The Magic of ‘Layering Light’

Bette Ridgeway creates magic. She pours her heart and soul into the artwork that she creates. When the American abstract artist felt the rush of loneliness during the COVID-19 lockdown in her Santa Fe, New Mexico home, she turned that feeling into a work of art. With tones of grey, blue-grey, and white, Ridgeway let the paint (and gravity) speak for itself. She stepped back and knew that the name of the painting was Loneliness.

Ridgeway doesn’t use any paint brushes. Her canvases don’t sit atop an easel. Instead, she uses acrylic paint, a canvas, stools and plastic cups. The rest, she leaves to gravity. 

 

“I call the technique ‘pouring’ and use the phrase, which I copyrighted, ‘layering light,’” Ridgeway explains.

 

 

Bette Ridgeway

Lonliness

The artist accomplishes the “layering light” look by mixing her paints in her nine-inch plastic cups, where she then pours the colorful mixture on her canvas. Ridgeway explains that she manipulates the canvas by stretching it over stools and ladders, allowing the paint to create her signature style. “If you look at the work, you’ll see there’s motion in it and that’s achieved by the speed of the pour, the angle of the pour and that’s what makes it unique, no brush work,” says Ridgeway.

Fandango — Inspired by New Mexican flamenco dancer María Benítez. The twists and turns of the orange and red reminded Ridgeway of the dancer flowing and dancing the flamenco.

With over 30 years of experience as a commercial painter under her belt, Ridgeway has an endless portfolio of paintings, each with its own look. “Every single one of them is so different,” she explains. “Some are really bold and strong. Some are lighter and more transparent. Transparency is what makes the work different because when you pour a watered-down color over another watered-down color, you get a third color. You compose as you go.”

 As an abstract artist, Ridgeway says, she pulls inspiration for her pieces from a memory, a feeling, or simply a color combination she envisioned or saw. “I don’t set out to paint something,” she says about when she approaches her canvas to paint. “I don’t set out to paint happiness or joy, or anything like that.”

Instead, Ridgeway takes what’s inside of her at the time and lets the colors and the pour shape the painting. This is one of the things that led Ridgeway to transition from figurative painting (painting an object or subject that is real) to abstract painting. “Abstract work is harder because it comes from inside you, you’re not looking at anything. You’re painting a thought, a feeling,” she says. “You’re painting a certain thing that’s come outside of you.” 

Harvest Time — “When I started out, I wanted to use earth tones — amber and gold and a little bit of gray — more earthy than primary colors.” Ridgeway explains that when she threw the deep raspberry color and the white on the canvas, it reminded her of the rainforest. She squirted water in the center of the painting and let it drip. “A lot of people don’t know rainforests, but it’s like a soft, misty rain the whole time, so moist,” Ridgeway says. “Fruit everywhere, flowers everywhere, so you get that feeling of Mother Earth, just so abundant and rich and lifegiving.”

When a dear friend of Ridgeway’s passed away in 1999, the feeling that came out of her was sadness. To cope, she took this feeling and created a masterpiece. “I did this gigantic piece with only red and black, on a white canvas and I named it, Mi Corazón Roto, which means ‘my broken heart.’ And it looked like that, to me — an abstract broken heart.” It hung in her studio for a long time, until a best friend and collector of hers lost her husband. Ridgeway gifted the painting to her “and she hung it in her living room and it was like her broken heart,” she says. Ridgeway got the painting back after her friend passed away, saving it from being sold in a consignment shop. “So each piece kind of has a life of its own,” she says, going on to share that the piece recently found a new wall to call home.

 

 

Mi Corazón Roto

One of the best parts of what Ridgeway does is when people get to see her paintings. “The viewer is actually the one that completes [the painting] because they see what they see and it might not have anything to do with what I did,” she says. “It’s so much fun to hear what people see. It’s never what I see.”

A Day in the Surf — “You know, with this COVID, we’re not able to travel, at least I’m not, and so I’m missing going to a beach this summer, I’m missing the water,” Ridgeway explains about this piece. Inspired by the water, Ridgeway created this piece that is reminiscent of the beautiful ebb and flow of the waves on a beach.

