Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Art of Barbara Tyler Ahlfield

When you stare into a painting by Barbara Tyler Ahlfield, the first thing you will notice are the almost subdued colors and detailed brush strokes. The colors will remind you of classical art. Even the style of the paintings is reminiscent of the works of the great classical masters. The truth is that the style is deliberate. In her own words, Ahlfield said that she grew up in a historic district wherein she was surrounded by history, antiques, and a unique environment that echoes a more genteel era. You get a taste of what she's talking about by looking at some of her works like Orange Tabby and Vapor.

Ahlfield describes her art style as a fusion of classical techniques and modern sensibilities. She also infuses her art with shades of realism and impressionism. She prefers oil on canvas and that's understandable given the subjects that she cover in her art. She also sticks to canvasses measuring four feet by five feet. As to her process in coming up with a painting, Ahlfield says that she follows the standard procedure. That is she sketches the piece, re-sketches it on the canvas, then proceeds painting with oil. If you look at her painting titled Cotton Candy, you can almost visualize how she layered her work.

Majority of Ahlfield's painting are what she calls glamour portraits. The artist has an extensive background as a fashion illustrator. This is one of the things that set her paintings apart and give them a different and fresh look. You are looking at an oil pointing but you can also see the artist's background in fashion illustration. In most of the paintings, the models look like they are posing for a fashion shoot. Take for example her paintings Borzoi Strut and Stroll at Dusk. The subjects of the portraits have the poise of fashion models. The paintings themselves look like illustrations that you'd find in the pages of a fashion magazine.

Although her paintings are mostly classical portraiture infused with fashion illustration, Ahlfield says that she hasn't completely given up on other styles of creating art. According to her, her main goal is to give her paintings a fresh perspective that make them very collectible to art enthusiasts and collectors. And if you look at her body of work, she's close to achieving her goal. Her paintings are memorably unique, quite inspiring, and simply beautiful. She has found a way to perfectly blend classical art with modern fashion illustration.

In a nutshell, Ahlfield's paintings are a breath of fresh air in a saturated art industry. Her style sort of bridges the gap between the old styles and the new. Her paintings breed nostalgia for the past while reminding us of the immense creativity of modern styles. All you have to do is look at her painting Dreams After Dark to understand what we're talking about. Her style is also very marketable which is probably one of the reasons why she pursued it. Coming from a commercial art background, Ahlfield probably saw the potential of her unique style. And that's when she moved from fashion illustration to fine art.

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