Alena Rumak displays a nice blend of modernism and nature in English Rose. Soft colors and harsh lines are coupled together to give an emotional response of fragility to the piece. The artist has taken creative measures to ensure that the subject matter is presented dynamically. These measures include the background to foreground relations, the textural differences, and the shadows and highlight placement of the oils used in the piece.

Like other pieces created by Alena Rumak, the subject of the painting is presented in high contrast to the background. When looking at English Rose, the viewer will notice that there is a post modernistic aesthetic about it. The pinks and the blues meet, but do not do so in a traditional sense. Instead, the blues in the background are used to highlight the rose with splashes of the color added to the rest of the background to merge the two colors together. The pink of the background is primarily used in the top corner to give the illusion of sunlight.

Notice that the paint used for the background is largely duotone in its application. And while this is nothing new to painting, for example Mark Rothko’s paintings with oil on canvas, it does showcase the artistic ability to make use of the canvas and direct the eye throughout the piece by the application and density of the colors used rather than by the number of different hues which could have been applied.

The second major element which drives this piece to give the rose a sense of fragility is the use of texture with the oils. The viewer will see that the background and the rose differ dramatically. The background has a mixture of lines, layers, and a roughness about it. However, the rose does not have this technique applied. Instead, the rose was created with a deliberate focus on the smoothness of the paint. Like a natural rose, the brushstrokes are a bit harsher on the leaves then on the flower. Yet, even with this difference, there is not a harshness about the subject matter.

Perhaps the biggest force of impact concerning English Rose, is the illusion of shadows and lighting. As mentioned earlier, the pink gives the impression of sunlight. Alena Rumak goes a step further with creating the highlights and showcasing the rose by placing lighter colors on the opposite side of the light source. Where normally the shadow would be aligned with the source of the sun, by placing the shadows and highlights on the opposite side, the rose takes on a glow, forcing the viewers eye to the focal point, the rose.

Most of your paintings are of nature, specifically plants and flowers, presented in a very specific style. Can you elaborate on any other artist’s influences on your painting style that you have?

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of many of my favourite artists. His still life has been a strong inspiration for me. When it comes to Landscape I get inspiration from the artwork and style of Joan Eardley a Scottish artist.


The rose in this painting is not in full bloom, giving off a sense of anticipation and yearning. When picking the subject matter for this piece, were there any emotions/feelings which you wanted the viewer to experience?

I wanted the viewer to experience positive emotions like tenderness, warmth, adoration and desire.


Please describe your creative process used for creating this piece.

The idea to create this painting came spontaneously after spying this beautiful rose in my Mums garden. The process of painting began with the application of coarse gesso, to create a rough textured background. After sketching out I applied colour using a palette knife and brushes. The painting was completed in one session.


View more work by Alena Rumak


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