Pat Fiorello - Art Elevates Life

Art & Inspiration from professional artist and instructor Pat Fiorello. Pat is known for her romantic landscape, garden and floral paintings in oil and watercolor. Her paintings often depict beautiful places like Italy and France. Pat teaches painting workshops in the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. She is passionate about inspiring others to include art in their life. Whether creating it or simply appreciating and enjoying it, there are so many ways that art elevates life!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer in New York

Summer in New York
8 x 10 oil painting
 by Pat Fiorello


Inspired by some of the beautiful roses I saw during a visit to the New York Botanical Garden last summer. They have an absolutely exquisite collection of roses in all colors, shapes and sizes. A feast for the eyes.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Everything's Coming Up Roses!

Everything's Coming Up Roses!
12 x 12 Oil Painting

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" is one of my recent bridal bouquet paintings. I've painted dozens of bouquets, often as gifts from parents of the bride or groom or a husband to his wife as a special wedding or anniversary gift.

 Each bouquet is so different. Some are bold, some are soft and romantic, some are delicate blush tones or even all white.  You can see a variety of bouquets at

This one was a very classic bouquet of exclusively red roses. 
The photo I worked from is below.


The best part is seeing the joy on people's faces when they get a surprise gift that is a meaningful keepsake of one of the most special days of their life.
Here's the happy couple who received their painting commissioned by mom and dad for a first anniversary gift.

If you know of someone who might be interested in giving a special gift, please share this with them.  More at:.

Thanks so much for helping me with my mission of using my artwork to spread love!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wherefore Art Thou?

Wherefore Art Thou?
16 x 20 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello

The other day I shared a painting called "Modern Romance".  It was a painting of this bouquet of  David Austin Juliet roses but with a simplified background. 

The background I set up included a tapestry I bought in Italy. I was a bit intimidated and not sure how to  approach painting it but I decided to  face my fears and give it a try with this 2nd version of the same scene.

 I simplified the tapestry design, but tried to keep the feeling of the scene on the tapestry which had mountains, a lake and columns with flowers. Had to minimize details and keep edges soft so that the tapestry would stay behind the  flowers which were the main event. Eventually I eliminated one of the columns in the background as it started getting too busy. The flowers are a little pinker than the real flowers were which were more peachy, but I liked the pink with the greenish tapestry. So decided to leave them as is for this painting.

Below is a photo of the still life set up and steps along the way in completing "Wherefore Art Thou". 

It's amazing the difference the background made in the feel. With basically the same exact flowers, "Modern Romance" feels a lot more contemporary while "Wherefore Art Thou" Feels more romantic and old world.

Work in Progress

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Modern Romance

Modern Romance
 16 x 6 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello


Recently set up some beautiful Juliet roses for a still life painting.  The flowers are pretty complex so I decided to simplify the background at first and just focus on the flowers for this painting.  I did a second version afterwards where I included a suggestion of the background tapestry. I will share that one in an upcoming blog post.

Below are some steps along the way in creation of this painting which I call "Modern Romance".

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Desdemona ... and shifting from literal thinking to artistic thinking when painting

8 x 10 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello


This spring I ordered a new type of rose from the David Austin catalog, called Desdemona. It arrived in March and my husband planted it. It's doing well here in the Atlanta weather, but I was surprised when the flowers came out that they were so tiny. See photo below with my thumbnail for scale.

I was envisioning some big, beautiful cup/bowl-like flowers so was a little disappointed at the actual size. I wanted to paint them, so figured I could just make them look the size I had imagined in the painting.

When starting something that seems so complex, you really need to simplify to the major shapes and values. Don't get to the details/small shapes too fast. As one of my favorite artists and teachers, Robert Johnson often says ,"You have to earn your right to paint the petals". Meaning you have to get the structure of the whole painting and the flower first. The petals come later.

Or even better, forget about the idea of painting "petals" altogether.  A painting never succeeds because of the tiny details, but because of the big overall shapes and composition. You need to attend to that first. Just like if you're building a house.  You need to pour the foundation  and put up the walls before you start buying curtains and assembling doorknobs.

A student recently was struggling painting a rose. She was judging herself            (incorrectly concluding " I'm not good at painting flowers")  and getting very discouraged.  My advice to her was focus on the shapes of color/value you see and paint those shapes. Try to turn off your left brain that recognizes and labels everything as a petal, a leaf,  a stem, a rose and look for shapes. If you can paint those abstract shapes and put them in the right relationship to one another, you'll paint something that looks familiar to the viewer, the pattern of light and dark shapes we associate with a rose.  And they will interpret the spots of color you have put down on the canvas as a rose. You can never paint a real 3 dimensional rose, you can only paint the illusion of how we see a rose on your 2 dimensional canvas or paper.

