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Monday, August 14, 2017

Samantha French

One of my favorites from Samantha French. I could find no
title but when it's this hot and humid, who needs titles.
Hot enough for ya? That's an old, probably outdated, greeting I've heard all my life about this time of year. August is said to be the hottest month of the year, at least here in the Midwestern part of the United States. Actually, we've been having a relatively mild summer with temperatures seldom reaching ninety degrees. However, in some parts of Europe they're climbing well past one-hundred degrees. With those poor souls in mind, let me send everyone some refreshing art to cool your minds, if not your bodies--the work of the Minnesota-born painter Samantha French. Guys, get out your Speedos, girls, your bikinis and SPF 50, things could get a little damp around here.

The scale of Samantha French's work is at first disconcerting, but their size serves to underline the abstract qualities which originate from aquatic distortion to balance the realism.
Deep Dive, Samantha French
Samantha French looks and is young, probably one of the youngest artists I've ever featured. She was born in 1983, which makes her thirty-four at the moment. She was raised in north-central Minnesota, and graduated from the Minneapolis Col-lege of Art and Design in 2005. French’s work ex-plores the tranquility and nostalgia of the lazy summer days of her childhood. Her paintings are inspired by her re-flections and memories of her childhood summers spent in the lakes of Northern Minnesota. She attempts to recreate the quiet tranquility of water and nature of still, peaceful days spent sinking and swimming. Her paintings are a link to her home and the feeling of the sun on warm summer days at the lake. They are a form of escape, a subtle reprieve from the day-to-day. At the same time, she is drawn to an idealistic time in the past, when swim caps and wool swimsuits were commonplace. This combination of memory, observation, and her own underwater photography has allowed her to preserve the transitory qualities of water and remembrance.

Endless Summer, Samantha French
Samantha has a stunning impressionistic style utilizing loose brush strokes and vibrant colors in her paintings. In College, French found painting to be the most challenging medium, but also the most rewarding. Having grown up in a small town, she never really thought of painting as a career. It didn’t seem like there were many opportunities outside of teaching or advertising. But once she saw that it could be a reality, she worked hard to make it so. Today, French actively exhibits her paintings and is included in many private and public collections throughout the country. Her work has garnered extensive international and national press. She is a full-time painter and keeps a studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Like most artists today, Samantha French is the biggest
collector of her works.
French considers herself fortunate to have the opportunity to control her own business. Her original paintings are at a price point that isn’t affordable for a lot of people, so making her work accessible via prints is important for the growth of her name. French notes that many of her patrons have reached out to her once they buy a certain piece so that the constant connection with her collectors helps her understand what her paintings mean to others, allowing her to avoid working in a vacuum.

Top: Dive In, Float. Middle: Refresh. Bottom: Breakthrough.
French has always loved painting figures. The first “water” piece came from an old photograph of her mother and aunt at a lake when she was still a baby. With that element of nostalgia, as well as the fascinating abstracted reflections in the water, she immediately knew she had found something that deeply resonated within her. Her work then was slightly more ethereal and less structured than it is now, but the progression that followed to underwater swimmers came naturally. Like a chain reaction, French found that every painting led to something better in the next. Her developing technique came from building one painting upon the next in a progression that finds her still learning with every completed painting.

Two, Samantha French
After moving to New York her natural progression evolved into pool imagery and the need to control her own photography. French started taking photos of people swimming from above. Soon after, she bought an underwater case for her camera, which transformed her work into what we see today. Her paintings are now based mostly on pools, causing them to reflect more of a mid-century, Southern California aesthetics. Yet they remain coupled with her memories and the feelings from her childhood summers, just slightly idealized and adapted to the life she leads now. She notes that pool waters allow for better reflections, which now play an important role in her painting. Although she remains a figurative painter, the reflections and refracted light add an abstract quality to her work.

Indian Summer, Samantha French--the Southern California aesthetic.
P.S. She also paints dry archers.













































 

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