Girl with Flowers is a series that was started as an idea while Luque was living in Albuquerque, NM. Luque found beauty in the botanical gardens while he was there. "It was a magical and enchanting to see the vibrant colors of all the flowers in the dry desert climate; something that was not familiar from living on the green east coast. Flowers are very symbolic and powerful in form. It is emphasized in that they are of a only moment lasting beauty. I think that they remind us of the beautiful moment but also of the returning of it. They will grow to share their beauty and then wither away." It is understanding why we put so much symbolism into all of the different type of flowers. The diversity and the brilliance of how unique they are to different climates and temperatures gives essence to the strength they have. They are a reminder that we need to stay connected to the earth around us “Stop and smell the flowers”.
It was this that made Luque start painting again. A love was found painting flowers. They were his muse. He looked at the different shapes, colors, and shadows from photographs he took at the botanical gardens and was excited to paint these inspiring images. There was a comfort in not having to worry about the accuracy. “Who cares if it looked like the photo” is what he thought. With figurative work, there is a constant battle in to making sure that the piece is recognizable. Fighting to make sure that line and shadow is in the right spot, is always occurring through out the work. If you are off just a bit, the painting no longer is recognized as the person. Not saying that it doesn't look like anybody, but there is an importance that it looks as the person where as it is recognizable to someone that knows them. However it is that painting has to give off an essence of who it is also. All of this puts more stress on figurative and portrait painting. Luque didn't have the burden of this on his mind when he painted flowers. It was so enjoyable and free to him. Luque didn't care if the flower was in proportion or if it was the right shape. Jeffrey just drew from the photograph to give a loose idea of how it was going to be painted and then would spend only about the beginning of the actual painting with the photo to give him an idea of shadowing. Luque then could focus directly on the painting in front of him.
Luque painted many flower paintings while he was living in Albuquerque. Jeffrey found more freedom and comfort with himself as a painter. He grew in his work just by letting himself do whatever he wanted. "There is something I started to add to my paintings. I have a love for Byzantine alter pieces. I love how the gold leaf would give a beautiful silhouette to the subject. I wanted to give my work the same feeling. I started adding metal leaf to my flower paintings. I wanted to give that same feeling but take away the religious connotation. The subject had more life to it. It changed the piece as you viewed it from different angles and in different light. I have always loved darkly shadowed pieces and the metal leaf complimented my work perfectly. I would look at it as gold being neutral, silver cool and copper and bronze being warm."
Luques paintings are filled with multiple layers. Bold bright vibrant colors are something that Jeffrey is driven to using on his work. "I will use layer of layer of paints to bring my work to the place where I want it. Under painting is a tool that many painters use. It can help with depth and contrast. I use many unmixed colors in my under paintings. Separating out all of the subjects in the area of the canvas with these vibrant colors. Necessity in choosing which colors to be used was more of how it interacted to the color next to it. My under paintings are filled with vibrantly monochromatic areas. I want to start separating everything in an early stage. Depth is paramount in my paintings. This separation of shapes help give the viewers eye more information to fall into."
Pointillism is not something that Luque set out to do. "I have heard some people say fractals in regards to my work also. It is a technique that came out of through the direct development of the process of painting. It was became a part of a solution that I had problems with the way I developed my paintings. Line and form, deciding what line will be in focus and how the eye will move with it, separating everything with a vibrant under painting, building the layers upon this base, this is where I was finding a problem with my process. Shading the vibrant colors was not turning the results that I wanted. I started to put bright white dots and squiggles as the highlights to pull them forward. I would always go back to those squiggles and dots as I painted. It just felt natural to me."
Luque is now sitting in his studio in Jacksonville, FL with his finished series around him; a series which is the direct result of Jeffreys exploration while painting in Albuquerque, NM. "Looking back, it seems like yesterday when I came up with the idea that started this. I was heading up to Ski Santa Fe to enjoy the day with friends. I had this thought in my mind, I need to get back to figures. My comfort level in painting has grown and now is the time to start going back to the importance of accuracy for representation. I looked at a friend and wanted to do a massive portrait with flowers on her head. I asked her and she said O.K. It never happened . Ski season was on and I spent the winter on my teles. After the season I wanted to move back closer to my mother and brother. I packed up everything and moved back to Jacksonville. One thing for sure was that I was going to dive deeper into my work and envelop myself into the art scene."