In a way, Ridgeway has come full circle in her career. In the mid 1970s, the artist visited a big gallery in New York to see the work of abstract artist Paul Jenkins, who used the same method of pouring in his work. “The paintings were enormous and they were in primary colors — red, blue, green, orange, yellow, a lot of black — and it just brought me to my knees,” Ridgeway says. “I had never seen anything like it and it was so powerful, and this entire gallery, with huge walls, was filled with this magnificent work, that I just stood there and cried. It was so beautiful.”

It is Jenkins, according to Ridgeway, that led her down the path to finding her creative voice. “I owe so much to my friend Paul who became a mentor over the years,” she says. “He passed away in 2012 and was a master, his work is in all the major museums in the world.”

Although Ridgeway has accomplished so much during her career and continues to show in galleries and paint commissions, she acknowledges she still has room for growth, “I’m learning every day. I don’t have all the answers,” she says. “And that’s the beauty of this work, it’s so different and every single day I learn something new. And that’s what’s exciting…. I’m just having the time of my life.” 

For more information on Bette Ridgeway, upcoming showings, and paintings, go to RidgewayStudio.com or BetteRidgeway.com

Photos of artwork and Bette Ridgeway courtesy of Bette Ridgeway. 

Over the past few years, stained glass has gone from a dusty antique item in an old home to modern works of art. With the industry making a comeback into the luxury scene, interior designers are challenging themselves to design a space around the ornate glass. Here are a few different ideas:

Photo courtesy of Bespoke Glass

Photo courtesy of Florence Broadhurst Fabrics

Stained glass can add a pop of color and make your space feel both cozy and modern. The green colors on this partition add a bright finish to the room, making it the centerpiece for all the other furniture to gather around it. While still looking modern, it brings back an old-school style to provide a sense of comfort as well. Nowadays, adding a piece of stained glass to a home brings a unique style unlike any other — one that brings you back in time, while also staying ahead of the times, too.

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, the Blake Hotel adds a unique style to the space by featuring the work of Bespoke Glass, a studio-based business in Brooklyn, New York. The different shades of blue colors and the glimmer of the glass adding a retro look that transports you to a different time in the past, while also staying current and on-trend. The placement of the blue pieces adds an edgy and one-of-a-kind appearance. Not only is it a partition, but it’s a work of art in its own right.

Photo courtesy of Reed McKendree

Photo courtesy of Bespoke Glass

By changing the designs stained glass was normally confined to in the past, studios and interior designers around the globe are beginning to take out the dusty antiques from their storage bins and create works of art instead. With so many different styles and colors, the possibilities are endless.

Artist and inventor Bandana Jain works with recycled and eco-friendly materials to create one-of-a-kind artwork for the home.

Sharing a deep concern for the environment, the contemporary artist has been creating artwork using corrugated cardboard for the last seven years. She crafts unique furniture for clients — from couches and desks to tables and lamps.

She is also the founder of Sylvn Studio, a business dedicated to conserving the environment. The India-based business is the country’s only design label specialized in hand-crafted décor products made of recycled corrugated cardboard.

How did you first begin your work with cardboard? Why did you choose this medium?

Initially, I worked with a few other mediums. To choose cardboard as a signature medium was a conscious decision I had taken because I wanted to offer something different. Also I wanted to educate people about adopting sustainable lifestyle.

How has your journey with this medium shifted in the last seven years?

It only grew with time. Corrugated cardboard is certainly not an easy medium to work with. I struggled a lot and over time I gathered experience and maturity to handle this medium. I must say nobody can touch me now. 

Why is it important that designers/artists use recycled and eco-friendly mediums and that homeowners choose to purchase these types of artwork?

We are all the children of the earth. The existence of our being is intrinsically connected to nature. As responsible humans, it is for us to ensure that we build a better place for ourselves and subsequent generations to come. This can happen only when we make the right choice.

Why should homeowners incorporate these pieces into their homes?

A well-designed interior accessory revs up the design quotient of your abode. And every accessory in a home is akin to an individual chapter in the overall design narrative. It defines the space and tends to be a conversation starter because of its exclusivity and aesthetics. Who doesn’t want to be talked about?

Where do you gather inspiration for your creations?

Inspiration comes to me from a myriad of spaces. As an artist, my observations and experiences guide me. My choice of medium is also a part of my experience. Once I was in Zermatt where I had the chance to explore the Eco Village; the determination of the locals to keep the town sustainable inspired me a great deal.

