This week’s stunning cover, a beautiful bouquet in honor of Passover and Easter, was created by Croatian-born artist Anna Jurinich. Here, she discusses the meaning behind this week’s cover art, flying a flag at Rockefeller Center and more.
What inspired you to paint “Bouquet of a Lifetime” and what is the significance of its name?
The title “Bouquet of a Lifetime” came to me as soon I visualized this painting in my mind. The different bouquets of flowers that have accumulated in my studio over time gave me the idea to paint fresh flowers and dry flowers together in one huge bouquet. Truly I find beauty in both. Fresh flowers are magical and challenging to paint, however dry flowers, to me, are a comfort zone. The colors are warmer and the whole experience more forgiving as each petal and leaf falls differently than the other. It is a painting of an abundant bouquet, one that is overflowing from a vase that is visually too small for it. I wanted to do a painting where a viewer observing all the details in it brings memories of beautiful bouquets in their own lifetime.
How was this piece created?
This painting is a 30-inch x 40-inch canvas and took about five months to complete. I worked during the winter months and took advantage of my local supermarket’s fresh flowers. To represent the passage of time, I painted the water a soft yellow hue which gives it a golden highlight when the sun hits it. The table is of glass as I did not want any heavy feel but rather everything being part of the sky, clouds, reflection and airy. The bouquet itself is made up of different smaller bouquets that can be identified with ribbons, rubber bands, etc. There is a love note among the leaves and about six different birds. Birds always find themselves in my work, and I don’t have a clear idea why except that I feel they are creatures that understand more than we do. The first drones looking at us from a high altitude. In “Bouquet of a Lifetime,” I think they represent vigilant companions.
How would you describe your art style, and how did you develop it?
I work directly from life or completely from my imagination, and very rarely use photographs. There is no substitute for working from life, but working from my imagination has no bounds and can take me to the end of the universe. This duality is evident also in what I paint. I paint flowers every year because they happen to show up at my doorstep leaving me feeling guilty if I don’t paint them every year when they appear. My other works are inspired by words, music and world events. Music is on always in my studio, helping me emotionally to transfer that feeling to the subject that I’m working on from my imagination. Words are powerful in their own right. One of the first words that inspired a painting was “stop.” The graphic design for this painting has carried over to three more paintings with similar themes. World events are the subjects that inspire me the most, as I choose that theme to be my voice. It’s not just a painting, it’s who I am and what I want to represent me when I’m gone. A great teacher, Marvin Israel once said, “A true artist has to represent the time they live in.” I thought that would never be me, as all I loved then was Renaissance art.
In my 20s, I went to Florence for three years, working three jobs so that I could stay there as long as I could. I progressed and now I feel I paint what is happening today. When something triggers an idea for a painting, the image that first comes to my mind stays. That is the painting that I proceed to do with minimal changes. I think that is when the eye and mind have nowhere to go but to the inner truth; a minute later the mind starts to analyze and other things come into play, losing that initial clarity. I don’t design the page or lay out the colors, shadows, highlights the traditional way, I just start to paint directly and finish that figure and then to the next figure, et cetera. My work has a surreal feel, and lately, more than ever, it questions how we look from space to someone who would be observing us. The painting that I’m working on now is of a bouquet of “out of space” flowers sent to us from an alien planet letting us know that we are special, we are a gift, we are needed and essential to the balance of everything that is everything. It’s another painting of love expressed with flowers.
What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of?
I exhibited in the Hamptons for many years, specifically at the Peter Marcelle Gallery, MM Fine Art, Elaine Benson Gallery, Southampton Arts Center, EECollected and was included in four Heckscher Museum biennials, receiving the Award of Merit in 2020. However, the artistic accomplishment I am most proud of is a children’s book I wrote and illustrated titled The Christmas Odd Box. I was inspired by my Christmas ornaments when I placed all the different ones in one box, realizing the dilemma this will create, I proceeded to illustrating the cover and eventually 20 illustrations. It took me 10 years to complete something I could have done in three years, but life takes over. Ten years for a self-motivated project is a long time, but my determination to finish it is what I am most proud of accomplishing. I was interviewed on TV — The Writer’s Dream program. It can be seen on YouTube.
A more recent honor was a complete surprise as I entered this competition on a whim. During our last snowstorm, I sculpted from the snow a woman figure sitting on our back deck and writing a note to us humans. The note said, “Dear People, it’s such a joy to visit with you but I’m not sure if I will be able to come again as what sustains me is disappearing. Our destinies are interwoven. You might not be here anymore anyway. Take care, love, Snow.”
I entered a photo of it for the Flag Project competition by the U.N. Environment Programme and the Climate Museum, which were looking for art to be made into flags to fly around the Rockefeller Center rink during April and May. “Snow” was selected and is now a flag flying around Rockefeller Center. I am extremely proud of that but mostly because it is associated with such an important cause.
What is one artistic goal you hope to accomplish this summer or this year?
Two big projects are in the works, one is to start illustrating another book based on a painting I did years ago titled The Button Collector, and a large tryptic painting based on the situation in the world today. Both of these projects are demanding and sometimes things are put aside for the love of art. It is a great gift which I treat as a job that must be done specifically, because no one else would do it exactly the same way. One of my favorite quotes about art is from Tolstoy: “Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets, which are common to all.”
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional info?
I am very grateful to Dan’s Papers for their generosity and the opportunity to share “Bouquet of a Lifetime” and my story to so many of their readers. I will be included in two upcoming exhibits at the William Ris Gallery in Jamesport. The first exhibit, on April 30, is dedicated to Ukraine and partial proceeds from sales will go to help Ukraine. I will also be exhibiting in a three-woman artist exhibit on June 4. My website is annajurinich.net and I can be reached by email at [email protected].