As probably most artists have to, I had to go through this stage of moving from literal, left -brained thinking ( painting a rose) to artistic thinking ( painting the shapes of color that I see) myself.   Many students struggle with this leap and change in thinking, so I cover it in my classes where appropriate. Below is a copy of the material I often share with students to help them transition from a literal reproduction of things to a more painterly creation of a painting with "shapes of color". Hope it is useful for you.

   Shifting from literal thinking to artistic thinking                       
     (left brained/analytical/intellectual to right brained/visual/spatial)

   Which is more interesting, to read a love letter or an itemized bill? 
          – Sergei Bongart         
     Art should be a love letter!

Literal thinking
Artistic Thinking
Paint things
Paint Shapes
Describe details
Suggest details
Put it in if its there
 Select which shapes/ elements add to your painting and which can be left out
Copy as is
Create as you want it to be

Ideas for getting to more artistic thinking, more painterly paintings

--   Make sketches and work from the sketches rather than the photo’s
--  Turn photo’s upside down to focus on shapes and paint upside down
--   Put photos away altogether
--  Work from b & w photo or value sketch or Notan
--  Look for silhouettes of shapes, and make them more interesting
--  Give yourself permission to move things around, add or delete what’s needed for a better composition
--   Work from multiple photos’s so you’re not locked on one.
--  Be on the lookout for repetitive shapes/marks- cloning marks
--  Practice altering shapes. Modify boring shapes- -change dimensions, change angle (oblique), have it interact with space around it- interlocks/”incidents at the edge”
--   Be mindful of edges; hard, soft, lost, found; harder near focal area, less defined further away from focal area
--  Vary colors within a shape- no need to have one shape/one color
--  Use larger brush
--  Stand when painting, move from the arm, using the brush as a shape maker, not like a pencil
--  Instead of things- house, tree, think shapes of light, shapes of dark
--   Ask how the eye will move thru the painting, and if composition is static, add movement, connecting darks, path of lights, entry point, lines, pointers
--  Combine shapes of similar value into larger shapes

We are striving for an engaging painting:
-Unity with Diversity
 -Eye Movement

How the eye sees- focus in one area, blurry on the periphery

All rights reserved, Pat Fiorello 2015

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Garden Romance

Garden Romance
6 x 8 Oil Painting by Pat Fiorello

Did a small study, not based on anyplace in particular. Just wanted to get a sense of a sunlit urn filled with lush roses in a garden setting. Sometimes it's fun just to make it up rather than portray an actual scene. Just dreaming of a place I'd like to be!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Born on the 4th of July!

Born on the 4th of July
12 x 16 Oil Painting
by Pat Fiorello

Had arranged a few (sort of) red, white and blue flowers for the fourth of July. Liked the combination of roses and hydrangeas and celebratory nature of the grouping.

Decided to have some fun with interpreting it in a painting. Added some spots of color in the background to feel like the fun, festivity and fireworks associated with July 4th.

Here are some of the steps along the way showing how this painting unfolded.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Something Blue...

Something Blue...
12 x12 Oil Painting
Here's "Something Blue...", my most recent bridal bouquet painting. It was recently commissioned as a 5 year wedding anniversary gift from parents to their son and daughter- in- law. A photo of the original bouquet is posted below.

My mission is to use my art to spread love and there's no greater joy for me as an artist than to create something beautiful, lasting and personally meaningful that is given from a family member to someone they love dearly.

Here's what my client shared,
"We have given the painting to our son & his wife. They were surprised & impressed with the painting & the gesture. I was so pleased to give them such a personal gift & I know they will enjoy it over the years. Their wedding was simple but very very warm & delightful. It really reflected their personalities, and all of us in the family remember & speak about it often. We all will enjoy remembering it again each time we see the painting." 
Thanks again Pat, 
A. N. California

If I can help you celebrate a special occasion with love, please contact me about commissioning a work of art. The process is fun and easy. Learn more here.

I often create bridal bouquet paintings, but also create other floral and landscape paintings to preserve memories of a special place or favorite flowers. I'd be happy to discuss any ideas you may have to see what can be uniquely created for your loved one.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mad About Daisies!

Mad About Daisies
9 x 12 Oil Painting

Been working and concentrating on several detailed bouquet commissions lately. Took a day off to do something lighthearted, fun and simple for a friend who loves daisies.  Done with opaque paint over a transparent underpainting.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Passion for Roses

Passion for Roses
8 x 8 Oil Painting
by Pat Fiorello
Did a little experimenting here. Lightly sanded down an old oil painting then repainted it to get a sense of how it would look if done with a palette knife. I do like the energy, irregularity and the texture the knife adds, particularly on the leaves. But for me at least, I think there is a tradeoff on the softness of the flowers themselves that is more effectively communicated with a soft brush. Still experimenting though, so will give it some further tries.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Birthday Love

Birthday Love
9 x 12 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello
This painting was a commission for a special birthday gift from one of my students to her adult daughter who lives on the west coast.  All she told me was that her daughter's favorite flowers were white roses and blue hydrangeas   (happen to be my favorites too!) She wanted them in the garden, not in a vase, but other than that gave me free reign. There is no one place that this actually was inspired by- I  totally made it up, but I surrounded myself with photo's of those types of flowers to keep me in touch with my feeling for those flowers and their essence.

