwork, like her brilliant coloration, create a mood of joyous exuberance. We feel artist’s presence in the rapture with which she approaches nature’s beauty.
Sunrise Amaryllis, oil on board, 22 by 18 inches framed
Home Sweet Home, oil on panel, 17.75 by 14.75 inches framed;
Pledge of Love, oil on board, 29 by 17 inches framed
Twilight Irises, oil on board, 25 by 17 inches framed
Nest, oil and copper leaf on panel, 12 by 14 inches framed
Bonfire Moon, oil and silver leaf on board, 29 by 23 inches framed
Prices available on request