art for home

Studio Life

Besides the Color and Design work that I do for my clients, much of my time is spent in my studio painting.

This is a short video that describes the process of developing the concepts, compositions, and color palette that goes into the artwork.

Art, Color and More Art

How I design spaces with color as probably has a lot to do with my background as an artist. Conversely, I've noticed these different design projects for clients, the spaces themselves; creep back into my art work. Fascination with architectural form fuels the subject matter of my paintings, while the particular way I try to enhance environments comes from the way I understand spatial composition, color and proportion learned from studying painting.

One example is the home of one of my clients in Santa Monica. It's a beautiful contemporary three-story building with open space that lets light spill in from the third floor all the way to the first. As you look up the upper ceiling forms a sweeping curve and is clad with a warm tongue and groove wood. Sailing down back to the ground floor is a large flue that extracts the smoke from the fireplace. The upper two floors look onto the main living area with half walls that not only let the natural light everywhere but give the wonderful feeling of expansiveness; the same way you feel the open sky when you lean over the side of a ship. 

I tried to enhance these qualities with color. Two elements in particular that nagged at me were the wonderful orange tone of the vaulted ceiling wasn't relating to anything of the same color family. It had no one to "speak" to. For the flue, I designed a custom color metallic copper paint. Instead of apologizing for itself when it was painted the same hue as the wall in back of it, it is now a proud feature in the room.

Back to painting, some of the feelings I try convey in my painting are the moments that you feel standing in a new space before you become "used to it". The time when you walk up a staircase for the first time with the anticipation of what you'll find at the top of the landing.  

There was a a particular place on the second floor that struck me enough to do a painting. It was a place where all the different planes, some enhanced by different colors, converged. The contrast of the zig zagging perpendicular lines, the wood ceiling curving to make an arch on the tallest wall gave me a serene feeling mixed with exhilaration, I wanted to capture it in a painting.



Bark Painting No. 6

"Bark Painting #6" by Nathalie Tierce

This painting that is the sixth in a series I've been working on called "Bark Paintings". This time, however, the result is  a departure from the others.

Using textures I acquire through taking pictures of bark, I use those digital samples like brushes to create imagery, fine tuning shape, color and line with smaller digital brushes.

This is one of my photographs taken of a tree's surface that I extract texture samples from and use repeatedly. As I develop it, I paint into the forms giving more precise detail and color

Up till now, the forms within the paintings, although full of detail, were very subjective.  Some viewers saw animals, architectural detail, it really depended on who was looking. The overall subject matter was open to interpretation.

"Bark Painting #5" Nathalie Tierce

While working on this piece, a narrative began to in my mind as I was painting it over many weeks. Little by little I discovered this particular character that was laid to rest and fossilized becoming one with a tree that had grown above.

As I painted, a face began to emerge that made me think of the Lion from the Wizard of Oz mixed with a strange solider whose elaborate uniform I spent much time embellishing.

The face and persona was really like a search and discovery mission. Sometimes my painting efforts brought me someplace that was just wrong. Without a solid preconceived idea of a title, story or theme I knew when I was getting closer or not.

The interesting part now is starting the next painting from where this one left me off. 

Wildlife Painting

"A Cheetah for Maks" by Nathalie Tierce

One of the thrills I get when I start a new commission is I usually discover something new about the subject. Whether it's a place, a person or an abstract that needs to reflect and speak to a specific space where it will be hung, there's always the learning aspect to it.

This time the subject was wildlife, specifically a cheetah. In my mind I roughly had an image of what one looked like. As I started to study the subject I realized I had melded a leopard and cheetah into one animal. 

In the excitement of wanting to get started; I jumped in and began a sketch of what I quickly found out was a leopard (as seen below).

"Leopard" sketch by Nathalie Tierce

"Leopard" sketch by Nathalie Tierce

Research and preliminary drawings are a crucial part of the process when I'm beginning a project so all is not lost when something like this happens. Outside of making sure that the details of the subject are correct (like getting the right species!) a quick painting like this is a handy guide for determining the mood, palette and style. In this case, a more restrained color range was chosen in the end which created focus on the cheetah's lovely pattern.