Creating the painting felt really good- it was fun and freeing and I am really pleased with how it turned out. Might be one of my favorites ever.

My favorite thing is to create art that is going to be given as a gift to a loved one. For me, that feels like the true mission for my art. To help people celebrate love!

I lost my own mother last July and spent her last (87th) birthday with her on July 2nd while she was in hospice in a nursing home in NJ.  That was the last day I spent with her before coming back home. She passed away the following week. This painting commissioned by a lovely student who I am very fond of, to her daughter whose birthday is July 3, really had me in touch with the love between mothers and daughters.

 I always appreciate feedback and was especially happy to get this message back from my client:

"Thank you so much for spreading love through your paintings!"

What better purpose is there for art than spreading love?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Patience -2

Patience - 2
12 x 16 Oil Painting
by Pat Fiorello
Did a second version of the flowers shared in the last post. This time arranged different lighting and went with a lighter background.

Do you have a favorite- Patience 1 or 2? I can't decide.

Patience 1

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Patience- 1

Patience -1
16 x 20 Oil Painting
by Pat Fiorello
Ordered some David Austin "Patience" roses from the local wholesaler, "Cut Flowers" last week.  I figured "Patience" was fitting since that's what I've needed a lot of while I'm recovering form the accident. Now at week 10 of 12 that I need to be totally non-weight bearing on my left leg, then moving on to several months of physical therapy.    

I have to say this was one of the more challenging subjects I've painted.  The flowers are complex and I include the whole dozen. Probably a study of one or 2 might have been a good idea first, but when you have fresh flowers, the clock is ticking before they are gone, so I just jumped right in.

Below are the set up I arranged and a photo's of a few steps in the process.
I did a second version with a lighter background and will share that soon, but for this one I used overhead lighting and more of a mid-tone background for contrast.

If you love flowers, you may want to come join me on my upcoming workshop in June 2018 to "Paint the English Gardens " in Cornwall, England- Click link for details.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fearless Painting- Suncatchers revisited

Suncatchers -revisited
12 x 16 oil painting
I've had a pile of paintings in my studio that were complete but I thought I might be able to improve on them. That pile has been sitting there for at least a year and I've never touched it . I resisted it because I'm usually much more excited to start something brand new rather than finishing something already in progress.

But this month, since I've been recovering from my accident (for those just tuning in I was hit by an SUV while crossing the street in April),  I've started reaching into that pile of "fixer-uppers" with the intention of using them for experiments.  These small learning opportunities aren't be too time consuming since there is already an existing idea, composition there, and I'm just exploring possibilities to enhance what was already there.

Today I took out "Suncatchers" which I painted a couple of years ago inspired by a springtime photo I took at the NY Botanical Garden. The original version of Suncatchers is  pictured below. At the time I painted it, I liked it and I still do, but I was wiling to risk it to possibly learn something. My thought was that I could add more variety.  My intentions for this lesson were (1) push the color temperature variation a la Joaquin Sorolla who used really warm yellows in the sunlit areas and cools in the shadows. He is one of the masters of depicting a sensation of sunshine. (2) Experiment with the palette knife to get more mystery, texture and rich thick paint  and (3) Push a little further towards impressionism/looseness vs realism.

I intentionally did not look at any reference photos- just responded to the painting as an abstract design and where I wanted to have light, darks, hard edges, soft edges etc.. ( Before starting I did sand down any existing texture and then oiled out the canvas).

Original Suncatchers

Below is a close up of a little corner of the painting now which shows some of the thick paint and broken/soft edges.

Close-up of some texture in new version

In the end it was a fun afternoon, playing with paint, without any attachment. If I took a poll,  I'm sure some people would prefer the original and some would  prefer the new version, but for me the value was in the lesson and getting experience with handling the paint in some different ways.

Are you willing to risk good to potentially discover what might lead to great?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunflowers- experimenting with the palette knife

Sunburst- Revisited
6 x 12 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello
Doing some more experimentation with the palette knife. Took a painting I'd completed a couple of years back and sanded it down and decided to rebuild it using the palette knife mostly and a little bit of brushwork at the end.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dreamy -White Roses- experimenting with the palette knife

 8x8 oil painting
by Pat Fiorello
Was doing a little study of 3 roses from a photo. Did a little experimentation with a palette knife at the end to destroy some of what had been created.  Adds a little mystery, texture, edge variation.  Think I will continue to experiment with this. What do you think?