Luque was very lucky to get himself into an artist studio at CoRK Arts district. This is where his series physically started. The idea is now starting to have physical substance. He asked his studio mate if she would want to be the first one. Her intern was there holding the flowers and Luque asked her if she would want to be the second. He was posting progress pictures and #3 sent me a message on facebook and volunteered to be one. Her daughter was with her when she came by to be photographed and Jeffrey asked her if her daughter would like to be one too. Luque was then photographing #3 & #4 at the same time. Mother and daughter.#2's best friend was in town for the Christmas holidays and wanted her to see the painting that I did. I asked her also. #5 is the best friend of #2. CoRK Arts District has a once a year Open Studios where all the buildings are open to the public. Jeffrey saw a beautiful woman walking around the gallery area. He circled her and asked if she would want to be apart of the series. They became friends and Jeffrey photographed her for #6. He spent more and more time with her and Jeffrey fell deeply in love with her and she fell in love with him. #6 is his love. I did not have anyone lined up after #6. Luque made a post looking for volunteers for the next 2. #7 was a suggestion from a photographer friend. When I had a show for the first 5, He had someone asked if she could interview him. She put her name in and Luque definitely included her in it. #8 interviewed me. It was getting close to another Open Studios and he wanted to have #9 started drawing on the wall. I did not have anyone lined up for it. Jeffrey had a canvas ready to draw on with no subject. He gave up on hope that it was going to happen and he spoke too soon. One of the local daily shows was doing a segment on the event a couple of days before. There was an intern and
He had a fellow artists wife ask her to see if she would want to be apart of it. She said yes and when they finished with the story, Jeffrey set up his camera, placed flowers on her head and she became painting #9. #10 is apart of the art fashion music community here. Luque asked her and she became #10. A co-worker from the bike shop that he worked at would make an effort to see my openings. He brought his then girlfriend, now wife to an art show and he asked if she would be one. She said yes becoming #11. Jeffrey wanted to have him and his mother pick through the photographs and choose which one He was going to use for the painting of #11.
A couple of months from now the series will be complete. Luquel uses the process that I have developed to finish the last painting. "It will be drawn out and then break down the graphite with Turpenoid. The metal leaf silhouette is added during the early stages. I do not plan which leaf I use. It has always been pretty impulsive and waiting to decide when I am actually applying it. I take into account of how the mood of the drawing is if I want the silhouette to be neutral, warm, and/or cool. After this I will paint the face phthalo green. This is what all of the pieces have gone through to this point. From there I paint the face as if a very bad spray tan or too much time in a tanning booth. This is where the pointillism and fractals come into play. I use colors straight from tubes or slightly tinted with different whites as dots, lines, squiggles, shapes, circles, or what ever that all combined brings the face to life. I choose the base colors of the flowers to help accentuate the face and how they work with the metal leaf. They too go through the same process as the face, but I give them more freedom of brushstroke size. The painting is built upon over and over until I get to a point where I consider it finished."
The first initial view is from the distance where the viewer sees a larger than life portrait of a woman adorn with flowers with a displaced look in the eyes. As the viewer walks closer, elements become forward that were not seen before. Abstract elements start to explode forward the closer the viewer becomes to it. As the viewer walks away, the painting will never look the same as when they first look at it. They will know there are deep undertones within.
The paintings are all 72” x 58” and Luque wanted to have them purposely overpowering in size. The large portraits all have a displaced gaze as if someone is staring off not necessarily at anything but deep in thought. With 12 of these paintings and the gazes in all different directions will give the viewer emotional experiences. Women adorn with flowers deep in thought. The viewer will first see this as the come upon them from a distance. As they get closer and closer then they will see all the abstract shapes and colors that make up the painting. The viewer will get taken away from the portrait and then captured by all of the fractals, scribbles, points, shapes, in all different colors. As the viewer walks away, all of those details come together congruently and they see the painting as they first see it. But there is one thing, they now know all of those small abstract details that give form to the painting. It is different for them compared to the first because they know so much more about it.
Shallowness is only dependent of the viewer. It is up to them to see how much they want to see into someone. We put stipulations and judgment on people without looking beyond the surface we see from a distant. We put ideals upon people as assumption with out proof is second nature to us. What makes us up inside is incredibly more beautiful then what is seen from a distance. We are all beautiful flowers that are made up from all the experiences that have been in our lives.
We perceive what we want something to be without knowing what lies deep within it. Once we become open to look inside, the preconceived ideas are gone and then we can see the true beauty of the essence of what it is.
What do you think the women are thinking as you look at them gazing away?
Jeffrey Luque Art, CoRK Arts District, 2689 Rosselle St, Jacksonville, FL 32204