Photos courtesy of Bandana Jain

Serving as the go-to destination for both first-timers and experienced art collectors, Martin Lawrence Galleries feature original and unique works from masters including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Pablo Picasso.

Liudmila Kondakova’s “La Maison Rose”

The galleries began presenting the work of 20th- and 21st-century artists in 1975, and since have expanded their influence to nine locations. From New York and California to Hawaii and Louisiana, MLG have become the anchor for superior fine art throughout the United States.

 

In addition to the work of historic and iconic artists, the galleries introduce the work of modern, published artists including Vik Muniz, Liudmila Kondakova and Francois Fressinier.

 

The galleries have lent and exhibited over 200 masterworks by more than 30 different artists, however each artist displays a unique style, which can be seen through their creations.

Francois Fressinier

Speaking to the Art

 

Born in Cognac, France in 1968 to scholarly portrait photographer parents, it was fitting that François Fressinier would develop a unique, enchanting style. Early exposure to some of the world’s most historic places, such as France’s Gallo-Roman ruins and Gothic churches, inclined Fressinier to explore and create figurative, symbolic artwork. While the modern figurative artist does a little sketching, he often lets his paintings speak to him.  Alone in his studio, Fressinier often watches as his artwork appears progressively and without force.

François Fressinier’s “Over The Surface”

Liudmila Kondakova’s “Red Umbrella”

Liudmila Kondakova

Drawing Inspiration from the Past

 

Rich with clarity and light,  Liudmila Kondakova displays an individual sense of artistic and spiritual well-being in her masterpieces. Her meticulous attention to detail allows viewers to become intimately involved in the life of her paintings. Since her childhood in Russia, Kondakova has been fascinated by traditional art, by a sense of spirituality that transcends common existence. Her painting technique is that employed by medieval egg-tempera painters. Her palette — influenced by the icon painters of Byzantium and Russia — is both vibrant and beautiful, with colors that blend in a subtle, poetic balance. Original paintings and limited edition prints by Kondakova have an honored place in private collections around the world.

Vik Muniz

Recreating Well-Known Masterpieces

 

Creator and innovator Vik Muniz is a multi-talented artist who is best known for recreating well-known masterpieces using 3-D materials. Inspired by famous imagery from art history and pop culture, Muniz uses unexpected, everyday objects to create his compositions. He then photographs his work to preserve an exact look. Centering on visual literacy and the nature of visual cognition, the Brazilian artist and photographer often creates bold, ironic and deceiving images. Works sold at the Martin Lawrence Galleries include limited edition photographs of Muniz’s projects.

Vik Muniz’s “Grey Marilyn (Pictures of Diamond Dust)”

 All artwork is available through Martin Lawrence Galleries.

Residential developments are increasingly incorporating oversized art, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
These powerful and room-defining pieces each have a huge impact on the spaces they inhabit, drawing the eye in new directions. Here are four examples of NYC luxury developments spearheading this trend in a major way, commissioning local artists to create unique, oversized artwork.

525 West 52nd Street
Upon walking through the grand, double-height entrance, residents pass under Rachel Mica Weiss’ “Inverted Arches.” Commissioned by Art Assets, the 20-foot entrance piece made of nylon rope creates striking silhouettes and intricate, dramatic shadows that change throughout the day. Rachel’s use of industrial materials and hand-crafted techniques seamlessly integrate art and architecture, while simultaneously highlighting the history of the industrial neighborhood and reflecting the daily lives of residents.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Gottesman

The Jackson
This lobby was designed with a stunning double-height, floor-to-ceiling glass art installation that was inspired by the building’s neighbor, MoMa PS1. The Long Island City condominium’s developer commissioned artist Tom Fruin to curate a one-of-a-kind mosaic glass-art wall in the building’s entryway, giving the space a unique gallery feel.

Photo courtesy of Qualls Benson

Photo courtesy of Art Assets

90 Morton
This boutique condominium features an entire gallery exhibition of eye-level floor sculptures curated by artist Danielle Gottesman.
Gottesman was inspired by the architectural floor plans of the property, and when adding light behind these pieces, one can actually see the shadows of the floor plans.

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

50 West
A glass-walled exhibition space in the lobby of 50 West is hosting a rotating display of art. The first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock.
Alice’s work can be found in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

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