Lines and Colors art blog

Nick Patten
Room interiors, though a relatively common subject, have never really been treated as a separate genre like still life, landscapes or even “cityscapes”.

Though they have a long history, and some wonderful painters are noted for them, such as Vermeer, De Hooch or Tarbell, room interiors seem to be most often treated as backdrops for figurative work, a way to place the figure or portrait in an environment.

Room interiors, when well done, have their own kind of magic, conveying emotion, atmosphere and a sense of place and time quite unlike landscape and still life.

Nick Patten is an artist who focuses on the emotive and suggestive qualities of room interiors, in particular utilizing the play of light and shadow, strongly geometric compositions and carefully considered color palettes to transport us into his glimpses of another, sometimes seemingly familiar place.

Room interiors without figures by their nature often convey a feeling of stillness, a quality of contemplation that, like some still life painting, invites contemplation of the work itself. I particularly like the way Patten uses soft contrasts of muted yellows and greens along with subdued reds, to give his compositions a richness of color while maintaining their essentially still quality.

In his obviously lived in rooms, furniture and other objects seem to await the arrival of the houses’ occupants, as though they might be just in the next room, or behind a half open door.

I also enjoy the way Patten plays with light sources as compositional elements, with open windows, lamps or splays of light on walls and objects acting as the players in his quiet dramas.

Unfortunately, Patten’s website is awkwardly arranged, with a pointless scrolling division that can be too easily scrolled past its content, allowing the thumbnails to disappear, and a maddening pop-up window JavaScript that resets the position of the thumbnails so that once you start scrolling, every time you view an image and close the pop-up you must scroll down and re-find your place to select the next image (see my post on How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web).

However, if you enjoy room interiors as I do, Patten’s beautifully refined and subtle work is certainly worth the effort. Note that there is an archive of sold paintings in addition to the main portfolio.

[Suggestion courtesy of Randall Imai]

[Addendum, July, 2012: I’m glad to report that Patten’s site has been redesigned; it is now much more straightforward, and easier to view his online gallery.]


6 responses to “Nick Patten”

  1. Nick’s interior paintings are truly beautiful. The colors, play of light and composition work your imagination immediately, not only almost holding your breath waiting to see who will come into the room, but also creating my own stories as to what has happened or will happen in each painting. Wonderful!

  2. Randall Imai Avatar
    Randall Imai

    I have been drawn to Patten’s paintings for many years, although I have never actually seen a real painting of his. What appeals to me about them is their meandering boundlessness, the silence of absence, the obvious quality of light (particularly on reflected surfaces), and the architectural quality of the spaces which are both ordinary and majestic.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Room interiors like these always bring out in me a deep feeling of pain and sadness. Due to political issues in the past my family had to abandon our home and we were evacuated to never to see our ‘room interiors’ again. Including all the furniture and personal belongings.
    Thanks for the memories.

  4. Nice pics. You are really talented! 😀

  5. i love these interiors…and your comments on them. they really do evoke a certain mood without any human or animal presence!!

  6. Betty Avatar

    Thank you for Nick Patten’s paintings. I did not know room interiors was a painting genre. I do love the Dutch painters (De Hooch is a favorite) but did not make that connection. I learn so much from your site. I felt like I’d been on a very satisfying home tour. His work does evoke unexpected and strong feelings. It was a joy to look and linger. Also, once read, your article on how not to display art work on the web is never forgotten. I recommended it when ever I can. Betty